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Tag: Commonwealth Ave

Bridge Project Management, Project File No. 606475 (Allston / I-90 Massachusetts Turnpike Interchange Improvement Project)

Bridge Project Management, Project File No. 606475 (Allston / I-90 Massachusetts Turnpike Interchange Improvement Project)

April 24, 2014

Patricia Leavenworth, P.E., Chief Engineer
MassDOT
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116

ATTN: Bridge Project Management, Project File No. 606475
Delivery via email to dot.feedback.highway@state.ma.us

Dear Ms. Leavenworth,

WalkBoston is pleased to provide comments on the Allston I-90, Massachusetts Turnpike Interchange Improvement Project and the April 10, 2014 public meeting. We are also pleased to have been invited to participate in the project advisory group.

We write to note the issues that we hope will be addressed by the project, some of them to be included in long-range planning and others to be included in project design – but all of them will contribute to the successful reclamation of a large and important piece of the City that has for too long been disregarded as a part of the surrounding community.

1. Project scope – The scope of the project needs to extend far enough along the Turnpike to look at bigger picture auto circulation, including access between the Longwood Medical Area, the Fenway, Back Bay and the Turnpike and relief of traffic at the Bowker Overpass and on Storrow Drive. Addressing these major vehicular demands will potentially provide significant opportunities to enhance the regionally important open space, walking, running and bicycling assets along the Charles River.

2. Pedestrian access throughout the project – Scoping of the project should include guidelines for designs to facilitate pedestrian travel through the project and into surrounding neighborhoods.

3. Air rights development – Intensive use of the air rights above the rail yards and the Turnpike can be foreseen as part of any long-range plan. Ramps and access roads, the mainline of the Turnpike and the commuter rail yards should be designed to accommodate development of the air rights.

4. Land uses in the newly available land – The needs of the community and adjacent institutions should guide development, rather than the needs of traffic to and from the Turnpike. Traffic needs should not limit the explorations of the potential uses of the land.

5. Affordable housing for residents of Allston – Housing goals should be outlined early to permit inclusion in all aspects of the study.

6. Minimize the impacts of regional traffic on neighborhood streets – The alignment and connections of turnpike on and off-ramps should be designed to minimize cut through traffic and to protect the integrity of residential areas.

7. Rail Yards – The design for reconstruction of the rail yards should minimize the number of required tracks (possibly looking at other locations to provide some of the necessary rail yards) and provide footprints for the supporting columns that enable air rights development above them.

8. Commuter rail station – The design of a new West Station should be advanced to a point where its location and likely dimensions are known, to allow for planning its access to proceed as part of this project. Station access should be provided for both sides of the rail tracks between North Allston and Commonwealth Avenue.

9. Reconnecting Packard’s Corner area and North Allston – An impenetrable wall of rail tracks and the Turnpike will separate the two parts of this neighborhood forever, unless provision for crossing is planned from the beginning, either with air rights or with bridges, or both.

10. Transit access – Bus, commuter rail and other modes of public transportation should be considered as part of the overall design at a very early date.

11. Turnpike main line – The lanes in the new portion of the Turnpike between Agganis Way and Cambridge St. should be separated sufficiently to allow for the construction of supporting columns for new uses on air rights above the Turnpike.

12. Turnpike access ramps – Access ramps should be designed in spare and efficient ways that afford the maximum use of the land for non-transportation purposes. Short tunnels should not be excluded from consideration.

13. Storrow Drive Alignment – A long-range plan for the area should include relocation of a portion of Soldiers Field Road away from the river. All access to and from the Turnpike and Cambridge Street should take this into consideration and not preclude potential options for connections.

14. A new park along the river – Relocation of Storrow Drive away from the river allows expansion of the adjacent parkland, which is now very narrow and constrained.

15. Connecting the area with the Charles River – Alternatives should be examined for connections between development in this area and the river for both pedestrians and bicycles.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input to the project.

Best regards,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Bob Sloane
Senior Project Manager

Commonwealth Avenue Phase 3 Landscape Improvements Comment Letter

Commonwealth Avenue Phase 3 Landscape Improvements Comment Letter

July 15, 2008

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

RE: Environmental Notification Form (ENF)
Commonwealth Avenue Phase 3 Landscape Improvements
Newton, MA
MEPA # 14269

Dear Mr. Bowles:

We have reviewed the ENF for the Commonwealth Avenue Phase 3 Landscape Improvements in Newton. We are pleased that walking and pedestrian facilities are major organizing features of the development. We are commenting because details of this worthy project may need further analysis to serve the needs of pedestrians safely and comfortably.

WalkBoston is the Commonwealth’s leading advocate for pedestrians and safe walking. We work throughout the state encouraging walking, advocating for pedestrian improvements and working for design improvements. We have extensive experience helping residents and local government with pedestrian issues, safe routes to school, and safer street crossings.

In the case of the Commonwealth Avenue project, we commend the emphasis on rationalized pedestrian crossings of both the boulevard and the carriageway.

We noted that proposed crossings of the carriageway call for granite pavers of various sizes. Granite pavers have a relatively long history of use in Massachusetts, but do not provide a crosswalk surface that is a benefit for all types of pedestrians. These pavers raise specific questions:

1. Granite pavers cause difficulties for wheeled vehicles of any kind, such as wheelchairs and baby carriages because of the rough surface and cracks between pavers. For others, the surface and the cracks between pavers pose difficulties for, among others, disabled persons or those wearing high-heeled shoes.

2. Over time, granite pavers settle or break under vehicular traffic, frequently in an irregular, causing an unintended roughness in surface and specific hazards where pavers go missing or are destroyed.

3. Maintenance of the pavers is an issue that occurs regularly, Despite offers of continued care, budgetary difficulties and agency staffing problems can confound the best intentions over time. Without proper maintenance, granite pavers can rapidly become hazards for walkers.

4. A somewhat separate issue is pedestrian safety in the face of oncoming traffic. Granite pavers are not always visible to motorists in the same way the painted crosswalks are. The reduced visibility of the pavers may require supplementary signing and pavement painting. With many if not all of the curbs to be reset along this portion of Commonwealth Avenue, pedestrian needs should be included. For example, many of the existing curb radii at intersections are being increased to provide for more smooth passage of vehicles. If traffic moves faster as a result, pedestrians may be in danger at these intersections. In some instances this also results in numerous islands for pedestrians to negotiate along circuitous paths across a single street.

Signage for the project seems to avoid mention of the presence of pedestrians and the need for motorists to respect the rights of people on foot. The few “Pedestrian” signs are to be removed and destroyed, as are the few “Children” signs and the “Speed Limit 30” signs – all of which are designed to provide for pedestrian safety. It is difficult to believe that there are no plans to replace the pedestrian warning signs on this 21st century project.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the Commonwealth Avenue project. Please feel free to contact us if further questions arise.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Boston: Commonwealth Avenue Mall Sculptures Map

Boston: Commonwealth Avenue Mall Sculptures Map

Commonwealth Avenue Sculptures Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue finds its 19th century inspiration in the boulevards of Europe. The centerpiece of the elegant Back Bay, the avenue is 200 feet wide, with generous carriageways and sidewalks. The gracious central walkway, called the Mall, is enlivened with sculpture and landscaping. Installation of statuary began in 1865 and continues to this day. Because nearly all of the sculptures face east toward the Public Garden, this walk is devised to allow you to go west and approach each frontally, as sculptors meant them to be seen.

Click for “Boston Commonwealth Ave Mall Sculptures Walking Map” PDF


Click for “WalkBoston’s Boston Commonwealth Avenue’s Sculpture Maps” on Google Maps