With huge towers planned on either end of Canal Street, Boston is considering making the popular street near TD Garden and North Station more pedestrian-friendly.
Among the short-term changes under consideration are encouraging more restaurants to do more outdoor seating and allow more street vendors on the sidewalks. And later, perhaps within six to 10 years, the city could extend the sidewalk, reducing space for vehicles and parking, to make the stretch even more wide open for walkers.
The goal would be to rebuild the street in such a way that would make drivers feel like “they are intruding on a pedestrian space,” according to a transportation plan for the North Station area released Wednesday. Gina Fiandaca, the city’s transportation commissioner, said the plans for the street are not final.
Restaurants along the street already attract crowds for games and shows at TD Garden. But new buildings, at the north end near the station and the south end closer to Haymarket, could add nearly 1,000 pedestrians in the morning and 2,000 in the afternoon.
The city earlier this year closed the street to vehicles for a day, duplicating an experiment on Newbury Street to make certain stretches of road pedestrian-only. The city expects another “Open Canal Street” event next spring or summer, but Fiandaca said it isn’t currently planning to outright ban vehicles from the street.
“Longer term, it would probably take some sort of shared approach, with reduced vehicular traffic,” she said. “Canal Street has generous space that would support a shared use” between pedestrians and vehicles.
The North Station transportation study also included calls for more bike lanes, improved pedestrian access around Charles Circle, and a shuttle to Logan Airport from North Station.Adam Vaccaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro.