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Comments on the DEIR for The Boston Garden, MEPA #15052

Comments on the DEIR for The Boston Garden, MEPA #15052

November 8, 2013

Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
Attn: Alex Strysky
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

Commissioner Thomas Tinlin
Boston Transportation Department
One City Hall Plaza
Boston, MA 02201

RE: Comments on the DEIR for The Boston Garden, MEPA #15052

Dear Secretary Sullivan and Commissioner Tinlin:

WalkBoston has reviewed the DEIR for the Boston Garden project. The proposal will improve the second largest pedestrian, transit and commuter rail interchange locations in the city. From WalkBoston’s perspective, one of project’s key challenges is handling the many daily pedestrian trips generated by subway and commuter rail riders, on-site workers and residents, and the large crowds generated by the TD Garden Arena.

The design of the 2.8 acre site includes a large office building, a hotel and a substantial residential building, comprising 1,870,000 square feet of new structure. The basement and first two levels of the building are predominantly retail. A lower level garage expands the existing below-grade parking facility by 800 spaces, for a total of 2075 in the complex.

The magnitude and importance of pedestrian access has prompted a number of comments and questions about the ways in which the proposed plan meets the needs of walkers both to and within the site. It is very important to distinguish between the site design, which is under the control of the developer, and the design of Causeway Street, which is under the control of the City. We believe that these two components must be designed to work well together, and our comments address both areas because it is not possible to separate them from a pedestrian perspective. For that reason we have addressed our comment letter to both MEPA and the City of Boston Transportation Department.

CONFUSION ABOUT PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS OF CAUSEWAY STREET

The DEIR includes a design for Causeway Street that has been superseded because of the City’s receipt of a federal TIGER grant that will pay for the reconstruction of the street. As described to WalkBoston by several City staff members, the designs shown in the document are currently being modified by the City to incorporate cycle tracks instead of bicycle lanes and to possibly alter original alignments of lanes on the street. New designs will change the approved 25% design drawings for all pedestrian crossings on Causeway Street, and for vehicular accommodations on the street as well. The details of the proposed changes have not yet been shared, and WalkBoston will actively participate in review of the new design once it is  presented. Rather than provide comments on the current design we have focused this letter on suggestions about elements we would like to see in the new design.

MAJOR PEDESTRIAN ISSUES

1. Projected pedestrian volumes into and out of the site exceed vehicular volumes.
The number of people who currently enter the rail and arena adjacent to the site is impressive. Per the MBTA Blue Book, there are 26,763 weekday commuter rail boardings at North Station, and 16,702 weekday entries into the Green and Orange Lines. In addition many more people use the transit lines, streets and sidewalks when an event is scheduled in the 19,000 seat TD Garden. North Station is the 2nd busiest transit station in the MBTA system (exceeded only by South Station). Causeway Street carried 14,800 vehicles per day in 2009, according to MassDOT.

2. Pedestrian crossings of Causeway Street are one of the most important issues to be explored.

a. Canal Street is the major pedestrian approach to the site.
Reflecting the significant anticipated growth in transit and pedestrian trips, a new pedestrian entrance to both the rail station concourse and the TD Garden is planned for the location where pedestrians will cross Causeway Street from Canal Street. Historically Canal Street served as the pedestrian route to North Station from the Downtown financial and retail districts, and in the planned design it will regain that prominence (Fig. 1-14.)
Walking along Canal Street is fostered by wide sidewalks and by the street’s slow speed, narrow travel lanes, corner bulb-outs and traffic signal designs. Pedestrians are encouraged to follow a walking route along Congress Street from the financial district and up Canal Street to North Station.
Retail property uses along the frontage of Canal Street have also changed over time and it now includes many uses catering to people attending sports events including bars and restaurants with large outdoor seating areas.
The private and public expenditures on Canal Street have emphasized it as the primary walking route, thus leaving Friend, Portland and Haverhill Streets much less used by walkers.

b. The design of the Canal Street entrance emphasizes its importance
“Champions Way,” is the grand entrance into the project from Causeway Street – directly aligned with Canal Street. It is approximately 50’ x 200’ (10,000 square feet), sized to handle large numbers of people accessing the site and lined with retail facilities to attract walkers. (Nothing of this nature is proposed for either the Friend Street or Haverhill Street approaches.)
About half of Champions Way will be open to the sky, and at the far end, near the rail concourse, is a ‘mixing bowl,’ where the entrance is divided into three parts leading to the Commuter Rail Station, the second-floor TD Garden and the below grade North Station subway station.
Interestingly, the proposed Champions Way has roughly the same dimensions as the Channel Gardens/Promenade leading into New York’s Rockefeller Center. The New York example spreads out into wide sidewalks at either end of the Promenade; here, that would be somewhat comparable to the wide sidewalk along Causeway Street and the expanse of the rail station concourse at the opposite end of the entrance court.
Other local comparisons are also apt. The Canal Street entrance is about one-half the length and roughly the same width as Yawkey Way, used as a pedestrian street for access to the 40,000-seat Fenway Park. South Station’s main entrance has roughly 6,500 square feet divided into two walkways and a row of escalators and small shops. The South Station vestibule also connects with relatively large open areas on both ends, a triangle of sidewalk in front of the station is about 9,300 square feet and a plaza for pedestrians on the opposite side of the street is an additional 17,500 square feet.

c. The new entrance to the site is more than a replacement of existing site entrances.
Walkers currently enter the TD Garden and rail station concourse via east doors facing the sidewalk along Legends Way and west doors facing the O’Neill Building path. This layout is reflected in current pedestrian access patterns with existing peak hour pedestrian traffic heaviest where Friend Street crosses Causeway Street, as commuters walk toward the western doors. The same pattern does not exist at the intersection of Haverhill and Causeway Streets, perhaps because walkers heading to the east entrance use the MBTA’s underground passage beneath Haverhill Street. Once the proposed new development is in place, the importance of the east and west entrances will diminish significantly and the new entrance at Canal Street will be the focus.

3. Projections of pedestrian activity on parallel streets do not seem to reflect the current design. Causeway Street intersects with four streets in front of the project site – Portland, Friend, Canal and Haverhill, and the distance between the streets is quite narrow. The intersections of Portland, Friend and Canal are three-way, and Haverhill St. is a four-way intersection. All have at least one crosswalk, and there are signals at Haverhill and Portland Streets. A brief analysis of each street is useful to explore their role in the pedestrian network leading to North Station. As noted above, Canal Street is the primary pedestrian route and the other streets have narrower sidewalks, fewer retail outlets catering to Garden event patrons, and more parking lots that reduce the quality of the pedestrian experience.

  • Portland Street, slightly west of the project site, serves relatively few pedestrians. Most walkers on this street may be heading toward the O’Neill Federal Building at the corner of Causeway and Merrimac Streets, and some may be heading toward the west entrance to the TD Garden and the rail station concourse, although the walking route is not direct.
  • Friend Street provided a more direct route to the west entrance of the TD Garden/Rail Station, but it crosses Causeway Street at a location that does not align with the O’Neill Building pathway, and the existing diagonal path across the project site will disappear with the new development.
  • Haverhill Street provides access to the Orange Line/Green Line station, and both sides of this 2-block street have been recently developed with large apartment buildings. However, many loading zones for the new buildings and vehicular entrances make the street less pedestrian-friendly than Canal Street.

4. Pedestrian volume projections may need re-examination.
Existing and projected pedestrian volumes for the four street crossings are provided in the document. Existing pedestrian volumes are highest in the weekday AM peak hour at Portland Street which would seem to stem from Commuter Rail passengers walking from North Station, exiting via the west door and walking toward downtown.
In future projections for the 2017 Phase I development, all pedestrian movements grow, but the largest growth is projected for Friend and Haverhill Sts. which lead only to the east and west entrances to the building. Canal Street traffic grows somewhat, but Haverhill Street projections for the AM peak hour grow to be 10 times larger than the existing pedestrian  movement at that intersection. It is unclear if these volumes reflect a route using Haverhill Street’s underpass beneath Causeway St. and the sidewalk along Legends’ Way leading to the east doors of the rail station and the TD Garden. It seems unlikely that such high volumes could cross Causeway St. safely at grade.
For the 2028 full-build, pedestrian volumes grow again, but the pattern is difficult to understand: pedestrian numbers increase substantially at both Friend and Haverhill Sts., but change very little for Canal Street, despite the design’s clear emphasis on the new entrance focused on the traditional walking path from Downtown to North Station.
By contrast, vehicular traffic through the four intersections changes very little from existing levels, declines slightly for the 2017 Phase I, and rises again for the 2028 full-build.
We are puzzled by the projections and request that the proponent describe the volumes and their projected locations in detail.

5. The traffic signal program for Causeway Street needs re-examination.
If this development is to focus its principal entrance on Canal Street, and pedestrian traffic at that location is to increase, the intersection of Causeway and Canal Streets must be signalized for pedestrian safety. The DEIR deliberately fosters jaywalking at both Canal and Friend Streets: a logic of unsignalized intersections is stated in the report: “The unsignalized crossings of Causeway Street at both Friend Street and Canal Street operate at a pedestrian LOS F during the peak hours independent of the full build-out of the Project. Again, under actual operating conditions, pedestrians cross these locations in a platoon when a gap in traffic is afforded in at least one direction on Causeway Street thereby resulting in less pedestrian delay than predicted by the analysis model.”(DEIR page ES-7; pages 3-2 & 3-4; table ES-4)

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS
WalkBoston is excited about the pedestrian service this project will provide. To make the project more appealing and safe for walkers, we suggest the following steps that would more clearly recognize the important role of pedestrians in accessing this site:

THE CAUSEWAY STREET FRONTAGE OF THE SITE

1. Propose a hierarchy of pedestrian crossings on Causeway Street. Canal Street will be the most important pedestrian crossing of Causeway Street (on ground level) based on this design. Haverhill Street is the most important pedestrian crossing of Causeway Street (that passes underground) based on this design. Friend and Portland Sts. will be relatively lowvolume pedestrian crossings.
2. Think of Canal and Haverhill Sts. (and possibly Friend St. as one intersection to aid in finding pedestrian solutions. The block front distance between Haverhill Street and Canal Street is manageably short (about 120 feet). Friend St. is a bit further away from Canal St.
3. Signalize Canal/Haverhill Street at Causeway Street as a single coordinated traffic intersection. Portland St. could also readily be signalized. Friend St. does not necessarily need a traffic signal, if alternative pedestrian crossing locations can be encouraged and if sidewalk and street crossing designs discourage pedestrians from crossing at this location.
4. Build a level pedestrian crossing table for this intersection to slow traffic from both directions. The table should extend a total of at least 200’ from the MBTA headhouse area at Haverhill and Causeway Sts. to the west side of the intersection of Canal and Causeway Sts.
5. Try to attach Friend Street to this raised crossing, recognizing there will be some difficulties. Canal, Friend and Haverhill Sts. constitute the majority of pedestrian crossings 5 on Causeway St. and thus may be considered as a single unified crossing location. Friend Street might be included in the raised table, but issues arise. First, extending the platform to Friend Street doubles its length, potentially leading to the use of the street for storage of vehicles at signals that may interfere with large-volume pedestrian crossings. Second, an additional signal at Friend St. so close to the Canal/Haverhill signals complicates the vehicular signal patterns for the whole street. Third, much of the proposed truck service traffic into the site is located at a door between Friend and Canal Streets, perhaps causing conflicts with surface gradients of the proposed raised platform and adding turning movements into a pedestrian facility. Entrances and exits into this truck service area should take place only from westbound Causeway Street – thus, no left turns for eastbound access.
6. Permit no left turns to or from Causeway Street. Both Causeway Street westbound and Haverhill Street northbound can become vehicular entrances into the site’s parking garage, but exiting traffic from this ramp should only be permitted to turn left to find its way to the Central Artery or Keaney Square. Traffic exiting here and wanting to turn right should be encouraged to use the existing exit ramps at the rear of the building, where Nashua Street provides direct access to Storrow Drive, Route 28, and the entrances to the Central Artery bridge and tunnels.
7. Design the cycle track proposed for Causeway St. to minimize impacts on pedestrians. The alignment of cycle tracks should not interfere with pedestrian movement. Cycle tracks could be located in space where landscaping is proposed. Cycle tracks should be located together so that pedestrians know where to expect bicycles. Pedestrians should be informed of the existence of the cycle tracks through a combination of eye-level signs and painted warnings on the pavement. Bicycle signals and signs in both directions should be installed to warn of pedestrian crossings. Bicycles waiting for signals and thus stored on the raised pedestrian platform should be minimized. Curbing along the cycle track should disappear at the raised pedestrian platform at Canal/Haverhill Sts. to avoid mishaps and to comply with ADA regulations.
8. Design lanes for movement on Causeway St. carefully. Preliminary designs indicate four 10.5’ vehicular lanes, a 5’ cycle track in each direction (possibly combined), a median strip of 6’ located between the two cycle tracks, and restrictions on existing turning movements at both Canal and Friend Streets.

WITHIN THE SITE

1. Reflect by design the number of pedestrian movements anticipated in Champions Way.
Where Champions Way meets the entrances to the TD Garden and the rail station concourse, pedestrians will be passing through between:
•    The Green and Orange Line subway stations and the Commuter Rail Station
•    The Commuter Rail Station and TD Boston Garden
•    The Green and Orange Line subway stations and TD Boston Garden
•    Canal St. and the Commuter Rail Station
•    Canal St. and TD Boston Garden
We are concerned about the dimensions of this complex entrance and especially the ‘mixing bowl’ near the entrance to the TD Garden and suggest a detailed analysis to explain its ability to fully, conveniently and safely handle the many pedestrian demands to be placed on it.
2. Reconsider the dimensions of the MBTA underground passageway between the ‘mixing bowl’ and the subway station to maximize pedestrian convenience, safety and service. It  has a 90-degree turn at one location, along with an inconsistent width progressing through the site. Additional width may be essential at the 90-degree turn. The queue of pedestrians at the bottom of the escalators should have adequate space for waiting.
3. Add a stairway inside the ‘mixing bowl’ to avoid overcrowding of the escalator and elevators. A stairway would also offer an opportunity for people to exercise during their on-site walk from the subway to the Garden or the commuter rail concourse.
4. Provide generous space for pedestrian circulation in and around the first floor at Champions Way.
The DEIR design has two escalators, two stairways (leading upward only) and two elevators (leading downward only.) Space is provided on both sides for people walking through between Canal Street and the rail station concourse. It is important that these facilities and spaces are matched closely to anticipated pedestrian traffic. It may also be important to look forward to future pedestrian traffic to be certain that the spaces and facilities are able to handle projected demand. For example, escalator redundancy may be a consideration to assure that pedestrian traffic moves without impediments.

BEHIND THE SITE

1. Commit to financial aid for the construction of the Charles River Southbank
pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the MBTA tracks.
This proposal has been on the agenda for a considerable time. It has been proposed to complete the various pedestrian/bicycle projects along the Charles River in the vicinity of North Station. It will benefit all of the users on the South Bank of the river, and will aid non-motorized traffic to reach the site of this project.

WAYFINDING
1. Signs and other indications of routings for pedestrians should be provided to aid walkers and to direct pedestrian traffic to certain entry points.

We appreciate your consideration of our comments and look forward to your responses to them. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Robert Sloane                                          Wendy Landman
Senior Project Manager                         Executive Director

Comments on the ENF for The Boston Garden project

Comments on the ENF for The Boston Garden project

June 11, 2013

Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
Attn: Deirdre Buckley
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

RE: Comments on the ENF for The Boston Garden project, MEPA #15052

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

WalkBoston has reviewed the ENF for The Boston Garden project. We understand that the building project will be constructed on 2.8 acres of land fronting on Causeway Street and include:

WalkBoston is supportive of this development and considers it a critical location that requires close examination of pedestrian circulation, as it encompasses major pedestrian movements between regionally important city and suburban transit facilities and a major sports facility. In addition to pedestrians already using the site, the proposal will need to accommodate the movements of the new workers, guests and residents brought into the new buildings on the site as the project components are completed.

Our comments focus on pedestrian volumes to the site, circulation inside the grouping of new buildings and along the perimeter of the site, and the potential for improvements to the Charles River walkway behind North Station.

Pedestrian volumes to and from the site
Many residents of the region already pass through this site daily and for special events. The site is the location of commuter rail connections to the northern half of the metropolitan area, two major subway stations and the TD Boston Garden, home of the Bruins and Celtics professional sports teams. These pedestrian volumes need detailing and evaluation. Our review of the data led us to the following numbers:

In the morning, the combined total for arrivals by commuter rail coupled with patrons exiting the Green and Orange line subway station is thus a number that is around 43,000 2 pedestrians using the stations for transportation access or interconnections in and around the site. A similar number may exist for the afternoon use of the site.

These numbers have not been updated and are of course prior to the construction of office, hotel or residence buildings that will bring additional people to the site. In addition, the existence of the 19,600-seat TD Garden arena above the commuter rail station can create circulation difficulties when people attending events overlap with people leaving the city after work. With over 200 events each year at the TD Garden and limited on-site parking for event attendees, there are many opportunities for overlapping movements of large numbers of people moving into and through the site. It may be possible to have over 60,000 people on the site in the afternoon hours prior to a major event.

As preparatory steps for addressing environmental concerns surrounding this project, it will be important to closely examine the volumes of pedestrian traffic that move to and from the site each working day, and on days with special events in the TD Garden. Flows of pedestrian traffic that are deserving of special attention include movements between:

  •  the Green and Orange Line subway stations and the Commuter Rail Station
  • the Commuter Rail Station and TD Boston Garden
  • the Green and Orange Line subway stations and TD Boston Garden
  • Canal St. (used by downtown workers on foot) and the Commuter Rail Station
  • Canal St. and TD Boston Garden • Canal St. and the Green and Orange Line subway stations

These pedestrian movements deserve to be counted and evaluated for trends that indicate potential future use of transportation facilities at this site. Pedestrians going to or from the new on-site buildings will also be moving between:

  • the commuter rail station and the new buildings on site
  • the subway stations and the new buildings on site
  • Canal St. and the new buildings on site

These potential movements should be projected and evaluated in conjunction with the pedestrian traffic already using the site.

Pedestrian circulation through the buildings on the site
Pedestrians currently move into and out of the TD Garden building by using the east and west entrances on Legends Way and on the O’Neill Building pedestrian way. Plans show the intention of moving much of the pedestrian access between the subway stations and the TD Garden/North Station building below ground level. This will provide protection from weather conditions for walkers and is conceptually a major improvement for all.

The brief current outline of the plan calls for a passageway built under the large office tower to handle all pedestrian movements and connections on the site, located on the first basement level and connecting (in an undefined manner) between the subway stations and the proposed major pedestrian passage, to be called Champions Row. Escalators and elevators will be needed to make the connection fully ADA accessible and to speed the large volumes of pedestrians to their destinations.

It is entirely possible that this connection can be designed to handle the 43,000 users of transportation facilities on-site very well. However, it is equally possible that the volume of pedestrian traffic will be such as to thwart the good intentions of the proponent of this project. There are several possibilities for additional capacity to handle pedestrians in this important location under the office tower:

1. Addition of an escalator- and elevator-served access point leading into the present east entrance to the TD Garden/commuter rail station building (very much like the existing head house, but with a direct, covered connection into the building.)
2. A passageway between the subway station and the TD Garden/commuter rail station building that connects in several potential ways (all underground):
•     As a diagonal passageway between the MBTA undercrossing of Causeway Street and the proposed main stem of the project – Champion’s Row. This passageway should be sufficiently wide to handle the considerable traffic using it twice a day.
•     A passageway under the office tower could support small commercial/retail establishments that can quickly serve people passing through to make their commutes or to attend a large event.
•     A passageway could envisioned as a large food court or produce market serving all pedestrians passing through as well as those who will be working in or nearby after the new structures are built.
•     All proposed principal passageways, including Champions Row, should be unobstructed by escalators or elevators that may impede pedestrian movements.

There may be a desire to connect other buildings or uses planned for the site into this major pedestrian facility under the tower of the office building. If so, a major connection across Champions Row leading into the underground pedestrian facility would be needed to provide access for all of these pedestrian connections and services while also providing access for the four levels of retail attractions that are anticipated for the site

. Based solely on its need to serve so many access points for pedestrians on the site, Champions Row could conceivably become a much more significant and grander element of the site. Champions Row has been located to be on a direct axis between Canal Street and the entrance to the commuter rail station/TD Garden building. Like the major axis of an enclosed shopping center, it also provides direct access to the surrounding transportation facilities and the TD Garden. Alternatively, it could become a part of an imposing railroad station with retail facilities surrounding it and even below it (like South Station, perhaps, grand but laid out as a small Grand Central Station). In either event, the space could become a local landmark and meeting place for residents, commuters and event attendees.

Pedestrian access on the perimeter of the site
Because the new facilities back up to the TD Garden, three sides remain to be served by sidewalks – along Causeway Street, Legends Way and the O’Neill Building pedestrian way.

1.   Causeway Street
Wide sidewalks are planned in keeping with the city’s Crossroads Project plans for Causeway Street. Street furniture and trees will be added in keeping with this plan. On the site, the façades of the new buildings will be lined up with the O’Neill Building to present a uniform appearance along the streets. A number of small and large retail facilities will have access to and from the sidewalks, and access to the three large buildings planned for the site will also be focused on the Causeway Street sidewalk. The sidewalk will not be interrupted by access ramps into the on-site garage, as these ramps are being located at the edge of the site adjacent to the Central Artery, and will supplement the existing ramps that are located at the rear of the TD Garden Building.

However, the diagrams show a loading platform near the proposed hotel building that will interfere with pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk significantly. This loading platform is a potential hazard for pedestrians on the Causeway Street sidewalk, particularly if service trucks back into the site from the street.

To be fully supportive and attractive to pedestrians, the new buildings could be designed to attract and provide interest for passers-by, using strategies such as:
•    Maximize the number of retail outlets facing the sidewalk by using narrow frontages for business facilities
•    Introduce sidewalk cafes, restaurants or bars
•    Provide canopies along the building frontage to protect walkers
•    Avoid intimidating pedestrians by the overwhelming scale of proposed buildings. The proposed façade for the Causeway side of the site is about three blocks long, and has been broadly designed to be a uniform building of four stories topped by towers. The four-story building could be intimidating for pedestrians – it is a very large and long building. Its façade could be articulated to show connections with the streets of the area, as is currently diagrammed for the three large towers planned for the site that line up precisely with Canal Street and Friend Street. The four floors of the building complex that are designed for retail could also reflect these breaks while retaining the alignment with the O’Neill Building, either physically or by using varied building materials.

2. The pedestrian passageway at the O’Neill Bldg.
This walkway should be treated qualitatively as handsomely as the Causeway Street frontage. It has become a major entrance for pedestrians and will continue to provide major access to the commuter rail station and the TD Garden. It could also become more interesting for walkers, if cafes or other retail establishments were added. It has the advantage of the statue of Bobby Orr which is a dramatic addition of great interest to pedestrians using the site. A canopy for the length of the walkway would be of great service to the pedestrians using the walkway for access to the TD Garden/commuter rail building.

3. Legends Way
This street will be of limited use for pedestrians, except to provide access to the east entrance into the TD Garden/commuter rail station building. Access for users of MBTA’s The Ride will be retained. Opportunities for retail uses appear very limited, but should be considered. This is another location where a canopy could be of considerable use to passengers waiting for The Ride.

4. The Riverfront walkway along the Charles
At the rear of the commuter rail station, the tracks serving the terminal narrow down to enter two bascule bridges across the Charles River. At this location, Central Artery plans included a bridge on the North Bank crossing over the tracks, a bridge on the South Bank also over the tracks, and a bridge that would be cantilevered or attached to a bascule bridge. The North Bank Bridge is now completed and in operation. The bascule bridge walkway is in design. The South Bank Bridge remains to be designed and constructed.

As a positive improvement to the environment of this project and as mitigation for some of the anticipated impacts of its construction, the proponent and the MBTA have begun discussions of constructing the South Bank Bridge. This positive development is very exciting, as it would complete the major interconnection of Charles River walkways on both banks, along with connections into the downtown Boston Harborwalk and the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Construction of the South Bank Bridge will involve examination of the potential building methods within a narrowly defined space on both sides of the tracks. On the east side of the tracks a sidewalk follows the boundary of the MBTA trackage at the river’s edge to a dead end at the bascule bridge. This sidewalk may become an approach ramp for the South Bank Bridge. However, there are difficulties in constructing the bridge on the west side of the tracks that are likely to require significant work in examining possibilities. The rewards of designing and constructing this bridge will have regional impact because of its connection to metropolitan-scale pedestrian facilities.

We appreciate your consideration of our comments and look forward to your responses to them. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Robert Sloane
Senior Project Manager

Boston: Connect Historic Boston Walking Map

Boston: Connect Historic Boston Walking Map

Over more than 300 years, Downtown Boston and nearby neighborhoods have been the site of many important historical events. Many buildings remain to illustrate that history. In this small area of about one square mile, distances are so short that many find it easy to cross the entire area on foot. There are also buses and subways which crisscross the area and can help you get to where you want to go. To find a special walking route, use this map to plan a visit to specific nationally-recognized historic buildings and sites, and a walk along streets of great character and charm. On your walk you will find a unique city with national and local history visible everywhere. Walk more – see more!

Click for “Connect Historic Boston Walking Map” PDF


Click for “Walk Boston’s Connect Historic Boston Walking map” on Google Maps

Boston: City Routes and Downtown Map

Boston: City Routes and Downtown Map

Walking in Boston is easy and fun, and the more you walk, the better it is for you. Every hour of brisk walking can add two hours to your life. And brisk walking means bring your sneakers to match the times on this map! Many popular destinations are no more than a 10-minute walk away – and many are closer. You’ll be surprised how short the walks are – from subway stops, commuter rail stations and major thoroughfares to all points of interest in Back Bay, Downtown, Waterfront and South Boston Seaport.

Click for “Boston City Routes and Downtown Walking Map” PDF
Comments on Longfellow Bridge Project file No. 604361

Comments on Longfellow Bridge Project file No. 604361

March 21, 2012

Pamela S. Stephenson, Division Administrator (Att: Damaris Santiago)
Federal Highway Administration, 55 Broadway, 10th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142

RE: Longfellow Bridge, Project File No. 604361

Dear Pamela Stephenson,

We would like to take this opportunity to provide comments on the Longfellow bridge design (Project No. 604361) as presented in the Environmental Assessment and the MassDOT presentation at the March 1 public meeting.

We appreciate MassDOT’s steps forward on Longfellow Bridge Reconstruction. The Environmental Assessment includes many significant improvements:

  • Thinking about how people use the bridge, and not just focusing on the structure
  • Adding improved pedestrian connections to both sides of the river, including a new bridge to the Esplanade
  • Acknowledging the reduced width of the bridge at the Boston pinch points
  • Involving the public in the process to date; the creation of the Longfellow Task Force
  • Making significant changes on the outbound side toward Cambridge; especially the one travel lane, wide sidewalk and buffered bicycle lane

We are particularly pleased with the “Purpose and Need” as described in the Longfellow Bridge Restoration’s Environmental Assessment (p.11) which includes these goals:

  • “Provide a flexible layout of user space over the bridge deck to best accommodate future changes in volume and user types”
  • “Provide adequate space for pedestrians to pass each other on the walkways”
  • “Provide bicycle facilities that address the needs of experienced and less experienced cyclists”

We ask that you try to include the following changes to the plan:
THE INBOUND DESIGN
MassDOT’s proposed location and dimensions of the sidewalk and bike lane, particularly at the pinch points, do not meet the project goals. Below are the dimensions of the MassDOT proposed cross section on the upstream side (inbound to Boston).

MassDOT “Preferred Alternative” Cross-Sections

The narrow sidewalk and the bike lane adjacent to fast-moving traffic do not significantly improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, and lack the flexibility to meet existing and potential foot and bicycle traffic on the bridge. This cross-section element does not adequately meet the stated ‘Purpose and Need.”

We are united in our belief that there is a different solution that can provide a proper sidewalk and bike lane in both the short- and long-range. It requires a different location for the crash-barrier.

The long-term solution we have often stated provides for a single vehicle lane and a buffered bicycle lane that can also be used as a breakdown/emergency vehicle lane, a crash-barrier, and a pedestrian promenade (with benches!). This vision—supported by most participants in the Task Force—is illustrated in a rendering developed by WalkBoston:

A SHORT-TERM STRATEGY THAT WILL ACHIEVE THIS LONG-TERM VISION:
To achieve this long-term vision for the future, the MassDOT preferred alternative should be changed with a short-term plan that would make this world-class future possible.

The crash barrier should be located ADJACENT to the 2 travel lanes. The current MassDOT Preferred Alternative places the crash-barrier between the bike lane and the sidewalk. Our short-term plan puts the crash-barrier between the cars and the bicycles. The resulting bicycle track will be safer for all, especially less experienced cyclists, and yields a more generous sidewalk for the considerable pedestrian traffic. Bikes and pedestrians can be separated by a buffer—striping or flexible bollards.

The short-term plan we suggest has the following cross-section:

The long-term vision has the following cross section (as shown in the rendering):

The single most important suggested change is the placement of the crash-barrier. This results in a protected space which would accommodate both bicyclists and pedestrians in the short term, and for the future it retains the potential to become the generous promenade envisioned in the above rendering. This can all be accomplished within the existing time frame for project approvals and construction. The purpose and need would be at that point be satisfied.

Thank you for considering our suggestions. If you have any further questions/comments, please contact Jackie Douglas of LivableStreets Alliance who will serve as our point of contact. Jackie can be reached at 617.621.1746 and jackie@livablestreets.info.

Thank You,
Jacqueline Douglas, Director, LivableStreets Alliance

On behalf of:
Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston
David Watson, Executive Director, MassBike
Pete Stidman, Executive Director, Boston Cyclists Union
Renata Von Tscharner, Executive Director, Charles River Conservancy
Christopher Hart, Director of Urban & Transit Projects, Institute for Human Centered Design
Rafael Mares, Staff Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation
Andre Leroux, Executive Director, MA Smart Growth Alliance

CC:
Thomas F. Broderick, P.E., Acting Chief Engineer, MassDOT Highway Division, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116, Attention: Kevin Walsh, Project File No. 604361.

City of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino
City of Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin
City of Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy
Massachusetts Department of Conversation and Recreation Commission Ed Lambert State Representative Marty Walz