Lynn looks for way to water


February 27, 2015
By Cyrus Moulton/The Daily Item

A regional planning organization will conduct a study on how to improve pedestrian safety and create more efficient traffic patterns on the Lynnway, a long goal of the city in helping bring pedestrians and development to the waterfront.

“I’ve always equated it to Storrow Drive and the Charles River,” said Lynn Community Development Director James Marsh Wednesday. “(It) is perhaps one of the most utilized waterfronts in New England, but would be nothing without the pedestrian access.

“I think there are at least 10 pedestrian overpasses from the Museum of Science to Boston University.”

Marsh noted that Lynn has one pedestrian overpass at North Shore Community College.

Neither the study nor the goal to increase pedestrian access to the waterfront is a new idea. The study was first proposed in the 2012 Waterfront Master Plan, which referred to the area of the Lynnway at the Market and Broad streets intersection as a “formidable barrier” to connecting downtown and the waterfront, and “a no-man’s land that makes the waterfront practically inaccessible.”

Marsh noted that Carroll Parkway — the portion of 1A between the Nahant Rotary and the Lynnway and Market and Broad streets intersection — is a six-lane highway with a median strip that is also the size of a single lane.

“That’s bigger than (Route) 128,” Marsh said.

view of traffic on Lynnway

Owen O'Rourke/Item Photo


A regional planning organization will study how to improve pedestrian safety and create more efficient traffic patterns on the Lynnway.

But even now, while the waterfront is quiet, the Lynnway presents a hazard to pedestrians.

“The Walmart and the McDonald’s, in that area, there are a lot of pedestrians trying to cross the street, and there are no pedestrian crosslights,” Lynn Police Lt. Rick Donnelly said.

But the planning organization had not agreed to do the studies necessary to make any significant changes to the roadway or the traffic patterns until now.

The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization selected the project, identifying Route 1A in Lynn as “in need of safety improvements, modernization to serve pedestrian and bicyclists and promote healthy transportation, better access management, and efficient traffic operations,” according to a letter to the city from the planning organization.

Marsh said that the scope of the study is yet to be determined, and the planning organization and city have not yet met. (He also said the planning organization would pay for the study.)

But the letter to the city identifies an expected study area including Route 1A / Lynnway from the Nahant Rotary to the General Edwards Bridge and including Broad Street between Route 1A and Exchange Street and Washington Street.

Representatives from the city, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and other stakeholders will also participate in the study, according to the letter.

Topics to be examined are expected to include traffic volumes, crash and speed data, land use and traffic signals, and future traffic expectations.

“We’re in the preliminary stages right now about how it’s all going to shape up,” Marsh said. “But the good news is they called and doing it.”

Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano said that he hoped the study would investigate pedestrian overpasses connecting West Lynn and the waterfront.

“The Lynnway is a good transportation route if you’re going to work in Boston and if you’re going to Boston, but it also divides the waterfront from rest of the city,” Capano said. “The idea is to open up the city ... and this would be good.”

City Council President Dan Cahill said promoting pedestrian access to the waterfront will help that area grow and help the city as a whole.

“Connecting pedestrians to our waterfront and future waterfront residents to our downtown and neighborhoods is precisely the sort of smart development that will improve the entire city,” Cahill said.

Cyrus Moulton can be reached at


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