Tag: charles river conservancy

See you soon to walk the Charles River path’s “throat” to help #UnchokeTheThroat

See you soon to walk the Charles River path’s “throat” to help #UnchokeTheThroat

This evening we’ll be talking & walking the Charles River path with Charles River Conservancy, Charles River Watershed Association, and the Esplanade Association to push for changes to the path and riverbank. Remember to be aware of & courteous to other people using the path when we’re out walking – it is an important transportation and recreation corridor by people on foot and on bikes!

To learn more about the narrow section of the Charles River path, “The Throat,” please take a look at our project page for Allston I-90 / #UnchokeTheThroat.

Letter to Review Team on Restoration of the River Edge

Letter to Review Team on Restoration of the River Edge

From: WalkBoston, Charles River Conservancy, Charles River Watershed Association

To: MassDOT – officials, staff, consultants Review Team on the I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement Project

Date: August 15, 2018

Re: Charles River – Restoration of the River Edge

On behalf of three organizations committed to the protection of the Charles River and its parklands, public access and pathways, and environmental health we jointly request that MassDOT fulfill its responsibilities to this invaluable resource by analyzing and developing options for the ecological restoration of the severely degraded and eroded riverbank in the I-90 Interchange Project area – from the BU Bridge to the River Street Bridge. This Project directly impacts the Charles River Basin , its parkland, ecology, water quality, and overall resiliency; dealing with those impacts is integral to the Project.

A study by MassDOT in advance of the FEIR should include re-establishment of a more natural edge, bank restoration, stormwater management, and increased floodplain connectivity and storage for resiliency. It should explore at least one alternative that creates better habitat and provides flood storage through the use of fill material in the river to accomplish these objectives. We ask that between now and when the FEIR is produced, a detailed analysis of alternatives, carried out in a collaborative manner, be developed so that results can be incorporated in the FEIR.

The DEIR did not adequately consider the need to restore the river bank, improve the park, and improve water quality. The DEIR has chiefly dealt with these impacts by trying to avoid them on the theory that permitting for the Project would be more difficult if river edge improvements are included. We are convinced that the contrary is true: a serious examination of these improvements would enlist substantial support from organizations, municipalities, and agencies committed to restoring environmental quality in this area – support that will be important to obtaining required approvals.

Restoration of this area requires attention to a number of issues and several important state and federal requirements, including:

1. Protect the river bank from further degradation and restore aquatic and riparian habitat. Much of the existing bank is degraded and eroding, eliminating fish habitat. The Charles is an important fish run for alewives, blueback herring and American shad, migratory fish that return to the river each year to spawn.

2. Provide parkland and improve safe walking and biking conditions as part of multi-modal improvement called for in MassDOT’s Project “purpose and need” statement and under Article 97.

3. Reduce stormwater runoff discharging to the river via overland flows and outfalls, including the 13 outfalls along Soldiers Field Road in the Throat Area. Both MassDOT and DCR have regulatory obligations to comply with phosphorus limits established in the state’s Lower Charles River Basin Nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load (2007).

4. Provide flood resilience, control and storage capacity for precipitation-based inland flooding within the context of current and expected climate change impacts.

5. Develop landscape strategies and designs that provide Section 4(f) mitigation. Removing invasive species, dead trees and replanting with native vegetation, in addition to incorporating green infrastructure, should be integral to the study.

6. Plan for the riverfront parkland, which is a water-dependent use under Chapter 91.

7. Meet historic requirements for the Charles River Reservation in the Charles River Basin Historic District included in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and Massachusetts Historical Commission review.

8. Comply with the Article 97 no net loss policy that requires replacement of parkland that is to be taken by the Project.

One example of how an alternatives analysis could address these issues is the environmental assessment and recommendations prepared for the North Shore Riverfront Ecosystem Restoration Project in Pittsburgh, PA. It provides extensive river edge improvements, including a natural bank, new pathways, landscaped parklands, connected floodplain, and wetlands. It was developed jointly by local environmental organizations and local, state and federal agencies, including the US Army Corps of Engineers. (https://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Portals/72/docs/ProjectReviewPlans/N%20Shore%20Riverfront%20DP R%20MSC%20Approved%20for%20Release.pdf?ver=20160524161651743)

We are committed to working cooperatively with you in this process in order to evaluate the options and to achieve results in an expedited and cost-effective manner to restore and enhance this area of the Charles River and the Basin parklands.

We look forward to your response.

Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston
Laura Jasinski, Executive Director, Charles River Conservancy
Margaret VanDusen, Deputy Director and General Counsel, Charles River Watershed Association

Please join WalkBoston, the Charles River Conservancy and the Charles River Watershed Association at a “Throat” Walk, September 12, 5:30 PM. We will meet at “BU Beach” behind the Marsh Chapel.

Images from Environmental Assessment of North Shore Riverfront, Pittsburgh


Event: Charles River “Throat” Site Walk

Event: Charles River “Throat” Site Walk

RSVP now and save the date – September 12, 2018 5:30pm – join WalkBoston, the Charles River Conservancy, Charles River Watershed Association, and the Esplanade Association for a site walk of the Charles River path’s “Throat” area. We’ll meet at ‘BU Beach’ (grassy area on Boston University Campus near Marsh Chapel) in front of the pedestrian overpass to the Charles River path, before crossing over to the river side and gathering in an accessible location for very brief presentations. From there, we’ll walk to the first overlook to experience the narrow path and un-parklike existing conditions along the path and view the eroded river bank, before returning to the gathering area for questions and next steps.

This will give you a better understanding of why this narrow stretch has an outsized role in MassDOT’s Allston I-90 Interchange Project — and how it could help #UnchokeTheThroat in the years to come.

Getting to the meet up location by transit:

Green Line ‘B’ Branch – BU Central stop – the roundtrip walk from this location is 1 mile.
#57/57A Bus – Commonwealth Ave @ Granby stop

PLEASE NOTE: The pedestrian bridge from BU Beach to the Charles River Path includes stairs; accessible access to the path is at the Mass Ave Bridge (about 3/4 mile away). The #1 Bus has the closest transit stop to this entrance (~1 block away, Mass Ave @ Beacon stop).

More details to be added: RSVP below on Eventbrite or on Facebook

Allston/Brighton Mobility Study Open House later that evening!

After the walk, make sure to attend the BPDA’s Allston Brighton Mobility Study Kick-off Open House (6-8PM, Jackson Mann Gymnasium, 40 Armington St, Allston, MA 02134). The purpose of the study is to identify measures to improve mobility for all modes – transit, bikes, pedestrians, and cars. MBTA and MassDOT staff will also be on hand to explain the Better Bus Study and the Allston Transit Improvement Study for Allston/Brighton and discuss other ongoing initiatives.

For more background on the “Unchoke The Throat” campaign and the Allston I-90 effort at large, see our project page!

One minute, one slide: Unchoke The Throat

One minute, one slide: Unchoke The Throat

Below is a “One Minute, One Slide” presentation shared by a member of the WalkBoston staff.
Text provided is as presented at this year’s annual event on March 29, 2018.

Bob Sloane

Next month it will be four years that WalkBoston has worked with others on the I-90 project to make sure it welcomes and serves pedestrians in a 21st century way.

In recent 3 months WalkBoston has focused on the throat section of the project, where pedestrians are treated to a narrow path next to moving traffic on Soldiers Field Road – a path that is currently duplicated in all three of the options for the highway reconstruction envisioned for the throat.  To develop a better plan, WalkBoston joined with the Charles River Conservancy and hired Sasaki to design possible approaches for paths along the river.

We called the effort “Unchoke the Throat” to point out that the current plans provide only narrow unpleasant places to walk along our historic river, duplicating the narrow unpleasant places to walk that now exist.

With Sasaki’s help, we were able to project a better future for the throat – one that involves looking closely at the river as a potential location for paths in this narrow corridor where so much land is taken by highways that only 8’ remains for a single narrow path where people walk and bike in clouds of air pollution right next to a highway.

Sasaki came up with two options – a boardwalk out over the river or a fill in the shallows of the river where much more space could be provided for paths with buffers to keep them at a more healthful distance from the highway.

Then our team came up with an “#UnchokeTheThroat” video promoting these ideas and sent out over our wide Twitter network. It was timed to impact people’s letter comments written about the 90 project as it was going through the environmental review process.

Want to learn more? See the project page & an upcoming event on April 10th below.

I-90/Allston Interchange Project

Event: Unchoking the Charles River Throat

Coalition For Anderson Bridge Underpass Letter to Secretary Pollack

Coalition For Anderson Bridge Underpass Letter to Secretary Pollack

c/o Charles River Conservancy, 4 Brattle Street (Suite 309), Cambridge, MA 02138

April 9, 2015

Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Transportation
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA

Dear Secretary Pollack,

We are writing to let you know of our enthusiasm and support for the work underway at MassDOT to develop 25% design plans for an underpass on the Boston side of the Charles River under the Anderson Memorial Bridge, to be used by pedestrians, runners, cyclists and others. This underpass, through the bridge abutment, would add significantly to the Paul Dudley White pathway system by eliminating the need for many users to cross the busy surface intersection of the ramps from Soldiers’ Field Road and JFK/North Harvard Street.

The underpass would be an extremely important addition to the excellent surface changes now under construction at the Anderson Bridge. This combination of improving the movements – both cross-river (already underway) and along-the-river (with the addition of an underpass) – will increase safety, enhance the environment, and provide improved transportation service not only to the users of the underpass, but also to the vehicles, pedestrians and others who use the surface crossings, including the Harvard community on both sides. We believe that the evolving design is being developed in a manner that respects the historic nature of the bridge.

We strongly oppose the alternative for this project (being developed to comply with legal review as part of the current design process) that would create a boardwalk that would be located under one of the current bridge arches and occupy part of the river used by the boating community.

To maximize cost-effectiveness and maintain the momentum for the underpass project initiated when your predecessor endorsed the project in July 2014, it is our hope that the design and permitting of the underpass can be completed in time to enable its construction as part of the ongoing activities at the bridge. Expediting design and permitting consistent with all legal requirements will be required to accomplish this objective.

As advocates for the project, we have been kept informed of the progress of design work by Gill Engineering under the direction and support of the Highway Administration. We look forward to the earliest possible public meeting where this design work can be described for wide public review and participation.

We also would like to offer to you, the Department and the Highway Administration our continuing, supportive involvement as this project moves forward.

This underpass will be a major step to enhance the Charles River Parklands, one of the Boston area’s major assets, for at least the next hundred years.


Katherine Blakeslee, Institute for Human-Centered Design
Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance
Jack Glassman, Boston Society of Architects, Historic Resources Committee
Ken Kruckemeyer, LivableStreets Alliance
Wendy Landman, Executive Director, Walk Boston
Galen Mook, Boston Cyclists Union
Jon Puz, Cambridge Running Club
Renata von Tscharner, President and Founder, Charles River Conservancy
Jack Wofford, mediator and arbitrator

cc: Thomas J. Tinlin, Highway Administrator, MassDOT Michael Trepanier, Project Manager, MassDOT