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Tag: Allston I90

Comments regarding the transportation model underlying project design and operational decisions

Comments regarding the transportation model underlying project design and operational decisions

Re: Comments regarding the transportation model underlying project design and operational decisions

Dear FHWA Administrator McEwan and MassDOT Acting Director O’Dowd,

The I90 Allston Task Force met last night (December 11, 2019), the evening before today’s deadline for comments on the Allston I-90 NEPA Scoping Report.

The entire meeting (2+ hours) was consumed by a conversation about the model being used by CTPS (also to be used by MAPC on an additional study) to evaluate the requirements and impacts of the project. As became clear during the course of the presentation and Q&A, the assumptions about transit service that are built into the model will lead to results that point to very low use of West Station (45-60 minute headways during peak hours) and no use of the Grand Junction line (no service at all). The Task Force asked the project team for information about these assumptions a year ago because we were concerned about this issue and its potential impacts on the project review.

We ask that FHWA and MassDOT incorporate the meeting minutes of the Dec. 11 Task Force as WalkBoston’s comments about the Scoping Report because they reflect the serious questions needed to be answered about the basis on which project plans and designs will be made.

Most notably, if the model assumptions lead to results that show little to no use of West Station we fear that a number of decisions will be based on incorrect data:

  1. West Station will be put at risk because it will show such low ridership use
  2. Grand Junction components of the project will be at risk because there will seem to be no travel demand
  3. Bus, walking and biking elements of the West Station area will seem to be of little use because West Station will be shown as having very low use
  4. Sizing of roadway elements of the project (both highway and street elements of the project) will expand because almost all of the trips to be served will be modeled as vehicle trips – because such inadequate transit service has been baked into the model assumptions
  5. West Station and the rail service included in the project assessment will be at odds with the MBTA’s own plans for regional rail as recently voted on by the FMCB – thus putting the MEPA and NEPA analysis at risk for not conforming with state and local plans
  6. The I90 “Allston Multimodal Project” will be at odds with Massachusetts policies and goals regarding the reduction of GHG emissions because it will be premised on a vehicle-based transportation system – thus putting the MEPA and NEPA analysis at risk for not conforming with state and local plans

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments, and for including the comments of the I90 Task Force in the project record.

Wendy Landman

WalkBoston Senior Policy Advisor and Task Force Member

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

Allston Multimodal Project Outline for Purpose and Need Task Force Letter

Allston Multimodal Project Outline for Purpose and Need Task Force Letter

October 28, 2019

Dear Secretary Pollack, Mr. Miller, and members of the MassDOT Board and Fiscal Management and Control Board,

We, as members of the Allston I-90 Multimodal Project, have appreciated MassDOT’s commitment to an open and collaborative process over the past five years. We are eager to continue this collaboration as the state and federal environmental permitting processes commence. It is therefore extremely disappointing that the project team has refused to share a draft Purpose and Need statement with the Task Force. The development of the Purpose and Need is a crucially important element of the process; we are concerned that denying the Task Force an opportunity to contribute to this essential step will delay the process and jeopardize our collective ability to achieve the best outcome for this project.

We thus respectfully submit an outline of the Purpose and Need, drafted by a number of Task Force members on behalf of the many stakeholders that have participated in the Allston I-90 process to date.

Purpose and Need:

  • Replace the structurally deficient I-90 viaduct, Cambridge Street Overpass, and Franklin Street Pedestrian Bridge
  • Improve the functionally deficient I-90 interchange in order to improve highway safety and maximize the amount of land to be made available for non-highway uses
  • Provide a new network of street connections between the new interchange and existing city streets that prioritizes multimodal operations and safety, and complies with the City of Boston Complete Streets Guidelines, Vision Zero policy, and 25mph speed limit
  • Reinstate passenger rail service to an area where it was discontinued when I-90 was originally built
  • Provide a four-track station and associated rail and bridge infrastructure to enable passenger rail service along the Grand Junction line, and transfers between that line and the Worcester-Framingham line
  • Provide multiple new bicycle, pedestrian, and bus connections between the area south of I-90 and Lower Allston and the Charles River, reconnecting the two halves of the neighborhood that have long been divided by rail and highway infrastructure
  • Repair the large gap in the urban fabric that has historically separated North and South Allston due to the rail and turnpike open cut design, by providing decking over new rail and highway infrastructure sufficient to support continuity of people-oriented land uses connecting North and South Allston
  • Expand and enhance the Paul Dudley White Path and parkland along the Charles River in what is currently the most dimensionally constrained and functionally, aesthetically, and ecologically deficient section of the Charles River Reservation as a direct result of the impacts of I-90 and Soldiers’ Field Road
  • Repair the eroded, manmade edge of the Charles River in order to restore the riverbank conditions and aquatic and riparian habitat of the Charles River, expand tree canopy, minimize untreated stormwater outflows to the River, and provide for stormwater flood resilience
  • Provide a significantly improved safety, noise, and vibration buffer between highway and rail infrastructure and adjacent residential areas and parklands
  • Build a new “People’s Pike” bicycle and pedestrian corridor that provides a direct, safe, low-stress connection between the Allston neighborhood and the Charles River, as called for in the City of Boston 2013 Bicycle Network Plan
  • Address public health, environmental justice, and issues of open space access and equity for residents impacted by the highway, as called for in the City of Boston Open Space Plan 2015-2021

We look forward to continuing to work in an open and collaborative manner with your agencies to expediently permit a project that will meet all of these important needs.

Thank you,
Henrietta Davis, Former Mayor of Cambridge and Task Force member
Jason Desrosier, Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation, Task Force member
Anthony D’Isidoro, Allston Civic Association, Allston resident, and Task Force member
Laura Jasinski, Charles River Conservancy, Task Force member
Harry Mattison, Allston resident and Task Force member
Galen Mook, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, Allston resident, and Task Force member
Ari Ofsevit, LivableStreets Alliance, Cambridgeport resident, and Task Force member
Jessica Robertson, Allston resident and Task Force member
Bob Sloane and Stacey Beuttell, WalkBoston, Task Force member
Stacy Thompson, Livable Streets Alliance

CC:
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley
State Senator William Brownsberger
State Senator Sal DiDomenico
State Representative Michael Moran
State Representative Kevin Honan
City Council President Andrea Campbell
City Councilor-at-large Michelle Wu
City Councilor Mark Ciommo
Chief of Streets Chris Osgood
Boston Planning and Development Agency Director Brian Golden
Kate Fichter, MassDOT
Michael O’Dowd, MassDOT

One Minute, One Slide: I-90: #UnchokeTheThroat was just the beginning

One Minute, One Slide: I-90: #UnchokeTheThroat was just the beginning

Below is a “One Minute, One Slide” presentation shared by a member of the WalkBoston staff.
Text provided is as prepared for this year’s annual event on March 18, 2019.

Bob Sloane

Unchoke the Throat was just the beginning! It turns out that it was getting a tiger by the tail, and now we’ve found that the tiger has more than one tail, and we have to catch them all! The I-90 project stretches a mile in each direction – most recognizably from the BU Bridge to the River St. Bridge.

It involves making a new interchange for I-90 and several miles of public street to access the 100 acre development parcel surrounding the roads. It involves pedestrian access to a major transit station – West Station – from all directions, along with several off-road paths – the most well-known now being the ones through the throat.

The paths through the throat are now going to be two separate paths – one for peds and one for bikes – thanks to our Unchoke the Throat effort. The paths are in place in all current options.

Turn to Page 17 of your hymnals to see where we are right now.

There are still 2 options for the Throat being worked on. Neither has a very good riverside park, and both involve terminating the use of the riverside path – the Paul Dudley White – for up to 10 years (!) – and diverting walkers and riders
to Cambridge. We’re working on that – we hope to have a temporary boardwalk out in the river through the Throat so that the paths will still work for all of us and we are working on a better park along the river’s edge.

To learn more, check out our project page.

Comment Letter on Paul Dudley White Construction Period Maintenance (02/7/19)

Comment Letter on Paul Dudley White Construction Period Maintenance (02/7/19)

February 7, 2019

Stephanie Pollack                                             Leo Roy
Secretary of Transportation                            Commissioner
Commonwealth of Massachusetts                Department of Conservation & Recreation
Transportation Building                                   251 Causeway Street
10 Park Plaza                                                      9th Floor
Boston, MA 02116                                            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 atemporary 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