Assuming a width of 57ft (19m) [check this also] that results in travel lanes of about 14 feet with parking, over 20 feet where parking is not used! The target for travel lanes in the city is 11 feet. Wider travel lanes result in ambiguous travel patterns and greater speed [citation?] and the sudden and widening of Centre for this short distance is inconsistent with the needs of its users. Pedestrians have an unnecessarily large section of pavement to cross and are placed far from the driver's central vision. For those few blocks, motorists have less reason to slow down, only to encounter a roadway which is more narrow and congested a few blocks later. Cyclists have no special accommodations and have to deal with uneven pavement and concrete pads.
A reduction in pavement could improve the safety all users, while providing more permeable space and better aesthetics for the neighborhood. By narrowing the roadway, Centre Street can have a more consistent appearance to motorists, traffic can operate at the desired speeds with a calming effect. The shorter crossing would bring pedestrians closer to the traffic lanes, increasing visibility and exposing them to traffic for a shorter period of time making for a safer crossing. A shorter crossing would particularly benefit slower moving pedestrians, such as the elderly or disabled. By placing the new green space in the middle of the road to form a median strip for as much as a few hundred feet, a pedestrian refuge could be created with the opportunity to plant trees and create more visual cues to calm traffic. Additional roadway space could provide dedicated bicycle lanes. Parking lanes could be eliminated to provide increased visibility.
For an example of how a landscaped median strip in Newton can calm traffic, see Grove Street just north of Riverside Station.
Construction costs could be relatively inexpensive, since drainage structures and curbs are not impacted. A low-cost and less permanent implementation could use asphalt berms and simply layer dirt on the road. Better construction could use granite curb and remove concrete to allow for drainage and tree plantings.
This section of Centre is designated to be redesigned and/or reconstructed in the fall of 2015 (uncertain)