It’s hard to imagine traffic between Fenway Park and Longwood Medical Area getting much more fraught with traffic snarls: With Red Sox games, hospital vehicles, and joggers dashing across the intersections that cut through the Emerald Necklace, a drive through the area can get pretty confusing.
And it just got more so.
Starting this weekend, a new traffic configuration is in place at the intersection of Boylston Street and Brookline Avenue as it converges onto the Riverway. The block of Brookline Avenue that straddles the Riverway, previously a two-way street, has been shut down to one way.
Only traffic running northeast from the Longwood Medical Area into the Fenway can drive straight through on Brookline Avenue; traffic flowing in the reverse direction must take a detour around the roundabout, first turning right onto Park Drive, and making the wide U-turn to get onto Riverway, where motorists are then able to turn right onto Brookline Avenue.
(If that sounds confusing, check out the video posted to boston.com/starts.)
The detour will be in place for one year, said Mike Keegan of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for the construction work plaguing the intersection. The purpose of the construction project is to alleviate flooding from the Muddy River into the Fenway, a problem that has come up again and again in recent years.
The diversion of Brookline Avenue will allow construction staff to install a culvert underneath the road.
Breakdown lane texting banned
If you read Friday’s Globe, you may have seen our story on a State Police crackdown on texting while driving. The aggressive enforcement efforts, funded by a $275,000 federal grant, enabled police to catch more than 400 people typing on their phones from behind the wheel in one three-week period in June. Police are currently in a second wave of the effort that will last through mid-October.
But when I spoke to Lieutenant Stephen J. Walsh about the crackdown, he mentioned that police weren’t just enforcing the texting ban; they were also nabbing motorists for other distracted driving offenses, such as wearing two earbuds in their ears (you’re only allowed one), as well as pulling over in the breakdown lane to send a text message or conduct a phone call.
To which my response was: Wait, what?!?!
Apparently, it is illegal to leave the travel lane on the highway and pull over into the breakdown lane unless your car has broken down, or if you’re having a personal emergency.
What you’re supposed to do: Get off at an exit and find a parking lot to draft messages, or wait for the next highway plaza. (That may be why this week, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the establishment of “designated texting zones” along the state’s highways.)
And yet, Walsh said, it’s becoming increasingly common to see people tap-tap-tapping on the side of the road as cars whiz by at 65 miles per hour. The danger, he says, is that accelerating or decelerating out of or into a breakdown lane is difficult, and it’s been known to cause accidents.
Additionally, state troopers are trained to spot people stranded on the side of the road and pull up behind them to determine if they need help; even though they may be waved away by a chatting driver, it’s still a waste of troopers’ time — and its a big risk, when it’s not uncommon for police cruisers to be struck from behind on the side of the highway.
It’s frustrating, Walsh said, because drivers believe idling on the shoulder of the road is the safest way to text.
“They think they’re doing the right thing,” Walsh said.
Hubway rolls out more stations
This week, Hubway continued on its path to citywide domination: The bike-share program debuted a slew of additional stations this week, several of which make first forays into neighborhoods previously untouched by the gleaming silver bicycles.
In South Boston, there’s one each on East and West Broadway.
Edward Everett Square in Dorchester has one at the intersection of Columbia Road and East Cottage Street.
Roxbury has a new station in Egleston Square, and Jamaica Plain’s got three new stations, which run along the length of Centre Street.
An expression of gratitude
A couple weeks ago, I shared with you a story about Tony Stoddard, a New Hampshire man whose son, Cole, died of a rare form of cancer last year at the age of 5. He rallied the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to illuminate the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge gold for a week, to bring awareness for childhood cancer — and to help alleviate the devastating memories he had of crossing the bridge while taking his child to the hospital.
After the column, Stoddard, his wife, and their two surviving children were invited to a Red Sox game by pitcher Jon Lester, himself a lymphoma survivor.
Stoddard and his family sat four rows behind home plate.
“It was an incredible day,” Stoddard wrote in an e-mail. “Since my son Cole passed away . . . I look at the world differently. My priorities and values have changed. . . . I still love watching the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics but now whether they win or lose isn’t as important to me . . . . What matters more to me is what the athletes do off the field when the games are over. . . . Jon Lester is one of those champions, and I will always be grateful for the kindness and generosity he displayed to my family.”