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Design Alternatives for Boston's North End

February 29, 2012

A team of capstone students from Civil and Environmental Engineering, under the direction of Prof. Dan Dulaski, is exploring a series of options for addressing the chronic congestion and safety concerns on Hanover Street, the main commercial and pedestrian hub of activity in Boston's historic North End. Their work was recently highlighted in the North End Regional Review.


Source: News @ Northeastern

Six North­eastern Uni­ver­sity civil engi­neering seniors say they have the answer to solving traffic prob­lems and pedes­trian con­ges­tion that plague Boston’s North End: sea­sonal, portable sidewalks.

The student-​​researchers redesigned the neighborhood’s Hanover Street as part of their “Engi­neering Essen­tials” cap­stone project. The team pre­sented the plans to the North End com­mu­nity during a public meeting on April 20.

City Coun­cilor Sal LaMat­tina, State Rep. Aaron Mich­le­witz, and Boston’s Com­mis­sioner of Trans­porta­tion Thomas Tinlin were in atten­dance and com­mended stu­dents for their work.

The plan — cre­ated by stu­dents Matt Walsh, Oliver Nowalski, Rodrigo Alonso, Matt Ford, Steve Leeber and Steve Curtin — calls for installing mod­ular units sim­ilar to those that have also been used in New York City and San Francisco.

They add seven feet of side­walk space to both sides of the street for pedes­trian and busi­ness use, allowing for a mixed use of the space, which is key for the Hanover Street area,” said Walsh, the team’s project manager.

Our project took a pedestrian-​​focused approach, adapting to sea­sonal demands that show an increase of pedes­trian traffic in the summer,” he added.

The stu­dents said the portable side­walks would improve traffic flow and increase usable space for pedes­trians and local busi­nesses. In the winter, when foot traffic decreases, the side­walks would be removed so that dri­vers could once again use the space to park.

The stu­dents’ plan, which includes re-​​allocated space that is more user friendly for all modes, could help Hanover Street become a more “com­plete street” as civil and envi­ron­mental engi­neering pro­fessor and cap­stone advisor Dan Dulaski said. Part of the capstone’s goal of a more “com­plete street” is a better bal­ance of space for the move­ment of people and goods which impacts eco­nomic devel­op­ment, and cre­ation of a place in which people want to stay.

Stu­dents also cre­ated spe­cial com­mer­cial zones to dis­courage delivery vehi­cles from double-​​parking; pro­posed more acces­sible bike racks; and sug­gested reor­ga­nizing parking spots on Com­mer­cial Street to allow for the cre­ation of more than two-​​dozen extra spots.

Last year, Dulaski’s cap­stone stu­dents tackled Broadway Street in South Boston.

The stu­dents are set up as essen­tially small con­sulting firms,” he said, adding that the cap­stone projects allow stu­dents to respond to the chal­lenges of real-​​world sit­u­a­tions and develop some of the “softer” skills of engi­neering, such as writing pro­posals, inter­acting with clients and making pre­sen­ta­tions to elected officials.