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Tag: Arlington

Walkable school campus design is back!

Walkable school campus design is back!

photo courtesy of MA SRTS

With the design and construction of many new schools in Massachusetts, WalkBoston is busy once again working to ensure that the proposed site plans prioritize students walking to school. We just met with HMFH Architects and Crosby|Schlessinger|Smallridge to discuss the Arlington High School Building project this week at the request of some of our Arlington supporters.

Just a reminder that we published Walk to School? But how do I find the front door?: Strategies for designing a walkable school campus a couple of years ago. It’s as relevant as ever. Download your copy today.

Arlington Massachusetts Avenue Redesign Regional Advocate Comment Letter

Arlington Massachusetts Avenue Redesign Regional Advocate Comment Letter

To: Richard Davey

Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation

From: Phil Goff, Co-Chairman, East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition
David Watson, Executive Director, MassBike
Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston
Charlie Denison, Advocacy Committee Chair, LivableStreets Alliance
Chris Hart, Director of Transportation Projects, Institute of Human Centered Design
Pete Stidman, Executive Director, Boston Cyclists Union

Re: Arlington Mass Ave Corridor Plan redesign project
Date: March 28, 2013

Dear Secretary Davey:

As a group of neighborhood and regional advocacy organizations that promote Complete Streets, safer walking and bicycling, and sustainable transportation planning policies, we are unanimous in our support of the Town of Arlington’s current plan for the reconstruction of Massachusetts Avenue from the Cambridge line to Arlington Center. The Town’s current plan includes the reconfiguration of the de facto four-lane street into a three-lane roadway with striped bike lanes, wider sidewalks, improved crosswalks with refuge islands and an assortment of streetscape enhancements. We are collectively writing to express our concern that MassDOT may give too much weight to a non-binding ballot question on the local ballot in Arlington that contradicts state policies and guidelines.

Public support for the Mass Ave project is strong throughout East Arlington and among a number of businesses in the Capitol Square business district. This has been made clear in numerous meetings in the past three years, including MassDOT’s 2011 25% design hearing where over 60% of the public comments were made in support of the three-lane plan. More recently, MassDOT’s Feb 26th 75% hearing drew hundreds of supporters from throughout the Town and public comments in support ran 3:1 versus those opposed. The Arlington Board of Selectmen unanimously supports the plan and would like to see the four-and-a-half year process come to a conclusion soon.

Similar to other projects that promote a reduction in the available space for motor vehicles, opposition has formed among some neighbors and businesses. For the past four years, the opposition group has become more entrenched and has tried to delay or stop the project on numerous occasions. Most recently, opponents to the current three-lane plan gathered enough signatures to place a non-binding referendum on the April 6th ballot for Town elections. The question simply asks if Arlington voters desire to “retain four lanes on Mass Ave in East Arlington as currently practiced.”

The question discusses none of the safety benefits of the three-lane plan, whether four lanes would accommodate MassDOT design guidelines or the potential impact on funding of a “yes” vote. While we respect the use of a ballot referendum to guide local decision-making, the simplicity of the question is an inappropriate response to a complex roadway design and engineering project. A resulting “yes” vote to recommend a four-lane plan would contradict MassDOT guidelines for safe bicycle accommodations and puts numerous pedestrian safety features at risk. Four travel lanes would also contradict the goals set forth in the Healthy Transportation Compact, the GreenDOT policy, the Governor’s “Way Forward” and the Mode Shift Goals to triple the share of walking, bicycling and transit use by 2030.

The Board of Selectmen has made clear their support for the project and, short of an extremely-unlikely lopsided vote, will continue to support a three-lane design in accordance with state policy and guidelines. However, in both individual meetings and at the 75% hearing, Town officials and community members have received mixed messages from MassDOT staff about the potential results of the referendum. This included hints that a majority “yes” vote for four lanes could endanger state support and funding for the current three-lane plan. This possibility is a serious concern to our organizations as a worrisome precedent to future roadway reconstruction projects that incorporate pedestrian and bicycle enhancements that may be controversial.

In conclusion, we strongly encourage MassDOT to maintain support and full funding for the reconstruction of Mass Ave in Arlington no matter the results of the simplistic non-binding referendum. To abandon support would send a message that MassDOT is unwilling to stand behind its own Complete Streets policies, guidelines and goals, and would encourage opposition to Complete Streets in projects throughout the Commonwealth.

CC: Tom Broderick, Chief Engineer, MassDOT
Kim Sloan, Project Manager, MassDOT
Senator Ken Donnelly
Representative Sean Garballey
Representative Dave Rogers
Kevin Greeley, Chair of the Arlington Board of Selectmen Adam Chapdelaine, Arlington Town Manager Congressman Ed Markey

Massachusetts Avenue Reconstruction Regional Advocate Comment Letter

Massachusetts Avenue Reconstruction Regional Advocate Comment Letter

As a group of neighborhood and regional advocacy organizations that promote Complete Streets, safer walking and bicycling, and sustainable transportation planning policies, we are unanimous in our support of the Town of Arlington’s current plan for the reconstruction of Massachusetts Avenue from the Cambridge line to Arlington Center. The Town’s current plan includes the reconfiguration of the de facto four-lane street into a three-lane roadway with striped bike lanes, wider sidewalks, improved crosswalks with refuge islands and an assortment of streetscape enhancements. We are collectively writing to express our concern that MassDOT may give too much weight to a non-binding ballot question on the local ballot in Arlington that contradicts state policies and guidelines.

Read the letter here:
WalkBoston-Comment-RegionalAdvocatesMassAve_130328-Arlington

 

Arlington Walking Map

Arlington Walking Map

At first glance Arlington seems to be one more pleasant suburb of Boston—a good place to live without much for visitors to see. Not so. The town paid a pivotal role in the American Revolution, as this stroll down the popular new Minuteman Rail Trail and through the heart of town will reveal to you. Along the way you’ll also discover its appealing restaurants, retail shops, and pond-studded green space.

Arlington, once known as Menotomy (its Native American name), stepped into American history on April 19, 1775. On that date the townsfolk watched the main British force pass on their route to Concord. When lightly protected supply trains followed, Arlingtonians attacked. Their rewards were the first British prisoners and stores captured in the Revolution. More than half of the casualties that day took place on this portion of the historic battle road.

Several buildings dating from the Revolutionary War period remain—surrounded now by an active, lively urban community.

WalkBoston’s Arlington Walking Map on Google Maps

Click for “WalkBoston’s Arlington Walking Map” on Google Maps

 

Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Alewife Brook Greenway MEPA #14431

Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Alewife Brook Greenway MEPA #14431

June 29, 2009

Secretary Ian Bowles
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Alewife Brook Greenway
MEPA # 14431

Dear Secretary Bowles:

WalkBoston is pleased to review the Alewife Brook Greenway Environmental Notification Form (ENF). We have found the proposal extremely interesting, as it expands the off-road network of trails and walkways that are so important to metro arearesidents for transportation and recreation. The ENF details improvements that will be made for both pedestrians and bicyclists on a corridor between Alewife Brook MBTA Station and the Mystic Valley Parkway that leads through Cambridge, Somerville and Arlington, and has connections to the Minuteman Pathway, the Linear Park/Community Path route into Somerville, the Mystic River parklands and future paths into Belmont and Watertown.

This is an extremely important piece of the regional trail network. We are happy to endorse its construction and even happier to realize that it may be constructed relatively rapidly as part of the national stimulus construction agenda.

In our review, we noted a few concerns of importance to pedestrians:

1. The proposed network does not provide for fully separated bicycle and pedestrian paths.
In two segments of the proposed improvement (1. Between the Mystic Valley Parkway and Broadway; and 2. between Henderson Street and Massachusetts Avenue) there appears to be a partial separation of bicycle and pedestrian paths. By contrast, there is only a single path between Broadway and Henderson Street and between Massachusetts Avenue and the MBTA Alewife Station. This will result in an effective capacity of two 10’-wide paths in the areas of separated paths and only one 10’-wide path in the other parts of the corridor. We are concerned about the safety of pedestrians in portions of the corridor where the capacity is limited. In those areas, consideration should be given to a wider cross-section on the path to accommodate potential demand.

2. The proposal does not indicate whether there will be signage to can foster safe walking. Pedestrian safety in mixed walking and cycling traffic can be an issue of concern, depending on the volume of traffic that uses the paths. While we would prefer separate facilities that are clearly designated as such, it does not appear to be feasible throughout the entire corridor. We therefore suggest that signing and warnings be provided to make the route safe for all users. This might include, for example:

  • Lane separation lines for the north and south directions.
  • Signs warning pedestrians to stay to the right of the path.
  • Signs advising cyclists to ring a warning bell as they approach pedestrians from behind.
  • Route signs designating a cyclist trail along the paths that abut Alewife Brooke Parkway.

3. The Boardwalk parallel to Alewife Brook Parkway has the potential for becoming a bottleneck, as it accommodates all path traffic in a narrow corridor. The boardwalk overlooks and is cantilevered over the river in the section extending north of Henderson Street and is one of the most accessible portions of the pathways for nearby residents. It is also close to Dilboy Field, which has occasional special sports events. If the boardwalk accommodates both pedestrians and cyclists and is closely fenced on both sides, it has the potential for becoming heavily used and potentially unsafe for people on foot. Would it be possible to widen the boardwalk to at least 12 feet in this location?

4. Seating and observation areas should be maximized.The path promises to be a very pleasant route. Many people will want to sit occasionally along the route, and children, among others, will be interested in closely examining the stream.

5. For the security of people who are using the path lighting may be appropriate. Lighting of the paths would extend their usefulness to walkers and cyclists in evening hours and in fall and winter.

6. Crosswalks may be needed in several locations. Near the Dilboy Park baseball diamonds, a fence opening and curb ramp have been provided that appear designed to help people cross Alewife Brook Parkway. The addition of a crosswalk in this location would be appropriate. Other crosswalks should be examined to cross Alewife Brook Parkway at Massachusetts Avenue, at Matignon Road, at Powder House Boulevard (two curb ramps), and at Broadway. For continuity of the path network, a Mystic Valley Parkway crosswalk should be considered at the north end of this project.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to provide comments on the ENF. Please let us know if you have any questions or need further detail.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Robert Sloane
Senior Planner

Cc Dan Driscoll, DCR Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner