Bad Intersections: Commonwealth Avenue @ BU Bridge

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Commonwealth Avenue at the BU Bridge

Commonwealth Avenue at the BU Bridge

Waze Screen Shot

Waze Screen Shot

This blog is not just about fun and entertainment. I’ve also been trying to do a bit of civil-servant / urban studies research in my travels. One of these tasks has been to compile lists of various road-related observations: bad intersections, bad rotaries, secret panoramas and the like. This is the stuff that Boston is famous—or infamous—for.

With this post, I introduce some bad intersections I’ve driven through. This is a subjective assessment, of course. But I write in the spirit of how the Supreme Court once defined porn—you know it when you see it.

I haven’t consulted with anyone at the MA-DOT / Department of Transportation about this, although no one needs to, really. I might do so once this blog moves along and I begin to publish more lists I’ve compiled which seem bigger than any I’ve found online.

I did a Google search for “Boston Globe list of worst intersections.” There seem to be a number of interesting results and surveys.  But, sadly, the Boston Globe articles now seem buried behind a paywall so I can’t link to them. 

I will start with what many would agree is one of the worst intersections, the point where Commonwealth Avenue meets the BU bridge, near Boston University. Also feeding into this nightmarish confluence are Carlton Street, Essex Street and Mountfort Street, leading to / from Brookline and the Back Bay..

I’m sure for tens if not hundreds of thousands of people, past and present, I don’t need to say any more. I imagine It is difficult for even the highest engineering intellectual to fathom how this intersection was created—or could be improved.  The great irony is that it lies directly above a beautiful new bridge that was constructed over 2017 and 2018.  That effort was widely publicized and is a marvel of engineering success which was completed ahead of schedule. I found these photo summaries of the project: 1 and 2

Conversely, the Commonwealth Ave. / BU Bridge intersection is a dangerous collection of roads converging awkwardly over the rebuilt bridge, crossing over the Mass Pike. Add to this cacophonous mess a zigzaggy collection of newly painted bike paths, and dense clusters of students making their way to and from classes during the school year.  It’a a perpetual accident waiting to happen for drivers, bikers and students alike.

Comments or suggestions are welcomed and encouraged on this one, a true cluster F.

And by that I don’t only mean a failing grade.