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Category: Announcement

Joint Comment Letter on MassDCR Arborway Improvement Project

Joint Comment Letter on MassDCR Arborway Improvement Project

December 16, 2019

Department of Conservation and Recreation
Office of Public Outreach
251 Causeway St 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02114

CC: Senator Chang-Diaz, Representative Nika Elugardo, Representative Liz Malia, City
Councilor Matt O’Malley, Chief of Streets Chris Osgood

Dear Mr. Jeff Parenti and team at DCR,

We are so glad the planning process for improving the Arborway has begun. Thank you for prioritizing this project and dedicating time and money to implementing short-term improvements. We agree with and support the overall project goals shared at the first meeting and are looking forward to partnering with you to reach those goals. One additional overall goal we suggest for the project is to restore the park in parkway. As the Massachusetts Historic
Parkways Initiative publication from 2002 highlighted (on its cover!), “A parkway is not a road; it’s a park with a road in it”. Not only is increased access to existing green spaces important, but also increasing green space and trees in the project area and restoring this section of the Emerald Necklace back to being primarily a park and secondarily a road.

Thank you for adding curb cuts and ramps where they are currently missing. This will not only help pedestrians and people using wheelchairs, but also cyclists who take the sidewalk due to unsafe road conditions.

We propose the following suggestions to the short-term improvements and overall planning
process from the meeting on November 21:

1. Changes to the proposed short-term improvements

We have identified three goals that we suggest should guide the short-term improvements: (1) Short-term improvements should calm traffic with a measurable outcome in vehicle speeds, (2) Short-term improvements should result in a measurable reduction in the number of crashes and (3) Short-term improvements should show increased pedestrian and cyclist usage along the stretch. In order to measure the progress and inform the permanent changes, part of the short-term process should include collecting before/after speed data on the impact of these changes and conducting bike and pedestrian counts before and after.

Specifically, in response to the proposed short-term changes we recommend the following:

a. Adjust the positioning of the crosswalk and curb cuts at the Arborway crossing on the exit that brings cars towards Forest Hills so that pedestrians have a better view of oncoming cars. All of us who use this crosswalk regularly agree that this is the most dangerous and difficult crossing especially because as you cross you
can’t see what is coming behind you.

b. Include a lane removal in the carriage lanes between Murray and Kelley Circles as a short-term improvement and put in a physically separated bike lane in the reclaimed space.

c. Add a crosswalk over Centre St by Orchard St which is a current desire line used frequently by pedestrians.

d. Narrow lanes as much as possible in Murray Circle by adding flex posts or other barriers in addition to the paint proposed to narrow lanes.

e. There is currently no proposal for how to improve cyclist safety in Murray circle in the short-term. While we realize traffic calming may be the most significant improvement, we would like to see options for getting cyclists through Murray Circle in the short-term; one that directs cyclists to use sidewalks with paint and signage and one that keeps cyclists on the road. Please circulate options for public feedback before implementation this spring.

2. A robust public engagement process

Especially given the history of previous planning processes for the Arborway and the frustrations expressed by the public at the first meeting, we suggest extra communication and time with the public and believe that this will lead to the most successful process and outcome. We appreciate, for example, the robust public comment period held during the first meeting and are glad to hear that there is a communications and facilitation team for meetings moving forward.

We ask for a publication of a timeline for the project that outlines expected meetings, other public engagement opportunities and milestones (25% design, construction, etc) as soon as possible. We suggest quarterly meetings or other public engagement during the project planning phase. We strongly feel that this will go a long way in building trust and transparency with area-residents. We hope the process is as concise as possible and includes regular communication so residents continue to engage productively in the planning and discussion.

Finally, we suggest including walks as a public engagement tool. We have seen that people who currently only drive through the area have a very different understanding of the safety and connectivity needs when walking or riding a bike there.

3. Coordination

a. Given resident concerns about traffic being diverted to side streets, we suggest including those neighborhood side streets in Jamaica Hills and the Jamaica Pond neighborhood in traffic studies and projected traffic patterns to demonstrate to residents the hopefully minimal impact it will have on their streets.

b. Thank you for the coordination and communication you have had with the City of Boston around this project. We hope this will continue so the City can partner around implementing some traffic calming at intersections or side streets that will be impacted.

c. We understand that Centre/Walter St and Arborway are proceeding at the same time. We ask that DCR consider the impact one project will have on the other and ensure that both consultant teams are sharing information and plans. We ask that public meetings on either project share consolidated updates on the other related process.

4. Other overall comments

a. We are glad to see one of the goals is to “Create a continuous and comfortable bicycle and pedestrian connection between the Arboretum and Pond”. We ask that the bicycle facilities be physically separated the entire length regardless of whether they are a shared-use path off-road or on-road facility.

b. As you move forward conducting traffic studies, we encourage you and the consultant team to not only consider current vehicle demand to predict future behavior, but to take into consideration that a design that encourages walking/biking can actually get people out of their cars. Both the Commonwealth, under the Global Warming Solutions Act, and the City of Boston have ambitious goals (e.g., Boston reducing emissions and car traffic in half by 2030) that relate to reducing the number of cars on the roads. Emissions from the transportation sector have stayed steady in the state and are not meeting the reduction goals we have set; as a State agency who has custody & control of the roadways we believe DCR can be a critical partner in meeting these goals.

Thank you for your consideration of our suggestions. We look forward to continuing to work together around our shared goals for this project.

Eliza Parad, Boston Cyclists Union
Tom Francis, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition
Ambar Johnson, LivableStreets Alliance
Brendan Kearney, WalkBoston
Evan Judd, West Rox Walks
Sarah Freeman, Arborway Coalition
David Wean, Rozzie Bikes
Ben Wetherill, West Roxbury Bicycle Committee

BPDA to Vote on Kenmore Square Project Tomorrow Night

BPDA to Vote on Kenmore Square Project Tomorrow Night

At tomorrow night’s board meeting, the Boston Planning and Development Agency will vote on whether to approve a new development project in Kenmore Square. The proposed project aims to improve walkability and bikeability by eliminating the road fork on the west side of Kenmore, and is being championed by walkability expert and design consultant Jeff Speck. Jeff is a Golden Shoe winner and was our keynote speaker at our Annual Celebration in March 2018. This meeting is an important opportunity to show support for better pedestrian and bike access in that area.

Read more about this project from Jeff on Streetsblog:

How To Fix A Fork (In The Road)

Want to speak up in support of this project? Details are below for those who wish to weigh in.

When: Thursday, December 12 at 6:10 PM
Where: City Hall, 9th floor, room 900

Images: Cupola Media for Speck & Associates, courtesy of StreetsBlog

 

Please add your voice to the design and environmental review of MassDOT’s plans to rebuild the Mass Pike Allston Interchange!

Please add your voice to the design and environmental review of MassDOT’s plans to rebuild the Mass Pike Allston Interchange!

The federal environmental review for the I-90 project is about to begin, and there are elements of this project design that are causing us concern.

We need your help to submit comments on the design before Thursday, Dec. 12th 2019. Over 100 people emailed in February 2018, and it changed the process for the better. Can we count on you again?

DearMassDOT

Send an email to I-90Allston@dot.state.ma.us and cc: comments@walkboston.org when you send it in!

Here are WalkBoston’s top five concerns with the current plan:

  1. The construction of West Station is not being accelerated, and the design of the tracks and station cannot accommodate the level of rail service that is needed to serve the Framingham-Worcester corridor or the Boston/Cambridge/Brookline neighborhoods near the station. The MBTA Board of Directors recently endorsed a plan to significantly increase the frequency of commuter rail service – MassDOT’s plan for West Station must align with that vision.
  2. The walking and biking connections provided in MassDOT’s proposal do not include the connections that we need between the Charles River path and Allston Village or Commonwealth Avenue including: a safer new Franklin Street Footbridge connecting North and South Allston, without the unsafe switchback hairpin turns currently included in design; a footbridge at Agganis Way to connect Allston, Comm Ave, and Boston University to the Charles River paths; and a new park and multi-use path built as a buffer between the Wadsworth Street neighborhood and the train tracks,
  3. The project’s purpose must include a plan to improve the quality and extent of the Charles River parkland, the storage and treatment of stormwater, the ecological health of the river, and the need to provide human access to the river’s edge.
  4. MassDOT must provide a detailed plan to effectively mitigate travel disruptions during the 10-year construction period. No additional rail or bus service has yet been described or offered and no commitment has been made to keeping two tracks in service on the Framingham-Worcester Line during construction.
  5. The construction plan described by MassDOT will have significant impacts on the Charles River for 10+ years. Project planning must include further review of design and construction alternatives to ensure that these impacts are mitigated and reduced to the greatest extent possible.

We need your help to speak up for the future of this project!

Below you’ll see an email template you can adapt and send to
I-90Allston@dot.state.ma.us and comments@walkboston.org before next Thursday, Dec. 12 to make your voice heard.

Thank you for speaking up for a better Allston I-90!

Sincerely,
WalkBoston

Sample Email
Recommended email subject: Comments for Mass Pike’s Allston Interchange Project
Dear Allston I-90 Project Team,
I am writing to give my comments on MassDOT’s current project plan for the Mass Pike Allston Interchange project.
[Tell your own story here. Why are you concerned with this project? What do you support and what would you like to be considered? What points above would you like to include?]
Thank you,
[full name
street address
city/town, state, zip
phone:
email: ]

More Context + Reading on the Allston I-90 Project

job opportunities with partner organizations

job opportunities with partner organizations

Position: NACTO Conference Walkshop Manager

Description: The Cities of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville are proud to serve as the hosts for the 2020 National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Designing Cities conference. The conference will bring together over 900 transportation professionals, primarily from municipal transportation departments, from September 14 – September 17, 2020. A vital element of this annual conference is the “walkshops” – mobile workshops that allow attendees to visit, learn about, and reflect on projects in the region. Approximately 50 walkshops take place over three days. Walkshops may include the following methods of transportation: walking, biking, transit, shuttle bus, and/or boat.

At the direction of the Primary Contact for the conference, the Walkshop Manager will work closely with staff from Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville to develop walkshops that cover a wide range of projects and present opportunities for attendees to learn directly from the people behind the projects. See full listing.

Position Dates: Contract position through 10/16/2020.

How to Apply: Submit both your resume and letter of interest via email to: employment@cambridgema.gov – resume and letter of interest requested by 12/13/19. Position will remain open until filled.


Position: Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) Policy Director

Description: T4MA is seeking an experienced Policy Director to promote our statewide coalition’s policy priorities to address the Commonwealth’s transportation crisis. See full listing.

How to Apply: Send resume and cover letter to info@t4ma.org with the subject line: “Policy Director Application.” Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, as we seek to fill this position as quickly as possible. No phone calls, please.


Position: Boston Cyclists Union Membership & Events Coordinator

Description: The Membership and Events Coordinator manages the Boston Cyclists Union’s rapidly growing membership, events, and volunteer programs. They manage and assist in planning fundraising events and rides, like Biketoberfest and Bostreal; recruit volunteers to help execute engagement events and programs; develop and execute communication strategies related to member recruitment, engagement, and retention; and collaborate with staff to explore other fundraising and development opportunities. Through the work they fulfill the Bike Union’s goals of growing and supporting our membership, and building the bike community and the network of bike-friendly businesses in the Boston area. See full listing.

How to Apply: Send cover letter and resume to jobs@bostoncyclistsunion.org. Please include “Membership, Events, and Development Coordinator, YOUR NAME” in the subject line of the email, and be sure to mention where you saw the job advertised. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled, with preference given to applications received by January 6th.

Walking Around South Boston’s Andrew Square

Walking Around South Boston’s Andrew Square

Spurred by engaged citizens and Councilor Ed Flynn’s office, WalkBoston led a pedestrian safety walk around the Andrew Square neighborhood of South Boston on Wednesday, December 4th. Area residents, Andrew Square Civic Association members, Councilor Flynn and staffers engaged in a lively discussion about current threats to pedestrian safety and a history of pedestrian injuries in and along Andrew Square, Old Colony Ave, Preble Street, Dorchester Street and Dorchester Avenue. The area has seen a number of development projects, with a significant amount yet to come in the future along Dorchester Avenue guided by PLAN: South Boston Dot Ave. Walking through the neighborhood, residents and WalkBoston staff noted various safety concerns driven by augmented traffic volume that has negatively impacted people walking or biking within the neighborhood and to the T station.

Attendees offered many potential solutions, including speed reduction, new crosswalks and restriping, road diets, bike lanes, and improved pedestrian signaling. After a snow storm, the walk also provided an opportunity to observe snow removal practices in action and areas of improvement. WalkBoston looks forward to supporting Andrew Square residents in advocating for policies and improvement measures that result in safer streets for everyone.

Development projects in the area impact pedestrian routes.
Parking close to crosswalks reduces visibility and pedestrian safety.
Snow and ice produce new challenges for walkers.