Nitsch Engineering provided transportation and traffic engineering services to the City of Boston Public Works Department for the Peabody Square Improvement Project. Located adjacent to the Ashmont MBTA Station on Dorchester Avenue, Peabody Square was a multi-legged intersection with many channelizing islands. This configuration resulted in an unfriendly and unsafe environment for pedestrians and congestion and delays for motorists. Nitsch Engineering helped make Peabody Square a safer and more inviting place in this public-private partnership between the City of Boston Public Works and Transportation Departments and the St. Mark’s Area Main Street non-profit group (who initiated the project).
Nitsch Engineering analyzed the existing conditions, including a traffic control inventory, existing pavement markings, and signing. We then worked with our sub-consultant landscape architect, Carol R. Johnson Associates, to evaluate five intersection redesign alternatives that would simplify and improve roadway layout, reduce points of conflict, create a safe environment for vehicles and pedestrians, provide for placemaking and area gateways, and revitalize the square to promote commercial and community activity. These complete street options were presented to the public during a series of three community meetings, which Nitsch Engineering ran. Through this in-depth community process, the five options were narrowed down to three options; Nitsch Engineering performed traffic analysis for each of these three options. The community and project team agreed on one design alternative that eliminated the channelizing islands, discontinued one street leg, realigned Talbot Avenue, reduced neighborhood cut-through traffic, added bicycle lanes, decreased traffic queuing (and thus reduced air pollution), provided fire station signal pre-emption, addressed parking issues, and created a socially inviting park and plaza that retain the area’s historic clock tower and horse trough while adding a variety of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and tree plantings. Nitsch Engineering designed the improvements in compliance with the standards outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
As the project entered the 75% design phase in 2007, the Department of Environmental Protection through the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) funded a grant to integrate Low Impact Development (LID) techniques into the redesign of Peabody Square as part of a Green Street Pilot Demonstration Project. The Nitsch Team worked with the CRWA to implement sustainable design techniques that would reduce stormwater runoff volume into the closed drainage system and remove pollutants. These LID techniques included bioretention basins, porous pavers/pavement, and an infiltration trench. The bioretention basins collect and treat stormwater runoff via engineered layers of mulch, soil, and plant root systems. The porous pavers/pavement provide infiltration with an overflow protection system connection to the storm drain system. The infiltration trench recharges and treats stormwater runoff from the adjacent parking lot.