Traffic and Congestion

Needham Street is often heavily congested, with vehicle speeds of 4 mph during rush hour. With 800 residential units and huge retail and commercial space, this project would worsen traffic and push it and parking into neighborhood streets.

  • The developer is offering a shuttle to the Newton Highland T stop – but that is already the most congested green line stop. And the shuttle will be in the same slow traffic as everyone else. That, plus the slow train commute, will push many people to driving or taking an Uber.
  • The developer plans to put limits on resident cars in and out of the project, but the plan neglects the biggest generators of traffic, the retail and commercial businesses that the project intends to house.
  • Northland would provide $5M for traffic mitigation, but this is part of what’s called the “infiltration” fee that the project is required to pay to the city. Mitigation money is good but it’s not the central issue. Rather than focusing on mitigation, we need a smaller project, plus a more comprehensive plan than a single shuttle bus.
  • Traffic congestion is a city-wide problem. Northland cars won’t just stay near Northland; they will affect traffic throughout the city. Similarly, every new development has a city-wide impact. Yet the city has never created a comprehensive traffic plan. To approve a huge development without such a plan doesn’t make sense.
  • In the end, the best solution to traffic problems is good public transit. New developments like Northland are supposed to be “transit-oriented,” located within easy walking distance to good transportation. But public transit in Massachusetts is in a state of ever-worsening crisis. There is no way it will be solved soon. People who live in Northland, shop there, or go to work there are going to need cars; it’s unfortunate but true.