Kosciuszko Circle targeted for $700k state traffic study

Notoriously difficult-to-navigate Kosciuszko Circle will undergo a traffic study as part of a state commitment to an $11 million infrastructure investment in South Boston and Dorchester.

Along with improvements to Day Boulevard and Columbia Road in South Boston, $700,000 has been earmarked for a review of the flow around Kosciuszko Circle in the Department of Transportation and MBTA’s Capital Investment Plan, according to an announcement by state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and state Rep. Nick Collins of South Boston on Tuesday.

“I am pleased the MBTA and MassDOT are committing to a review of services in South Boston,” Forry said in a statement.  “These agencies will also analyze the best ways and solutions to upgrade Day Boulevard and Kosciuszko Circle, which suffer from gridlock and are serious public safety concerns. Ensuring safe roads and reliable transportation options to our residents are critically important.”

With every initiative around Columbia Point, the community calls for incorporating Kosciuszko Circle in any planning. In previous proposals, a Department of Conservation and Recreation plan to overhaul Morrissey Boulevard reframed its scope to start just south of the circle, the long-in-place Columbia Point Master Plan does not include a state-funded solution to the rotary’s traffic conundrum, and financing issues, including a fix for the Circle, arose in discussions leading to the defunct bid for the 2024 Olympics.

While elected officials signalled support for channeling state dollars toward a Kosciuszko fix as a component of the Olympic bid, the $120-$220 million cost estimate was deemed a serious strain on an already cash-strapped state budget.

Collins, who told the Reporter in July 2015 that he hoped to see something for the rotary included in the FY 2017-2018 capital plan, said on Wednesday that operations are already at “crisis level” at some points near the circle, and rectifying that remains a priority.

The $700,000 now included in the capital plan is “a good first step” toward advancing a years-long push to address congestion in the South Boston/Dorchester corridor, Collins said. He and Dorcena Forry put in for a $25 million bond bill for the area, including A and D streets in Southie, Old Colony Road, Day Boulevard, and some areas inside the waterfront out to Kosciuszko Circle. The $11 million is the first allocation through the five-year Capital Plan.

To offset the substantial funding needs for the long-term transportation plans in South Boston and throughout the state, Collins and Forry are urging the MBTA to examine the possibility of capturing value from existing MBTA assets by leasing air rights above the Red Line layover tracks at Cabot Yard in South Boston.

They expect that any fix for Kosciuszko Circle would require a public-private partnership. Collins said one project with potential to include the rotary in its plan would be UMass Boston’s plans for the former Bayside Expo site on Columbia Point.

“I think no matter who you ask, in order for anything to happen there, you need a fix at Kosciuszko,” Collins said. “It would make it pretty miserable to try to get anything done without getting some little fix in there,” he said.