The ‘wow’ factor has barely set in at the Encore Boston Harbor resort for Mayor Carlo DeMaria, and already he is shifting his focus to yet another risky dream – a major shift in transportation thinking.
“My focus now is entirely on transportation planning, figuring out how I’m going to move people from Everett to Boston,” he said.
This week, DeMaria said with the opening of Encore he has started to shift his thinking towards revolutionizing transportation in Everett – and those early plans include a massive Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) investment and, potentially, closing off Broadway to personal vehicles.
“I want to get that BRT here,” he said. “I want to see it going from Glendale Square to Rutherford Avenue and connecting with North Station. I’m going to shut down traffic on Broadway and create walkable neighborhoods and people cutting through from Rt. 1 will have to go elsewhere…People will think I’m nuts and crazy, but it will take some time to work it out. However, if you put a reliable, frequent BRT system in, it’s like a train running down Broadway. It’s a plan. I’m not building a city for outsiders, but for residents. Having a frequent and reliable BRT in the heart of our city allows developers to have more flexibility to build denser and create more affordable housing.
“I want to bring back the days when you walked to the small flower shops, the cheese shop, the butcher and the wine shop,” he continued. “I want the small farm stands back in the downtown. You don’t need a car to drive to the supermarket. That’s the vision I have and I’m going to get it done. If people sit down with me and I can explain the vision to them, I think they’ll like what I want to do here.”
The BRT system DeMaria is talking up comes from a study put out by ITDP and the Barr Foundation. That plan has already seriously contemplated a center lane BRT service on Lower Broadway where the new median now exists.
He hopes that Boston Mayor Martin Walsh will also consider implementing that same plan on Rutherford Avenue in Charlestown so that there is an uninterrupted connection to North Station.
“The design on that will be complete in a year or so and go into construction in 2022,” he said.
He said his vision includes bringing that service all the way up Broadway and to Glendale Square – with the idea of closing off Broadway to personal vehicles figuring in with that.
That is all part of an overall plan, he said, to help Everett residents get to Boston and Encore without having to use a car. Whether it’s a bicycle, by foot or on a BRT, he said his goal now is to revolutionize how Everettites get around.
If the people agree with his vision, he said he believes Everett could be a nationwide model for how a modern city can move people without the ills of traffic and transportation slowing things down.
Encore to present plans for second development on Lower Broadway soon
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said this week that he expects Encore Boston Harbor to present plans for a second development on the interim parking lot at Lower Broadway very soon.
“Rumor has it that they’ll be coming to me with some new, conceptual plans for the continued development of Lower Broadway,” he said. “The more they do there, the more the create a district. The Seaport in Boston started with one building and spread out. If you look at the Boston Market Terminal and Island End, take 10 to 20 to 30 years that whole Rt. 16/Rt. 99 and Island End areas will be fully changed.”
Encore has made it no secret that they plan to develop a large hotel and entertainment venue on what is now a temporary parking lot operated by the City. That lot is only allowed for three years, and time is now of the essence, said the mayor.
“They have a tight timeline and a three-year window on that lot on Lower Broadway,” he said. “They’re not going to leave it as a parking lot.”