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Columbia Road

Columbia Road is a 2.4 mile stretch of road and main Boston street existing between Old Colony Avenue and Blue Hill Avenue, stretching from Roxbury into South Boston while crossing through Dorchester. Lined with apartment buildings, businesses, churches, libraries, health centers, and historic buildings, it is a busy corridor at any time of day. But when we take a closer look at the existing design of the road ⎼ more than 100-foot wide, 14-foot wide medians without any greenery, unprotected bike lanes ⎼ it becomes clear that the road may be creating more barriers than access points for people.

The City has been interested in this corridor as a priority for redevelopment since 2013, but only now is starting a community engagement process to finally make changes in the corridor. After several planning studies and community engagement efforts over the last decade, residents of Columbia Road continue to face design challenges that impact their mobility to and from the corridor. Residents continue to voice a need for an improved experience walking and cycling along the corridor to make it inviting and reflective of the rich and resilient communities that live along with it.

Black and white photo of Columbia Road, Boston, MA, in 1948.

Columbia Road looking south at Annabel Street.

Boston (Mass.). Traffic & Parking Department. 1948

Columbia Road was widened in the 1950s to host a major streetcar route before becoming the four-lane road it is today. According to the City’s Vision Zero data analysis, this street has one of the highest densities of crashes resulting in injuries.

Columbia Road is also a relevant corridor in the City of Boston. Redesigning it was designated as a Go Boston 2030 priority project in 2015, with the goal of creating a neighborhood-friendly street and green connection between two major parks. Currently, both Franklin Park and Moakley Park are undergoing visioning plans and improvements. 

Progress for Columbia Road has been fragmentary, lacking any collective vision. We have heard from some residents and small businesses as part of LivableStreets Emerald Network work. However, now we want to look at the corridor from a gendered perspective and want you to help us do it.

To get to know more about the Columbia Road Area, you can read our ACTIVATING COLUMBIA ROAD: REFRAMING A MISSING LINK report (its 5-pages summary report) or check out the narrative for the Columbia Road Gender and Mobility Initiative.

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