Tag: comment letter

Call for public input in the Cape Cod Bridge Replacement process

Call for public input in the Cape Cod Bridge Replacement process

Bob Sloane, who calls the Cape home for much of the summer, recently published an opinion piece in the Cape Cod Times describing the replacement of the Cape Cod bridges as a “big, expensive once-in-a-lifetime event.” For those of you who know Bob’s commitment to the Allston multi-modal project, these adjectives sound eerily familiar. Read about Bob’s latest call for public input here.

WalkBoston Comments on the South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan

WalkBoston Comments on the South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan

July 24, 2020 | WalkBoston Comments on the South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan

Brian P. Golden, Director Boston Planning & Development Agency
Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets
Councilor Wu, Chair Planning, Development and Transportation
Councilor Flynn, District 2

WalkBoston appreciates the opportunity to comment on the plan and are glad to see that a broad set of options are under consideration. We also are glad that a diversity of perspectives is represented by the four criteria used: Expand, Rely, Respect and Equalize.

We offer the following comments and look forward to hearing from you with responses to our comments and the opportunity to comment again as the plan is advanced.

  1. We are pleased that Improving Pedestrian Connections has emerged as one of the top candidates for short term implementation and agree that this strategy will serve many people and improve transit access and use for a broad range of users and locations.
  2. After reviewing the options for short term strategies that are now under consideration, we believe that an evaluation that gives greater weight to Equalize as a value would better serve the needs of the District and of Boston as a whole.

The strategies with the highest Equalize ratings are:

  • Expand Off-Peak Transit Service 100 points
  • Dedicated Transit Corridors 70 points
  • North Station – South Station – South Boston Seaport Direct Bus or Shuttle Service 61 points
  • Bus or Shuttle connection from Nubian Square to South Boston Seaport Link via Broadway 60 points
  • Bus or Shuttle connection from Central Square to South Boston Seaport via LMA and Nubian Square 58 points

While we are pleased that Expanding Off-Peak Transit Service has been flagged as one of the top strategies, we are concerned that Extend Private and Consolidated Shuttles on A St to Broadway has also been given a top rating as this is the ONLY strategy among all of those evaluated that received a negative rating for Equalize, and that it actually increases travel time for many transit users.

We believe that the Bus or Shuttle connection from Nubian Square to South Boston Seaport Link via Broadway or the Bus or Shuttle connection from Central Square to South Boston Seaport via LMA and Nubian Square (# 2 and 3 in overall ratings) should be included as one of the strategies to be advanced. These two options also directly serve some of Boston’s neighborhoods with the greatest number and density of people of color.

  1. There seems to be a disconnect between this BPDA Plan and the work of the Public Works Department on the Northern Avenue Bridge. As WalkBoston and a number of our fellow advocates have commented, we strongly disagree with the plan to allow shuttle buses to use a new Northern Avenue Bridge because it will negatively impact people walking and biking on the bridge, will require that the bridge be very large and expensive, and because it provides very little benefit to shuttle users.

None of the numerous bus service improvements suggested and reviewed in the South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan (short or long term) are shown to be using a future Northern Avenue Bridge. The bridge itself is called out as a strategy, but it is not incorporated into any of the other strategies – all of the routes that cross the Fort Point Channel are shown using the Summer Street or Congress Street Bridges. We urge the Public Works Department to look again at its proposal and eliminate the use of the bridge for shuttle buses.

WalkBoston looks forward to working with you as this plan progresses.

Joint comment letter regarding Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

Joint comment letter regarding Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

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

July 10, 2020

Dear Mr. Jeff Parenti and DCR staff,

Thank you for hosting another meeting concerning the Arborway Parkway Improvements Project We are glad that DCR is prioritizing this project and dedicating time and money to implementing short-term improvements and embarking on a rapid “long-term” process to dramatically improve the way the Arborway functions for vulnerable road users, especially in Murray Circle and improve park access for all.

In addition to the comments we provided in December 2019 and this spring, we propose the following suggestions to the short-term improvements and overall planning process from the meeting on June 24:

1) Changes to the proposed short-term improvements

We are pleased to see an aggressive timeline to have a design by the start of 2021 and construction to begin in 2021 — don’t let up! However, we are concerned about short-term bike accommodations not being implemented this year. We want to be sure this opportunity is used to create a safe, connected route to and through the Emerald Necklace Parks. As stated in our previous letter last December, short-term improvements should calm traffic and reduce crashes while also encouraging greater usage by people walking and biking. Toward that end, we reiterate our request for short-term improvements to include a lane removal on the carriage roads between Murray and Kelley Circles to accommodate a physically separated bike lane in the reclaimed space. We also remain concerned about the lack of a plan to improve safety for people biking through Murray Circle. Murray Circle is a critical gap in the network, and is plagued by crashes that impact safety of all road users.

2) Concern About CTPS Modeling Projections

We are concerned that this project is planning to accommodate an increase in vehicular traffic despite a 2019 study showing a decrease in daily traffic volumes since 2014, and despite Boston and Massachusetts’ goals to shift mode share away from personal vehicles.

In last month’s meeting about this project, DCR cited a CTPS study showing a slight increase in morning traffic. However, that same study found a decrease in evening traffic. As a result, we are deeply skeptical of the CTPS model projecting an increase in overall volume from 2020-2030. We would like to remind you that traffic models have again and again overestimated future volume. In one notable example, in 2018 CTPS projected that inbound traffic on the Longfellow Bridge would double from pre-construction levels once the bridge fully reopened that year; in reality, traffic volumes fell by almost 30% during the morning rush hour relative to 2008. The projection for outbound traffic was even further off-base. CTPS estimated a morning rush of 2,121 vehicles — nearly five times more than the actual peak of 442 measured in September 2018. We also would like to remind you that we must build for the future we want to see! Designing this road to accommodate more traffic will only create more induced demand for driving at a time when that’s the last thing needed on Boston’s already congested roadways.

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 set; as a State agency who has custody and control of the roadways, DCR must be a critical partner in meeting these goals.

3) 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 and for you to stick to the promised dates and timelines. 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 — which can be planned in a way to allow for safe social distancing — 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.

4) 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.

5) Other overall comments

We are glad to see one of the goals of this project 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. Protected or physically separated bike lanes have been shown to improve safety for not only people who bike, but for all road users. A 2019 study by researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of New Mexico found protected bike lanes reduced injury risk to cyclists by 90%, while reducing fatal crashes overall by 44%. Moreover, countless studies have found that a majority of Americans are interested in biking, yet the primary reason why people don’t bike is the fear of being hit by a car. To create a truly “comfortable” bike route that encourages many more people to ride bikes, you must implement protected/separated bike lanes.

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

Becca Wolfson Boston Cyclists Union
Ambar Johnson, LivableStreets Alliance
Brendan Kearney, WalkBoston

Testimony as prepared for City of Boston City Council Budget Hearing on Public Works and Transportation

Testimony as prepared for City of Boston City Council Budget Hearing on Public Works and Transportation

Testimony as prepared for City of Boston City Council Budget Hearing on Public Works and Transportation, May 7, 2020 conducted via Zoom.

Thank you for the chance to speak today. My name is Brendan Kearney, and I’m the Deputy Director of WalkBoston. 

Earlier this week, MassDOT reported that the rate of fatalities on Massachusetts roadways doubled in April: with 50% less traffic on the road, 28 individuals died in crashes, compared with the month of April 2019 when there were 27 deaths on roadways in the state. This highlights why the safety projects identified for funding here are important. 

The BTD staff expansion over the last two budget cycles is now showing dividends: Many projects those team members started on are moving to implementation. There is a need to keep working to make our streets safer for people walking; safety projects in the public works and transportation budget are moving us in the right direction.

I wanted to highlight a few things from the budget & Transportation Priorities overview:

  • 1st: Great to see Tremont Street has construction dollars in the coming year.
  • 2nd: Very glad to hear that “$2 million for a Safety Intervention Program on Neighborhood Streets, which will help us evaluate and act on all resident 311 safety requests” is part of the budget. It would be great for more clarification around this, and how it will be equitably implemented similar to sidewalk repairs in the Walkable Streets Program. This could be a way for spot improvements like speed humps at dangerous intersections or on streets that may not be a good fit or eligible for the Neighborhood Slow Streets Program. 
  • 3rd: Thank you for continued work toward accessibility for all, with “Newly expanded pedestrian ramp plan that doubles number of ramps installed” & adding an ADA Coordinator to Public Works. 
  • 4th: We’re hopeful on the item “$150,000 to improve the Pedestrian Signal Retiming Program in order to retime more of our most dangerous intersections in a more equitable manner.” This could be a step in the right direction of the GoBoston2030 goal of pedestrian-prioritized signals, especially good to hear about the goal of POLICY changes. 
  • Finally, echoing Eliza and Louisa about the Northern Ave Bridge: WalkBoston, LivableStreets, and the Boston Cyclists Union asked last night that the City commit to a bridge design that is only open to pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency vehicles. That was not reflected in last night’s meeting. We are asking City Council not to approve the Northern Ave Bridge project in the budget until this commitment has been made. The scale of funding for the safety projects I just mentioned throughout the city pale in comparison to the estimated dollars for the current iteration of this proposed bridge.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

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?


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!


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
email: ]

More Context + Reading on the Allston I-90 Project