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Tag: intersection

Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road Intersection Comment Letter

Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road Intersection Comment Letter

September 9, 2016

Principal Lina DeJesus
Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
445 Ashley Boulevard
New Bedford, MA 02745

Dear Principal DeJesus:

As part of the ongoing efforts to improve the safety of students walking to the Lincoln School, Kim Ferreira asked that WalkBoston evaluate the Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road intersection and recommend strategies to improve pedestrian safety at this intersection and along the Ashley Boulevard corridor.

On Thursday, September 1, I observed school dismissal from the Lincoln School and walked the Ashley Boulevard corridor from the school to the Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road intersection. While I saw some students walking from the school south down Ashley Boulevard, the majority of students were met by their parents or caregivers on the school grounds and then walked to their cars parked on the neighboring streets. Given that this was the first day of school, dismissal patterns may not be indicative of a typical day.

Below is a summary of my observations and short and long term recommendations for pedestrian safety improvements.

Ashley Boulevard and Nash Road Intersection

Description:
The Ashley Boulevard and Nash Road intersection has crosswalks and pedestrian countdown traffic signals on all four approaches. The traffic signals are push button-activated and on an exclusive phase, which means vehicular traffic is stopped in all directions when the WALK light is illuminated. At least two of the countdown signals are not working properly due to blown bulbs or some other mechanical failure. The walk time given to pedestrians is sufficient to cross the street before the DON’T WALK signal is fully illuminated. “No Right Turn on Red” signs are posted on all four corners. Parallel parking is allowed on both sides of the street on both Ashley Boulevard and Nash Road.

Nash Road connects Pleasant Street to Belleville Avenue across New Bedford, and is the only complete east-west connection between Tarkin Hill Road and Sawyer Street. Given this link, the road may carry higher volumes of traffic (SRPEDD or the City of New Bedford may have traffic volume data).

Traffic speeds were not excessive during the observed timeframe, although we have heard that traffic speeds are high along this corridor during off peak times. Driving behavior during the on peak time included accelerating to beat the red light and exhibiting frustration due to slow-moving traffic.

Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road intersection is signalized and has crosswalks across all approaches.
Pedestrian countdown signals are push button-activated, but two are not functioning properly.

 

Recommendations

Short-term:

  • Repair pedestrian countdown signals
  • Enforce no parking ordinances near the Ashley/Nash intersection and crosswalks
  • Enhance the crosswalk markings to a ladder crosswalk design
  • Enforce speed limits and/or place temporary speed trailer near the intersection to record traffic speeds and encourage slower driving

Long-term:

  • Install curb bump outs to shorten pedestrian crossing distances and give pedestrians greater visibility beyond parked cars. Bump outs have the added benefit of preventing drivers from parking too close to the intersection and the crosswalks. Bump outs should be designed similar to those proposed in the MA Safe Routes to School infrastructure project between the Ashley and Lincoln Schools.
  • Consider changing the exclusive pedestrian phase to a concurrent phase with a leading pedestrian interval. A concurrent phase gives walkers a WALK light when vehicular traffic is moving parallel to them. A leading pedestrian interval gives walkers the WALK light for at least 4 seconds before traffic moving parallel to them is given the green light. This added time gives pedestrians a chance to get into the crosswalk so that drivers can see them and yield to them.

School Dismissal

Dismissal was a typical demonstration of the controlled chaos that exists between drivers and walkers on elementary school grounds. According to the Lincoln School’s arrival and dismissal routines described in the student handbook, students in grades K-2 are dismissed on the Glennon Street side of the school. Students in grades 3-5 are dismissed on the Query Street side at the edge of the playfield. Parents/caregivers are expected to park and walk over to pick up their child.

Cars were parked on all the neighborhood streets around the Lincoln School and on both sides of Ashley Boulevard. Parents/care givers walk to the school, retrieve their children and walk back to their cars or to their homes. Both Query Street and Glennon Street are one-way streets with traffic flowing east toward Ashley Boulevard.

I did not observe dismissal along Glennon Street, but there were students at the school’s entrance waiting to be picked up by cars entering the school grounds from Ashley Boulevard. This location was one of the two most congested locations during dismissal. Drivers formed two lanes; some drivers parked along the curb and got out to meet their child. All of this traffic exited the school grounds onto Glennon Street. Glennon Street was backed up due to traffic coming from the east and high volumes of traffic on Ashley Boulevard.

Dismissal at the building entrance where drivers formed two lanes. Some parked along the curb to retrieve their child.

The second most congested location was at the Query Street dismissal location. Drivers park along the north side of the street and cross over through the traffic to reach the dismissal location. Walking between cars is dangerous and was done frequently with and without children. There is an extra pull-off lane along the playfield for drivers to park and pick up their child. Once in this pull-off lane it was difficult for drivers to get out to allow another person to pull into the space. Traffic from Query Street is also trying to get onto or across Ashley Boulevard.

Cars backed up on Query Street waiting to turn onto Ashley Boulevard.

There were no crossing guards on Ashley Boulevard either at the intersection of Query and Ashley, or at Glennon Street and Ashley Boulevard. Neither intersection is signalized. Given the high traffic volumes on Ashley Boulevard during school dismissal, people walk between cars (usually in the crosswalks) to cross the street. This behavior is dangerous particularly for children who are not as easily seen as adults.

Walkers navigating the traffic on Ashley Boulevard.

Short-term Recommendation:

  • Place crossing guards at the Query/Ashley and Glennon/Ashley intersections. Ideally, the crossing guards or traffic police could help direct traffic as well as cross the children/parents safely

Without more information on typical dismissal issues and policies, and additional days to observe dismissal, any additional recommendations made would be most likely be inaccurate or unhelpful. If you would like us to review dismissal procedures and make additional recommendations, then we can come back and meet with school staff and observe additional dismissals.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have about the information presented here. Feel free to give me a call at (617) 367-9255 or email me at sbeuttell@walkboston.org.

Thank you. I wish you all the best for the 2016-2017 Academic Year.

Stacey Beuttell
WalkBoston, Program Director

Comments on DCR Back Bay Fens Crosswalk Improvements

Comments on DCR Back Bay Fens Crosswalk Improvements

March 12, 2014

Commissioner Jack Murray
Department of Conservation and Recreation
251 Causeway Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

Attn: Office of Public Outreach

Dear Commissioner Murray:

WalkBoston has reviewed the DCR’s Back Bay Fens Crosswalk Improvements presentation and attended the public meeting held earlier this month. We are very pleased that DCR will undertake improvements for pedestrian safety.

We offer several detailed comments on the intersection of the Fenway and Forsyth Way and the Fenway and the Fenway Service Road from Forsyth Way.

Comments on the options proposed for the intersection of the Fenway and Forsyth Way
• At this intersection, a raised crosswalk is by far the most attractive proposed improvement. Raised crosswalks never fail to slow traffic, and can be designed to have modest impacts on street drainage facilities. A raised crosswalk at this location would have the effect of slowing Fenway traffic through both of the Fenway intersections that
are to be improved.
• A clearly marked ‘stop’ line should be installed on the pavement far enough in advance of the crosswalk to allow motorists and pedestrians to see each other and pass safely through the crossing. This is very important to reduce the risk of a car in the right or left lane stopping for a pedestrian and a car in the adjacent lane continuing through the
crosswalk (the so called ‘double threat” situation).
• Warning signs alerting motorists that pedestrians and bicycles will be crossing should be added on either side of the roadway, together with arrows indicating the exact location of the crossings. The warning sign proposed for the median of the Fenway will also advise drivers of the precise location of the pedestrian crossing.
• In addition to the warning signs, we think the proposed pair of Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons attached to the warning signs on each side of the road is appropriate. They are highly visible and not easily ignored. A Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon is another option to warn drivers of pedestrian street crossings, but, as it would partially bridge the street with several signal heads, it would be intrusive in the green expanses of the Fenway and no more effective than the Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon.
• The new sidewalk that is proposed for the east side of the Fenway is important for pedestrian safety and should be included in all options.
• Tighter corner radii will help to slow turning vehicles as they exits the Fenway onto Forsyth Way. At a minimum, paint or bollards should be used to tighten the curve.

Possible significant change to the intersection of the Fenway and Forsyth Way
The design presented as Alternative 3 attempts to respond to the walking desire lines that exist at this intersection. However, the alignment of the crosswalk passing through the traffic island seems quite complex and unusually situated. We think it would be advisable to have a straighter alignment for this crosswalk, following the route pedestrians really want in heading for the bridge over the Muddy River inside the Fens.

A more far-reaching option for improving the crosswalk design would be to remove the short section of Forsyth Way that connects to the Fenway, and have cars making the Forsyth Way/Fenway connection use the Fenway Service Road. Closing this portion of Forsyth Way
retrieves both the traffic island and the street right-of-way as parkland, and greatly improves potential options for a crosswalk. This new parkland affords additional options to design a connection between the Fenway and the Southwest Corridor Park, as suggested by Professor Peter Furth. The short portion of Forsyth Way between the Fenway and the Fenway Service Road could become one-way away from the Fenway, and could both be narrowed and still include parking on both sides of the street. This modest change in the street system would add parkland, simplify pedestrian and vehicle travel and allow the creation of a safer “T” intersection.

Comments on the options proposed for the intersection of the Fenway and the Fenway Service Road
• For this intersection WalkBoston prefers Alternative 4, which includes two crosswalks on the Fenway. This alternative connects closely with the existing pedestrian paths on both sides of the Fenway and directly fits with observed pedestrian desire lines.
• A raised crosswalk at this location does not appear to be necessary if one is provided at the Forsyth Way intersection with the Fenway (which effectively slows traffic as it approaches the Fenway Service Road intersection).
• The intersection should be treated the same as the Forsyth Way intersection, with a ‘stop’ line to facilitate visibility of pedestrians, signs to warn drivers of the crossings on both sides of the intersection and in the median, and a pair of Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons attached to the warning signs on either side of the road.
• The proposed new sidewalk along the Fenway and the bump-outs for pedestrians at the intersection are welcome and very significant improvements included in the proposal for the intersection.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the design options. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with any questions and we would be happy to meet with you about our design suggestion.

Sincerely,

Robert Sloane
Senior Project Manager

CC:
Patrice Kish, DCR
Julie Crockford, Emerald Necklace Conservancy
Jessica Mortell, Toole Design

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Comments on Cambridge Discovery Park EOEA #13312 Final Environmental Impact Report

Comments on Cambridge Discovery Park EOEA #13312 Final Environmental Impact Report

November 7, 2005

Secretary Steve Pritchard
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs Attn: MEPA Office
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900 Boston, MA 02114

RE: Cambridge Discovery Park, EOEA #13312 Final Environmental Impact Report

Dear Secretary Pritchard,

We were pleased to review the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Cambridge Discovery Park. It is gratifying when a project proponent makes considerable effort to comply with EOEA’s certificate.

EOEA’s DEIR certificate called for identification of pedestrian sidewalks, footpaths and bicycle facilities for the proposed development. As shown in the plans provided in the FEIR, the proponent indicates that they will construct all of their off-site pedestrian improvements as part of Phase I of the project, thus making these facilities available to help set non-auto commuting patterns.

The Proponent has agreed to take on significant responsibilities for constructing pedestrian pathways in and near the site. Especially noteworthy is the commitment by the proponent to construct and maintain a path through DCR’s Alewife Reservation on land lying between the proponent’s project and Alewife Station. This path will be wide, well-lighted for pedestrian safety, and maintained in all weather by the proponent.

The proponent has also agreed to take responsibility for improvements to the intersection of the EB Route 2 off-ramp and the entrances to the MBTA’s Alewife Garage. This intersection is of critical importance to pedestrians because several pedestrian pathways – both existing and proposed – will intersect: the Minuteman Bicycle and Pedestrian Path, the new pedestrian path from the proponent’s site through DCR’s Reservation, and the proposed Fitchburg cut-off pathway from Belmont. All three of these routes currently lead pedestrians through an unsignalized intersection that has heavy peak-hour traffic adjacent to the MBTA station. The improvements to be provided by the proponent are a major step in making the intersection safe for pedestrian access to the MBTA Alewife Station.

We remain concerned about maintenance of the sidewalks from the proponent’s site to the Alewife MBTA Station via the Route 2 off-ramp. Although sidewalks exist and may be improved by the proponent, WalkBoston is concerned that this pedestrian route may not be adequately maintained because of the overlapping responsibilities of governmental organizations and the proponent’s position that future developments by abutting landowners should bear incremental or additional costs for maintenance of this walkway. The lack of existing development on abutting land should not relieve the proponent of responsibility for maintaining the sidewalk until such time that another developer is on the scene and an agreement for sharing responsibility is reached.

The DEIR Certificate called for the creation of a pedestrian access master plan that takes a longer-range look at the area and develops a future pedestrian path network. The FEIR does not include this long- range plan. We request that it be added, and that it include three elements that would improve pedestrian access this site:

  1. The proponent has agreed to make a contribution of $400,000 toward the design and construction of a footbridge (which would be constructed by others) over the Little River to the south bank multi- use paths. Since a plan for this footbridge is being actively pursued, it would be useful to know how paths from the proponent’s property would access it, even if the information must be tentative or diagrammatic. Possible locations for the bridge or paths are not shown on the maps.
  2. The existing footbridge over Route 2 is not included or discussed in the planning for the site, even though it is noted on FEIR maps. All of the FEIR pedestrian facility maps (Exhibits 5-8, 5-9, 5-10, and 5-11) show the existing footbridge over Route 2. In addition, one of the maps (Exhibit 5-13) shows a bus stop on the north side of Route 2 that will require connection via the footbridge to the site. We wonder whether there are other pedestrian connections to the footbridge that should also be shown on a long-term plan for the area, such as through Thorndike Field in Arlington; or paths connecting the footbridge over Route 2 with the Minute Man Bike/Pedestrian Path. If such paths exist or are planned, it would be useful to show them on a long-term plan for the area to indicate options for people walking to the site from the Arlington side of Route 2. Again, the connections could be tentative or diagrammatic. The benefit of an Arlington footpath to the bridge would be to provide a shorter route to get to the proponent’s site and avoid a route that requires walking to the Alewife MBTA Station and backtracking to get to the site.
  3. A pedestrian connection to the site from the west through Belmont via Frontage Road and Acorn Park Drive has been briefly mentioned as a longer-term goal. This should also be a part of the master plan for pedestrian facilities in the area. As part of this investigation, consideration might also be given to a sidewalk parallel to the south side of Route 2.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this project.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director