Don't Block the Box Campaign to Curb Gridlock and Increase Safety at Boston Intersections
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For Immediate Release
August 20, 2012
Released By:
For More Information Contact:
Tracey Ganiatsos

Boston drivers will today be introduced to “Don’t Block the Box”, an education and enforcement campaign designed to curb gridlock, and increase vehicle and pedestrian safety, at busy intersections in Boston.  The campaign is the result of a collaboration between the City of Boston and MASCO, a non-profit affiliate of the hospitals, schools, research and cultural organizations located in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area (LMA.)  A total of 18 intersections have been chosen for the campaign, with 11 of the intersections located in the LMA.  The campaign is based on an existing state motor vehicle law which prohibits a driver from entering an intersection when the vehicle will not be able to pass directly through it to the other side.  The fine for failing to obey this law is $150.


Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said, “A combination of new initiatives and hard work has helped to keep our local streets from being clogged with bumper to bumper traffic every day of the week.  A variety of programs have been implemented to help people to more easily get out of their cars and walk, bike and even ride scooters around Boston, and this has helped a great deal to keep traffic congestion at bay.”


He continued, “Don’t Block the Box’ is yet another component to ensure safety and accessibility on Boston’s streets.  Drivers who venture into an intersection when it is impossible to drive through it cause traffic gridlock and pose a threat to pedestrians and people in wheelchairs by blocking crosswalks and interrupting the “walk” cycles at traffic signals.  This is in violation of existing state law and, in a busy city like Boston, it is imperative that this rule of the road is followed.”


Tom Yardley, MASCO Senior Transportation Planner, commented that it is important for drivers to realize the public safety implications associated with breaking this motor vehicle law.  He said, “Vehicles that enter intersections when it may not be possible to cross before the light changes create both traffic bottlenecks and hazardous situations for ambulances and pedestrians alike.  In speaking with our members and public officials, all agreed that more awareness and reinforcement of better behavior on this issue would improve the quality of life in the Longwood Medical Area.”


“Don’t Block the Box” is mandated by Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 89, Section 9, Designation of highways as through ways; traffic control signs and devices.  It reads, in part, “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not cross or enter an intersection, which it is unable to proceed through, without stopping and thereby blocking vehicles from travelling in a free direction.  A green light is no defense to blocking the intersection.  The driver must wait another cycle of the signal light, if necessary.”


Signs reading “Do Not Block Intersection, State Law $150 Fine” have been posted at the locations included in the campaign to remind drivers of the law.  Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said, “We are giving the public fair warning, Police Officers will distribute informational literature about the campaign on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Enforcement action will begin on Thursday, August 23, 2012, with the issuance of motor vehicle citations.”


The intersections are as follows.

1)      Brookline Avenue and Francis Street

2)      Brookline Avenue and Deaconess Road/Jimmy Fund Way

3)      Brookline Avenue and Longwood Avenue

4)      Longwood Avenue and Binney Street

5)      Longwood Avenue and Blackfan Street

6)      Evans Way and Fenway/Louis Prang Street

7)      Huntington Avenue and Longwood Avenue

8)      Huntington Avenue and St. Albans Road/Mission Street

9)      Huntington Avenue and Fenwood Road

10)  Brigham Circle

11)  Huntington Avenue and Ruggles Street/Louis Prang Street

12)  Atlantic Avenue and Congress Street

13)  Atlantic Avenue and Seaport Boulevard

14)  Congress Street and Purchase Street

15)  Massachusetts Avenue and Albany Street

16)  Massachusetts Avenue and St. Botolph Street

17)  Boardman Street and Leydon Street

18)  Meridian Street and Monmouth Street


In cooperation with the City, MASCO chose intersections on City of Boston roadways in the LMA that the group considered being most in need of additional oversight.  The remaining locations were selected jointly by the Boston Police Department and the Boston Transportation Department based on both traffic and pedestrian concerns.  The Downtown locations are challenging intersections, particularly during the mid-week rush hours.  The intersections of Meridian Street and Monmouth Street, and Boardman Street and Leydon Street, are both in East Boston.  They were chosen after local residents approached the District Police Captain to ask for relief from traffic delays related to the Meridian Street Bridge and Route 1A.  Additional locations will be added to the program as necessary.


“BTD is happy to be working side by side with MASCO and the Boston Police Department on this important project,” said BTD Commissioner Thomas J. Tinlin.  “The thought of an ambulance being delayed in the medical area due to gridlock is appalling.  We are optimistic that the campaign will change driver behavior and result in safer and more efficient local streets for all of us.”



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