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Tag: dcr

Comments on 24 Ericsson Street Development (Neponset Wharf)

Comments on 24 Ericsson Street Development (Neponset Wharf)

September 29, 2017

Tim Czerwienski
Boston Planning and Development Agency
One City Hall, Ninth Floor
Boston, MA 02201

RE: WalkBoston comments on 24 Ericsson Street development (Neponset Wharf)

Dear Tim:

WalkBoston appreciates the opportunity to comment on the proposed Neponset Wharf development at 24 Ericsson Street in the Port Norfolk neighborhood of Dorchester, Boston. This project has the potential to advance walkable community goals by promoting active outdoor uses and enhancing pedestrian access to the waterfront. At the same time the project site remains highly inaccessible without a motor vehicle, which raises broader concerns about pedestrian safety and connectivity. Significant Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and mitigation measures would be necessary to address these issues.

The project proponent’s goals of creating two acres of new landscaped outdoor space on the site, including 28,000 square feet of continuous publicly accessible Harborwalk, will significantly enhance the local public realm, while also promoting active living and outdoor recreation. We are intrigued by the proponent’s consideration of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge to connect the project site with Tenean Beach. While such a bridge would certainly improve public access to the Harborwalk, we have also heard resident concerns about the bridge’s potential impacts on the local ecology and its potential to put excess demand on the availability of parking for Tenean Beach if users of the new development use the public parking lot park at the Beach.

Relatedly, the proponent has stated their intention to “provide pedestrian and bicycle transportation infrastructure that is consistent with Boston Transportation Department’s Complete Streets guidelines.” Creating streets, sidewalks and paths that accommodate road users of all abilities and travel modes is critical to developing more livable and walkable communities, so WalkBoston is pleased to see a commitment to these issues reflected in the project’s Environmental Notification Form. However actually implementing these concepts in a heavily car-dependent neighborhood and project site means that significant challenges must be addressed.

High proportion and number of motor vehicle trips: Given poor transit access and limited street connectivity to the Port Norfolk neighborhood and the proposed Neponset Wharf site, the proponent estimates that only five percent of trips generated by the project will be bicycle and walking trips. The remaining 95 percent of project-generated trips will be in motor vehicles, for a total of 1,440 new vehicular trips on an average weekday. To accommodate this traffic, the proponent has proposed 185 parking spaces on the project site. We are concerned that the number of trips and the number of parking spaces do not seem to be aligned, as these figures would suggest nearly eight trips per day per parking space. This suggests a need to more fully explore appropriate transportation options for the development of this site.

In addition, the increased volume of motor vehicles this project would generate in Port Norfolk will increase risks to people walking and biking on the neighborhood’s narrow streets and sidewalks. The project proponent has stated their intention to develop a TDM plan for the project in the forthcoming Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). This plan should include a full accounting of how proposed TDM measures would reduce the overall number of motor vehicle trips and increase the overall percentage of trips using walking, biking and transit modes.

Neighborhood access and pedestrian safety: Redfield Street, Tenean Street/Conley Street, and Woodworth Street/Walnut Street are the primary routes for motor vehicles to enter and exit the Port Norfolk neighborhood. The proposed project will significantly increase the number of motor vehicles traveling these streets, so the proponent should explore ways to implement traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures along these streets as mitigation. Given that much of this increased traffic will come from Neponset Circle/Morrissey Boulevard, the intersections of Redfield, Walnut, Conley and Tenean Streets at these locations should also be assessed for safety improvements in coordination with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

Site access and pedestrian safety: The project site abuts Ericsson Street, with a one-way entry to the site to be aligned with Port Norfolk Street and a one-way exit from the site to be aligned with Lawley Street. The proposed project will significantly increase the number of motor vehicles traveling these streets as well, so the proponent should also explore ways to implement traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures along these streets as further mitigation.

The proponent should also clarify how pedestrians will safely enter and exit the project site at Port Norfolk and Lawley Streets. The current site access/egress points at these locations lack sidewalks and are relatively narrow for motor vehicles even in the absence of sidewalks. These access/egress points also abut existing buildings, so while the proponent “envision[s] multiple accessible sidewalks along the entry points into the site,” it is unclear where the space for safe pedestrian accommodations will actually come from. Increasing the number of motor vehicles traveling through this area will pose additional safety risks to pedestrians, so the proponent should explore plans for mitigation here as well.

Thank you for considering these issues and please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Comments on Jamaica Pond: Parkman and Perkins Access Enhancement

Comments on Jamaica Pond: Parkman and Perkins Access Enhancement

May 8, 2017

Commissioner Leo Roy
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Office of Public Outreach
251 Causeway Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

Re: Jamaica Pond: Parkman and Perkins Access Enhancements

Dear Commissioner Roy:

WalkBoston is very pleased that Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is designing safe pedestrian access to Jamaica Pond from adjacent developments and the larger communities of Brookline and Boston.

WalkBoston Supports the Proposed Signalized Crossings
As we stated at the Public Hearing on April 11, 2017 WalkBoston strongly supports a signalized crossing at Cabot Estates where residents have for years been pressing for a safe crossing to the pond.

We are pleased that the crossing at Parkman/Perkins will also be signalized and we echo what many others at the hearing said that there is no need for a slip lane at this intersection, and we request that the pork chop be eliminated. Typically, cars turn quickly at slip lanes, ignoring pedestrians.

WalkBoston Recommendations

  1. Shorten traffic signal cycles to 70 seconds
    Traffic signal cycle length will be 110 seconds according to the public presentation speakers. Pedestrians will not wait up to two minutes to cross a roadway. With this fact in mind, WalkBoston as well as other advocates such as Livable Streets is asking the City of Boston and state agencies such as DCR to develop shorter signal cycles of no more than 70 seconds. We are assuming from the presentation that the traffic signals are exclusive, but we would like to have the plans so we can review them.
  2. Undertake additional traffic calming measures
    Traffic often speeds on the Pond’s perimeter because there are few intersection streets. To slow traffic WalkBoston recommends lane widths be reduced from 11’ to 10’.
  3. Utilize white reflectorized thermoplastic crosswalk markings of a ladder design.
    The state standard of two parallel lines does not provide enough visual warning to motorists.
  4. Enhance pedestrian access to the west side of Jamaica Pond.
    The optional path is a pedestrian desire line and if constructed would addresses drainage and erosion.

WalkBoston is very pleased that these long-­awaited access improvements are coming to fruition. We look forward to working with DCR on this and other vital pedestrian safety access projects throughout Greater Boston.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman                           Dorothea Hass
Executive Director                         Sr. Project Manager

Comments on the DCR’s Arborway Proposals

Comments on the DCR’s Arborway Proposals

November 4, 2015

Mass DCR
Office of Public Outreach
251 Causeway Street
Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

WalkBoston Comments on the DCR’s Arborway Proposals

First of all, WalkBoston commends the DCR on its work to correct the serious safety issues to be found in the present Arborway configuration. We thoroughly endorse the project’s approach of channeling regional traffic to the center lanes and making the “carriageways” function as local, neighborhood streets with improved bicycle facilities and upgraded safety features and connections. We believe the proposed re-­design of the Arborway in Jamaica Plain will indeed improve bicycle and vehicular safety.

CONCERNS ABOUT PEDESTRIAN SAFETY AND CONVENIENCE
However, we are not convinced that the changes, taken together, will actually improve safety for people on foot. We are concerned about the multiple pedestrian crosswalks at the Kelley and Murray new roundabouts, which we fear may not improve safety and will certainly make walking across the Arborway much less convenient. Before WalkBoston can support this project we need to sit down with DCR and their consultants, Toole Design, to discuss the safety and increased walking trip times to traverse the roundabouts.

The crosswalks appear to have multiplied since the February 2015 design. For example, slip lanes to facilitate through traffic have been added at both Kelly and Murray Circles. At the new Kelly roundabout pedestrians wishing to walk from Pond Street to Orchard Street will need to traverse nine crosswalks in order to cross from one side of the Arborway to the other. Currently, pedestrians can do this in a simple, two-­step crossing with a pedestrian-­actuated traffic signal. (See below for more detailed discussion of this issue.)

Moreover, many transportation engineers question the safety of multiple lane roundabouts: “Multiple-­lane roundabouts lose many of the safety benefits of single-­lane roundabouts. In general, multi-­lane roundabouts are not recommended in areas with high levels of pedestrian and bicycle activity.” (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning 2015) We at WalkBoston are unfamiliar with any multi-­lane roundabouts in eastern Massachusetts that are truly pedestrian friendly and would interested to know of any examples DCR or its consultants have found in the course of the planning process. WalkBoston appreciates that the re-­design calls for raised crosswalks, which will function as a traffic calming measure, WalkBoston would nevertheless like DCR to consider the efficacy of a signalized, mid-­block crosswalk between Kelly and Murray Circles, similar to the mid-­block crosswalk near the Arnold Arboretum main entrance.

To make the same journey today, pedestrians from Moss Hill have two signalized crosswalks. One can hardly call the proposed configuration an improvement for someone on foot.

HISTORIC STONE WALL
WalkBoston supports retention of the historic stone wall, however, if it is necessary to break through the wall in order to make a crucial connection to improve vehicular Kelley circulation, and then re-­build the new wall ends to look like the historic wall ends, WalkBoston would support this — and it’s likely that most local residents would, too. We do not think it is necessary to protect the stone walls in their entirety. The February plan for Kelley had a more logical connection from the roundabout to Orchard Street.

PARKING ON THE CARRIAGEWAYS
At the October public meeting, someone suggested that the new proposed parking lane on the carriageways be eliminated to enhance the parkway appearance. A surprising number of people agreed with this. WalkBoston strongly supports local parking on the carriageways for the following reasons:
Residents along the Arborway are entitled to have street parking for guests as residents on adjacent streets do.
Parking along the carriageways is a benefit for overflow, event parking for Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum. The demand was clearly present. Even though Kelley Circle is posted as “no parking”, visitors have habitually parked there when visiting Jamaica Pond.

 

CONCLUSION

WalkBoston remains deeply concerned about pedestrian safety and accessibility along the Arborway. The proposed DCR redesign is a major step forward for bicycle and vehicle safety and convenience. It is not as large a step forward for pedestrian safety and may be a step backward in terms of pedestrian friendliness and convenience. We believe very strongly that the Arborway should be designed to be a fully multimodal roadway with vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic treated on an equal basis. The parks and ponds in the area are a unique attraction and the area’s residential and commercial neighborhoods are well suited to walking and biking. The Arborway should support and promote both forms of transportation in order to prevent ever-­‐increasing vehicular traffic volumes and to meet the recreational and health goals of the Emerald Necklace of which it is an integral part.

 

Sincerely,

Dorothea Hass, WalkBoston                                 Don Eunson, Jamaica Plain resident

cc: Julie Crockford, President
Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

Coalition For Anderson Bridge Underpass Letter to Secretary Pollack

Coalition For Anderson Bridge Underpass Letter to Secretary Pollack

COALITION FOR ANDERSON BRIDGE UNDERPASS
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.

Sincerely,

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

Comment Letter: Improving parkways in Emerald Necklace

Comment Letter: Improving parkways in Emerald Necklace

March 2, 2015

Department of Conservation and Recreation
Office of Public Outreach
251 Causeway Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

Re: Improving parkways in the Emerald Necklace

Dear Commissioner Murray:

WalkBoston thanks you for launching the public process to improve safety and connections for people walking, bicycling and driving the section of the Emerald Necklace parkways between Jamaica Pond and the future Casey Arborway (under construction). As well as creating new, separated paths for pedestrians and cyclists, proposed improvements include replacing Murray and Kelley Circles with new, safer “roundabouts.”

We understand that your office was initially responding to concerns of the bicycling community. However, your staff and consultants, Toole Design Group, quickly saw that the challenges facing cyclists and pedestrians in this area cannot be fixed without also solving the existing problems of confusing and dangerous vehicle circulation and chronic speeding. So, the scope and objectives were expanded to all users.

WalkBoston is happy to support this comprehensive package of improvements. The safety of people who are walking or bicycling is absolutely dependent on changing the traffic circles. We feel that the proposed plan would both provide good vehicle access and accomplish the following benefits for walkers:
Improve connections between Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum for all park visitors, whether on foot or on bike
Improve safety and reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths Improve quality of life for local residents
Make the movements through the roundabouts clear and understandable and prevent speeding

All of us are aware that the Arborway is unsafe. Between 2008 and 2012 alone there were 135 crashes on the Arborway, with more than 20 injuries. Murray Circle is especially dangerous because of high vehicle speeds and lack of clarity for drivers. Cars frequently jockey for openings and exits. No one wants to walk or bicycle across the roads that feed into Murray Circle!

Proposals
The process that DCR used to develop a set of “starter ideas” included both a public meeting and several meetings with local elected officials and pedestrian and bicycle advocates. The ideas presented by Toole Design at a public meeting on February 5 are impressive and promising.

  • Separate pedestrian sidewalks and bike paths would be provided in the area
  • The “circles” would be rebuilt as smaller, modern roundabouts that
    o    clarify vehicular movements
    o    make it difficult to exceed the “design speed” of 15‐20 mph
    o    provide multiple safe crosswalks (for people traveling in all directions)
  • Provide raised crosswalks to improve pedestrian visibility and slow traffic
  • Preserve the historic roads between today’s traffic circles including the allées of oak trees
  • Reduce the number of traffic signals that interrupt vehicle flow (reduced from 5 to 1)

What is strikingly innovative about the current “starter ideas” is the concept of replacing the enormous Murray Circle two smaller roundabouts, side by side, to sort and channel traffic clearly and efficiently – while providing multiple crossings for bikes and pedestrians.

In addition the plan provides local residents on both sides of the Arborway with multiple ways to access their homes, while using the outer roadways for local access only, making them safer for all users.

Naturally, a lot of details need to be worked out in the next phase of design (e.g. How will blind persons navigate the roundabouts? How will snow removal be handled?), but the big ideas are solid. Your agency’s intention is to make this area more livable for residents and park visitors alike while continuing to accommodate vehicles.

Sincerely,
Wendy Landman
Executive Director