Campus, News

Unsafe situation at BUMC

The crossing at Massachusetts Avenue and Albany Street on the Boston University Medical Campus has become increasingly unsafe for pedestrians as new buildings like the School of Public Health crowd the already heavily congested area, students and administrators say.

Since the SPH Center for International Health and Development moved to its new location at 801 Massachusetts Ave. a year ago, automobiles at the intersection just outside the building have hit six pedestrians, SPH Operations Manager Sarah Dwyer said.

‘There is never a time when you get a four-way stop,’ she said. ‘You push the walk button, but cars on Albany Street can still turn. Everyone I’ve talked to who got hit got hit that way. It’s just like the BU Bridge.

‘We’re so happy with our new building,’ she said. ‘It’s just getting back and forth that’s a hassle.’

Dwyer said she thinks an increase in pedestrian traffic from the newly situated SPH building added to the confusion and danger already present at the intersection, which is also surrounded by several BU Medical Campus buildings.

‘The new office building at Crosstown Center used to be an empty lot, and now there are almost 1,000 people working there,’ she said. ‘Boston Healthcare for Homeless has also added foot traffic.’

MassHighway, the state organization responsible for transportation engineering, found that the intersection is at risk for accidents even without any foot traffic, because it carries roughly 38,000 cars daily, according to the MassHighway website. It is also one block from the entrance to the Southeast Expressway, which is ranked as one of the 200 most dangerous intersections in the state.

‘We’re asking the city for more cops, more enforcement, traffic-monitoring cameras – so they can actually see the problems – and a reconfiguration of the traffic signals,’ Dwyer said.

Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences junior Amanda Frank volunteers at BMC, and said she thinks the intersection is ‘very dangerous.’

‘There’s basically no sidewalk, and cars race down there,’ she said. ‘I haven’t been hit, but I’ve definitely come close.’

Anita Raj, an associate social and behavioral sciences professor, said a car hit her on Aug. 29 when a signal gave the right of way to both right-turning vehicles and pedestrians. She said this was not a malfunction, but something the signals have always been programmed to do as far as she knows. SPH officials knew of the danger of adding more pedestrians around the

‘When the plans were being developed, there were always concerns about this,’ she said. ‘I can’t believe that there aren’t more people injured there.’

Raj said she walked to BMC after the accident, but left after having to wait too long. Though she was never diagnosed, she said she had ‘all the basic symptoms’ of whiplash.

During rush hour, the intersection is especially dangerous, and the stressful situations associated with the nearby medical center and the emergency vehicles brings just add fuel to the fire, Raj said.

‘The guy who hit me had actually just dropped off his mother, because she had a heart attack,’ she said. ‘There are lots of pedestrians and lots of drivers stressed because of the hospital or work.’

MassHighway, in conjunction with Boston, is currently working to redesign intersections around the city and renovate Massachusetts Avenue, including the intersection in question, according to its website.

Help has not come, however, because MassHighway found that forcing a four-way to stop would cause significant gridlock, Raj said.

‘For too long we’ve been complaining about this,’ Raj said. ‘Someone shouldn’t have to be hit for help to come.’

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One Comment

  1. How about building foot bridges?