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Category: Comment Letter

Comment Letter on Paul Dudley White Construction Period

Comment Letter on Paul Dudley White Construction Period

February 7, 2019

Stephanie Pollack
Secretary of Transportation
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Transportation Building
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116

Leo Roy
Commissioner
Department of Conservation & Recreation
251 Causeway Street
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02114

Dear Secretary Pollack and Commissioner Roy:

We, the undersigned organizations, applaud MassDOT’s decision to rebuild the interchange of I-90 in Allston by reconstructing the Turnpike in a way that will result in wider riverside parkland and, we anticipate, restored riverbank. In addition to its environmental benefits, this will enhance facilities for the walkers, cyclists, and runners who flock to the area for recreation and commuting. We write to respond to the announcement that construction of the I-90 Intermodal Project will require an extended closure of the Paul Dudley White (PDW) path.

We urge you to develop a plan to retain the path during the construction period. We acknowledge that the project design next steps involve extensive mitigation, that stakeholders will continue to actively participate in stakeholder discussions, and that there is an immediate need to flag concerns regarding the PDW path.

The construction of the I-90 Project cannot and should not require closure of the Paul Dudley White (PDW) path for 8-10 years. The number of people who use the path and rely upon it as a commuter route is simply too large (and growing) to result in PDW users’ diversion to Cambridge. The proposed detour routes through Cambridge are difficult to maneuver and involve unsafe situations where path users will be forced to cross dangerous intersections and cyclists will be directed toward narrow sidewalks causing hazardous conditions for pedestrians sharing the walkway.

Our understanding is that closure of the PDW is an anticipated result of construction in the Throat area. We also understand that other parts of the project site, which are not as confined, offer places where the PDW path can be integrated safely with the highway construction. The law requires that MassDOT implement “all possible planning to minimize harm to the . . . recreation area” during and after construction. To comply, MassDOT and DCR must mitigate construction impacts in the Throat area allowing the PDW path to remain open for as much of the construction period as practicable, preferably on land or, if there is no other option, on a temporary structure in the Charles River.

In the past short temporary boardwalks have been built in the Charles River — for example, to bypass the Bowker interchange reconstruction. Temporary boardwalks have been used safely and effectively in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore park in Indiana, Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, New York, and at beaches in the Cape Cod National Seashore and in Duxbury and Sandwich, Massachusetts.

We urge you to incorporate plans to ensure access to the PDW path on the Boston side of the Charles River as you proceed with the difficult design work in the I-90 Throat area. The provision of a temporary Boston-side walking and biking path during construction is a necessary and legally required project element to mitigate any interruption in access to the permanent PDW path and prevent the safety problems that a Cambridge detour would bring to pedestrians and cyclists. Given the potentially lengthy roadway disruptions, alternative modes of transportation on the PDW will be critical to the Project’s success. We further request that the PDW path construction phase plans be added to the agenda for an upcoming Allston Multimodal Project Task Force meeting.

Thank you very much for your consideration and we look forward to your response.

Wendy Landman, Bob Sloane, WalkBoston
Margaret Van Deusen, Pallavi Mande, Charles River Watershed Association
Laura Jasinski, Harry Mattison, Charles River Conservancy
Staci Rubin, Conservation Law Foundation
Michael Nichols, The Esplanade Association
Galen Mook, Executive Director, MassBike
Becca Wolfson, Boston Cyclists Union
Stacy Thompson, Livable Streets

CC: City of Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh, Chief of Streets Chris Osgood
City of Cambridge, Mayor Marc McGovern, Transportation Program Manager Bill Deignan
Town of Brookline, Transportation Board Chair Chris Dempsey
FHWA, Division Administrator Jeff McEwen, Assistant Division Administrator Ken Miller
Senator Joseph Boncore
Senator William Brownsberger
Senator Sal DiDomenico
Representative Michael Moran
Representative Kevin Honan
Representative Jay Livingstone
Representative Tommy Vitolo

Comments on Width of Northern Strand Community Trail

Comments on Width of Northern Strand Community Trail

February 6, 2019

To Kurt Gaertner
Land Policy and Planning Director
MA Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs

Mr. Gaertner,

Thank you for your continued efforts to develop the Northern Strand Community Trail from the Mystic River to Lynn. We are inspired by the leadership and dedication demonstrated by your team and Governor Baker, and we appreciate your extensive community outreach as the pathway is developed over this coming year.

We would like to comment on the inadequate width of the pathway, as it has been presented by the project team, as a contiguous 10’ width for the entire length. The standards set forth in AASHTO and MassDOT’s own separated path design guidelines recommend 10’ only on low-volume pathways, with a recommendation of 12’-14’ for paths with high pedestrian volumes. Based on current and projected usage of the pathway, we believe the Northern Strand Community Trail should adhere to the standard of 12’-14’, or even potentially exceed that, wherever possible. It is important also to note that these path standards do not take into account the emerging technologies of micro-mobility devices and electric bicycles, which will invariably be used for transportation purposes on the Northern Strand. This goal of widening the pathway is to mitigate conflicts between users, and to plan for the area’s expected growth and development that will bring more people out onto the path in the coming years. We believe that the pathway’s intention is to serve the community and provide safe recreation and transportation options, and thus we implore the EOEEA and the project team to widen the pathway.

The communities served by this pathway are dense residential and commercial areas. The communities of Everett, Malden, Revere, Saugus, and Lynn are cities and towns that are developing at an expected growth of more than 12% by 2040 (see: MAPC Population Growth Projections). By comparison, many other regional pathways are already strained in capacity due to their narrow designs, and we see issues of narrowness contributing to user conflicts on the Minuteman Bikeway, the Paul Dudley White Bike Path, and the Southwest Corridor. This pathway is also a crucial corridor for the East Coast Greenway, a contiguous route that connects 15 states with 3,000 miles of trails. We can assume the Northern Strand will receive heavy usage, and we must design and build accordingly to ourprojections.

(Population and Housing Demand Projections for Metro Boston:

http://www.mapc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/MAPC-MetroBoston-Projections_ExecSumm-1_16_14.pdf)

Further, as you have heard at every public meeting, the worry about conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians/joggers is a widely held concern. A wider pathway means a safer pathway, with more room for more people at varying speeds to maneuver and pass safely. We feel that a 10’ pathway is not sufficient to provide space for two-way walkers, joggers, strollers, and bicyclists to co-exist without conflict. Since safety is of paramount concern, especially as this pathway serves users young and old, we recommend widening the pathway to 12’-14’, or alternatively providing separate spaces for bicyclists and pedestrians/joggers where right-of-way allows.

We appreciate how the design and construction of the Northern Strand has a funding limitation set by the Commonwealth’s budget, and this may impact the width of the path by requiring less pavement as a cost issue. However, the cost of additional 2’-4’ of pavement at the onset of construction is considerably less than having to go back and widen the pathway after construction and landscaping has completed. Widening the pathway where possible on Day One only makes financial sense.

Lastly, we should expect the Northern Strand to be used as a commuter route, and thus will have users after dark during the months of October – March (since we live in the Northern Latitudes and the sun sets early in the evening). We ask the project team take into account lighting wherever feasible to provide safe passage for pathway users. Along this argument, we also acknowledge that lighting elements will eventually be installed along certain sections of the pathway, once enough people are using the pathway to provide a safe environment. Thus, we ask that the EOEEA and the project team install conduits for lighting during this initial construction of the pathway where lighting is expected to be installed in the future, to more easily facilitate and lower the cost of installing lighting later on.

We appreciate your consideration of these issues of wider pathway and lighting elements for the Northern Strand. We applaud your team and the leadership for supporting this impactful project, and we look forward to the benefits it will bring the region for better health and wellness, smart growth development, and sustainable transportation connecting these cities and towns.

Sincerely,

Galen Mook, Executive Director, MassBike

Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston

Kristine Keeney, New England Coordinator, East Coast Greenway Alliance

Comments on West Roxbury Pedestrian Crashes

Comments on West Roxbury Pedestrian Crashes

Councilor Matt O’Malley
Boston City Hall
1 City Hall Plaza
Boston, MA 02108

February 14, 2019

Re: Pedestrian Fatalities in West Roxbury

Dear Councilor O’Malley:

We understand that you’ve taken a leading role responding to the fatal crashes in West Roxbury on 11/7/18 and 2/5/19. WalkBoston is writing to express our support for your effort to address these two pedestrian fatalities. To meaningfully reduce traffic fatalities, we need to address the common denominator: road design. Both occurred on arterial roadways with very limited street crossings.

November 7, 2018 at Washington/Stimson

A pedestrian was struck and killed at this intersection. From the Boston Globe:

Steve Primack has an office on Washington Street near that intersection, but wasn’t there when the man was hit. Primack said lights and other traffic calming measures are needed there. “I’m not really surprised. It’s a very, very dangerous intersection,” he said. “There’s a number of blind spots, and people fly down that road. It’s a shame that somebody had to die. It could have been prevented.”

February 5, 2019 at Centre/Hastings

A pedestrian was struck and killed at this intersection. A parent and child leaving the Lyndon School witnessed this fatality. Parents say they have had many near misses on this stretch of Centre Street such as double threats (a driver in one lane yielding at the crosswalk and waving a person to cross, with drivers in the other lane not slowing down). As with Washington Street, residents have been saying for years that traffic moves too quickly along the roadway and that a road diet is long overdue.

When Centre Street was being redesigned 15 years ago, WalkBoston – with the support of many residents and small business owners – asked the City to design a narrower roadway with one vehicle travel lane in each direction, plus turning lanes where needed. People drive much too fast along this main street of a densely settled residential neighborhood.

When two pedestrian fatalities occurred on Tremont Street in the South End, the Transportation Department quickly installed flex posts and signage, while a planning process is now under design for a road diet. WalkBoston urges the City to take steps now to slow traffic on Washington and Centre Street, and put these arterials on road diets.

In the City Council 20mph hearing on 11/13/18, you suggested a hearing on automated enforcement. Senator Brownsberger has filed a bill this session (SD1461) at the State House. We would be happy to discuss this as another tool for creating safer streets.

Sincerely,

Dorothea Hass, Senior Project Manager
Brendan Kearney, Communications Director

cc: Commissioner Gina Fiandaca, BTD
City Councilor Michelle Wu, Planning Development and Transportation Committee Chair

Comment letter on Waterways Application #W18-5358: Proposed bike/ped path from 80 Alford St/Route 99 to Draw Seven Park Ch 91 license

Comment letter on Waterways Application #W18-5358: Proposed bike/ped path from 80 Alford St/Route 99 to Draw Seven Park Ch 91 license

January 24, 2018

Jerome Grafe
MassDEP Waterways Program
1 Winter Street, 5th floor
Boston, MA 02108

RE: Waterways Application # W18-5358: Proposed bike/ped path from 80 Alford St/Route 99 to Draw Seven Park Ch 91 license

Dear Jerome,

WalkBoston is excited to hear of the proposal for a new bike/ped path connecting Draw Seven Park in Somerville to Route 99 in Boston/Charlestown. This path, atop the new MBTA sea wall at 80 Alford Street, will be a terrific boon to the Mystic River path network.

We support the Friends of the Community Path (FCP) and the Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP) in asking for the following revisions to the proposed path design:

  1. Widen the path from 10’ to 12’-14’ wherever possible.
  2. Ensure that the path design will be harmonious with the ongoing Mystic River bike/ped bridge design, so that there will be an appropriate path connection to the future Mystic River bike/ped bridge at the Draw Seven Park edge of the MBTA busway property.
  3. Ensure that the path design does not preclude a signalized crosswalk over Route 99 for safe bike/ped access to Ryan Playground, the Schraffts building, and the Boston Harborwalk. Plans for a safe bike/ped crossing at this location will also need to take future roadway projects on Rutherford Avenue into account.
  4. Connect the path to one of the public roads (Beacham Street or Moosal Place/Sherman Street) that connect to Broadway, so that pedestrians and cyclists need not go all the way to Assembly Square and then turn back in order to reach Broadway.

We also support FCP and STEP’s call for a public meeting about this proposal. Given that this path will be an important link in the Mystic River path network, many stakeholders and members of the public have a compelling interest in these issues. WalkBoston looks forward to continued engagement to ensure that this critical path connection moves forward.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director