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Tag: jamaica plain

Comments on Arborway Safety Audit Meeting and DCR Parkway Needs Along the Necklace

Comments on Arborway Safety Audit Meeting and DCR Parkway Needs Along the Necklace

February 7th, 2019

Commissioner Leo Roy
Department of Conservation and Recreation
251 Causeway St, 9th Floor
Boston, MA. 02114
Re: Arborway, Jamaica Plain, MA.

Dear Commissioner Roy:

We are writing to express our strong desire to partner with DCR and others to improve
safety for all users on the Arborway section of the Emerald Necklace in the Jamaica Plain
neighborhood for Boston. This area forms part of the larger Emerald Necklace and poses
serious challenges accommodating pedestrians, bicycles and automobiles safely in a
continuous manner along its length.

Over the last several years, DCR planning efforts have started, meetings have been held,
proposals made, but final plans or improvements are not yet planned or realized. We ask
that you re-double your efforts to improve Arborway from Jamaica Pond/Kelley Circle to
the new Casey Arborway. The Conservancy and our partners at Walk Boston and The
Boston Cyclists Union are very concerned with the number of incidents that have taken
place along the Arborway in Jamaica Plain recently. This section of roadway has proven to
be an increasingly dangerous stretch over the last couple of years, and we would like to
draw your attention to what seems to be a growing number of incidents in recent months.
The incidents have ranged in seriousness. Last year, a victim of a crash in 2013 succumbed
to his serious brain injuries and died.

Based on information received from local residents and the Arborway Coalition over the
summer months in 2018 there were:

  • 3 crashes through the fence across from the Arboretum resulting in damage to the fence and
    trees.
  • The pedestrian crossing sign at Murray Circle/Centre Steet /May Street was hit and
    knocked over twice, with tire tracks visible on the sidewalk.
  • A hit and run involving a motorist and bicyclist at Murray Circle.

Based on information gathered from a State Police Report (likely NOT complete) there were
approximately 150 reported crashes on the Arborway from Jan. 5, 2017 to Aug. 8, 2018,
which is an average of over 8 crashes per month.

In the fall of 2018, the Conservancy’s staff, Board of Overseers and others organized walks
through this area of the Arborway. Attendees included Nika Elugardo, new State Representative,
and Jennifer Norwood of DCR. The walks were helpful to see the issues along this section of
parkway (excessive speeds, lack of clear and safe pedestrian and bicycle amenities) and make it
clear that we are seeking a solution that improves safety for all – pedestrians, bicyclists and
automobiles.

We understand that alterations to the Arborway section of the parkways were put on hold until
the new Casey Arborway was completed. The Casey Arborway roadway work is now in place, so
we hope improvements can proceed without delay to the remainder of the Arborway.

We were pleased to recently learn that DCR is doing a comprehensive road safety audit of this
section of parkway and is working with MassDOT to collect all available data. We look forward to
joining an anticipated site walk and seeing a final report in April.

It is our hope that this safety audit will lead to good information, and will lead to a plan to make
improvements. Please let us know how we can support your efforts towards this goal.

Thank you for your attention to this pressing matter.

Sincerely yours,

Karen Mauney-Brodek, President
Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Wendy Landman, Executive Director
WalkBoston

Becca Wolfson, Executive Director
Boston Cyclists Union

Cc: Chris Cook Chief, Environment, Energy, and Open Space; Commissioner, Parks and Recreation;
Erin Gallentine, Director of Open Space, Town of Brookline;
Patrice Kish, Director of Historic Resources, DCR;
Jennifer Norwood, Director of External Affairs and Partnerships, DCR;
Conservancy Board of Directors and Overseers
Nika Elugardo, State Representative
Liz Malia, State Representative
Matt O’Malley, City Councilor

Comments on Morton Intersection Improvements, Project: 608755

Comments on Morton Intersection Improvements, Project: 608755

Patricia Leavenworth, P.E., Chief Engineer
MassDOT-Highway Division
10 Park Plaza Boston, MA 02116-3973

Attn: Roadway Project Management – Room 6340

Re: Morton Intersection Improvements Project: 608755

December 21, 2018

Dear Ms. Leavenworth:

We are submitting comments in regards to Intersection Improvements at three intersections along Morton Street after seeing the plans at a public meeting on December 19, 2018.

First, we ask the Department to please extend the 10-day public comment period given that the meeting was held just before the Christmas holiday and it may be hard for residents to get feedback in on time. We are pleased to see MassDOT undertaking this project and look forward to continuing to work with you on implementation of safety improvements to the corridor.

Overall, we feel the project will improve safety for drivers, but will do little to improve the safety or convenience for pedestrians or cyclists. In this area, pedestrian safety needs to be prioritized in the design utilizing Complete Streets guidelines. We also ask that these spot improvements are the beginning and not the end of a process to improve the entire stretch of Morton St and create connections from Mattapan to Franklin Park and walking/biking paths in Jamaica Plain, especially as this stretch is identified in Go Boston 2030 for connecting the Southwest Corridor to the Blue Hills Reservation. In addition, we are advocating for the following adjustments and additions the plans presented on December 19:

  • Increased traffic calming on Morton Street
    The high speeds on Morton Street make the street unsafe for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. We applaud that the design calls for narrower travel lanes but additional measures need to be taken to slow speeds. Possible solutions might be raised intersections, additional STOP signs and/or traffic signals.
  • Create a safe pedestrian crossing between Morton/Blue Hill Ave and Morton/Harvard
    There is no crosswalk in the 1000-foot stretch between Blue Hill Ave and Harvard Street. This is a dense residential neighborhood and the lack of a safe crossing here is a major community concern. The crossing could either be at Courtland/Havelock/Morton or Wellington Hill/Morton depending on the neighborhood’s preference.The lack of a crosswalk contributes to the highway feel of Morton Street and hence the high speeds and extremely high crash clusters over the past four years. Any crosswalk should include a HAWK beacon for improved notice and safety of pedestrians crossing the street.
  • Design a traffic signal system which enables pedestrians to easily and safely cross Blue Hill Ave
    People wishing to cross Blue Hill Ave must now push a button to wait for a WALK signal. Once the intersection is redesigned they will still have to push a button to cross the street. We strongly request traffic signals that “rest in WALK”.
    Push buttons result in very long waits for walkers. Depending upon when a walker pushes the button in the traffic cycle he/she may wait for over two minutes to get a walk signal. Furthermore, pedestrians must be able to cross the six lanes of Blue Hill Ave in one cycle. Neither MassDOT staff nor their consultants could guarantee that walkers would be able to cross in one cycle.
  • The bike boxes at the Blue Hill Ave and Morton St intersection are an important safety measure however the placement of one in the Southeast corner of the intersection could pose a dangerous conflict with right turning cars. We would like to look more closely at the designs to assess this. An additional left-turning bike box is needed at the northeast corner in so that cyclists can safely turn left off of blue Hill onto Morton St towards Jamaica Plain.
  • We support the overwhelming response from residents who advocated to keep the bus stop where it currently is on Blue Hill Ave.
  • We applaud the design’s tightening of curb radii at Blue Hill/Morton and if floating bus stops are in a location supported by community members, we would support them and the addition of bike facilities at the intersection. It appeared that at least some people at the public meeting had never seen or experienced floating bus stops and more education is needed about how they work when proposing them. We understand that parking will not be permitted within 20 feet of the intersections but we also heard that there are many violations of this regulation. We recommend that additional curb extensions, either concrete or flexposts, be added to the design.

Sincerely,
Dorothea Hass, WalkBoston
Eliza Parad, Boston Cyclists Union
Galen Mook, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition
Tony Lechuga, LivableStreets Alliance

Jamaica Plain Gazette – “City Council holds hearing regarding dockless mobility, electric scooters”

Jamaica Plain Gazette – “City Council holds hearing regarding dockless mobility, electric scooters”

Jamaica Plain Gazette: “City Council Holds Hearing Regarding Dockless Mobility, Electric Scooters

Kristen McCosh from the Mayor’s Office of Persons With Disabilities said that part of her role is to make sure the path of travel on the sidewalks remain unobstructed.

“Sidewalks are the most common mode of travel for people with disabilities,” McCosh said. She said she was concerned about accessibility of the scooters themselves as well as their speed, and where they might be left in the way of someone who is blind or low vision.

“People with disabilities are not in a position to move them or even go around them,” she said.

In the third panel, Stacy Thompson, executive director of the Livable Streets Organization, and Brendan Kearney from WalkBoston, made suggestions about the implementation of the new scooters. Thompson told the City Council that she hopes they will meet their excitement about the prospect with “increased funding for the infrastructure that will be required to support this.” She also said that regulating the speed of the scooters is just a small portion of the conversation that needs to be had about regulating the speed of all vehicles. Redesigning streets and curbside management were things that Kearney said needed to be thought about.

Posted November 9, 2018

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 DEIR/DPIR for the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project

Comments on the DEIR/DPIR for the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project

April 18, 2017

Matthew Beaton, Secretary
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
ATTN: Alex Strysky, MEPA Office 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

Brian Golden, Director
Boston Planning and Development Agency
ATTN: Michael Rooney
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201-­‐1007

RE: Comments on the DEIR/DPIR for the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project
MEPA: #15502

Dear Sirs:

WalkBoston has reviewed the DEIR/DPIR for Back Bay/South End Gateway Project. We are concerned about this project because of its impacts on rail and bus transportation, walking and biking. With the latest submission of plans for the project, we continue to see serious issues with pedestrian access into, through and around the site. These are described below.

  1. Inappropriate relocation of the layover site for the Route 39 bus
    The proposal states that the layover site for the Route 39 bus will be located “off-­‐site.” Back Bay Station is one end of this bus route, which is one of the busiest in the MBTA system, serving Back Bay, the Fenway and Jamaica Plain. Buses congregate here and wait until schedules require them to return to the main route.The proposal for Route 39 is to remove it entirely from the streets directly connected to Back Bay Station, and to truncate the route before it connects with the Orange Line or the commuter rail/Amtrak services. Reducing the convenience of connections between Route 39 and other portions of the MBTA system will result in negative impacts on transit riders that should be avoided. We urge the City and MEPA to require the proponent to bring Route 39 back to the station. A possible layover site is Trinity Place (between Stuart and St. James Streets). The re-­‐routing of the 39 bus route to this layover location could provide a reasonable drop-­‐off and pick-­‐up solution on Stuart Street, which will have direct pedestrian access in Back Bay Station for bus riders.
  2. Sidewalks that surround the site
    Sidewalks along the Dartmouth Street side of the project, where foot traffic is already heavy and likely to increase due to the new development, have been widened to a minimum of 13 feet, as shown in Fig, 3.8b. Sidewalks along Stuart Street are to be a minimum of 11 feet, as shown in Fig, 3.8c, perhaps reflecting the proponent’s projection of likely foot traffic on this side of the site. Along Clarendon Street, sidewalks range from 9 to 15 feet, as shown in Fig. 3.8d; it is not entirely clear if the 9’ width is a result of the footprint of the proposed residential building.Sidewalks may not be sufficiently wide, especially if street trees, planters or bicycle parking are also accommodated in the width otherwise available for pedestrians.A large public plaza is proposed at the Clarendon Street intersection to replace the existing forecourt to the east entrance to the station. Here sidewalks are very wide and the plaza offers generous open space. Much of this plaza appears to be for passive use to people walking by, although there is a retail space provided in one corner that, if used as a restaurant, might result in tables on the outdoor plaza.We are pleased to see that the principal entrance to Back Bay Station on Dartmouth Street is enhanced by the addition of major new entrances framed by the arch and a design that focuses on providing continuity of the sidewalk and interior surfaces to unite them and welcome users. An enlarged Dartmouth Street crosswalk that is 60 feet wide along the site’s frontage will be centered on the new entrance. Taxi zones are provided both north and south of the main entrance.We are pleased that the proponents have increased sidewalk widths by comparison to the earlier proposals.
  3. Movement on sidewalks around the perimeter of the project
    The project site is in a pedestrian-­friendly portion of the city. There are more people walking along and crossing the perimeter streets than there are drivers using these same streets. For example, looking at the existing condition pedestrian volumes counted between 8:00 and 9:00 AM in 2016 in Figure 4.6a, we note that there are 2,253 people crossing Dartmouth in front of Back Bay Station, 1,264 walkers crossing on the east walk of the Stuart Street/Dartmouth Street intersection, 1,098 pedestrians crossing Stuart Street at Trinity Place, and 1,646 pedestrians crossing Stuart Street at Clarendon Street. A total of 1,071 pedestrians crossed the garage driveway on Clarendon Street during this period.Meanwhile, in the same period, Dartmouth Street handles 486 cars northbound and 703 cars southbound. Stuart Street handled 784-­1,057 vehicles in this period and Clarendon Street handled 503-­625 vehicles.Although there are 15 different projections of vehicular traffic under alternative futures, there are no projections at all of pedestrian traffic. There are, however, projections of pedestrian level of service at selected intersections. See Table 4.12.3 page 4-­126. The accompanying text states that PLOS doesn’t change between Existing, No-­build and Build Conditions because walk times and cycle lengths will not change. Is this a valid conclusion without he benefit of projecting future pedestrian volumes?Based on the data that was provided, it appears that there are about three times as many pedestrians as there are cars during peak hours.
  4. Movement across the sidewalk – Dartmouth Street
    In order to improve access to the proposed parking garage, the proponent has proposed changing Turnpike access patterns and partially shifted vehicle access and egress away from Stuart and Clarendon Streets and provided a new exit onto Dartmouth Street. These changes directly affect pedestrian safety at the principal pedestrian access to Back Bay Station.As shown on the proponent’s plans, the proposed vehicular exit from the garage is in an inappropriate location on Dartmouth Street. The exit ramp will pose a hazard for pedestrians on this portion of Dartmouth Street, where thousands of people (see numbers in Section 3 above) are walking during peak hours. This location is an especially busy and important place for pedestrians walking to, through and making connections to transit.Shifting the location of Turnpike access so significantly by removing a major access point to the westbound Turnpike in the midst of Back Bay and requiring all drivers to use alternative access on Huntington Avenue does not make sense for this part of the City. This does not seem an appropriate choice in the context of Boston’s adoption of Vision Zero and the City’s declaration in GoBoston 2030 that Boston will “prioritize the movement of people over cars.”
    WalkBoston does not believe that it is in the interest of public safety and convenience to shift existing vehicular access so that it results in a garage exit ramp in a congested pedestrian zone. An alternative to this garage exit ramp should be developed.
  5. Movement across the sidewalk -­Clarendon Street
    On the Clarendon Street side of the property, there are multiple garage entrances and exits as there are today, and the sidewalk needs very careful treatment to protect pedestrians. The proposal to add a bulb out to shorten the Clarendon mid-­‐block pedestrian crossing is a good idea. As noted above, WalkBoston believes that Clarendon Street is a better location for garage and Turnpike access than the proposed Dartmouth Street garage exit and circuitous Turnpike access.The new plaza on the Clarendon Street side of the property has been designed with a drop-­‐off lane that doubles as a route for delivery and service vehicles for the residential and retail occupants of the structure. The drop-­‐off lane occupies what appears to be about 40% of the plaza, and raises the question of whether it needs to be this size.If the space is being used primarily for vehicular needs – drop-­offs, taxis, deliveries, service, and potential bus storage – that colors the manner that the design might take for the plaza. If, on the other hand, some of the vehicular needs could be transferred to the street – perhaps with some widening to accommodate the intended use. Getting rid of the drop-­off lane would considerably improve the potential for this plaza to be genuinely pedestrian-­friendly, and open it to other retail uses that would enhance the productivity and attractiveness of this end of the property.
  6. The station area concourse
    We are gratified that the proponent enlarged the proposed waiting area, rather than transforming it into a retail facility. However, we continue to be concerned about the redesign 4 of the concourses to narrower passageways lined by many retail facilities. New retail activity will increase in the number of pedestrians to accommodate on the narrowed concourses. The relocation of the commuter rail and Amtrak ticket offices to a new location at a substantial distance from either the waiting area or the entrances to the rail platforms seems ill-­‐advised. The proposed new location is deeper within the station area, much closer to the east entrances than to the likely more important west entrances. It is also indistinguishable from adjacent retail stalls that may or may not have relevance for rail travelers. The proposed layout is occurring during a period of reduction in the number of small retail businesses in many locations, including central Boston and the Back Bay. Active ticket offices in a central location may be more important to bolster other retail outlets, and benefit the management and rental of retail stalls throughout the station area.
  7. Construction on the rail station platforms
    The proposal calls for use of the station platforms for supports for the new high-­‐rise building being built in the Station East portion of the project. These new obstructions narrow the platforms for waiting or alighting passengers and add complexity in an environment where moving to or from access points is already complicated. This is true of both the Orange line platform, serving both directions for subway passengers and the southernmost railway platform serving commuter rail passengers to and from the south and southwest, including Providence, New York, Washington and the entire eastern seaboard.Using the existing rail platforms for construction of these supports will obstruct passenger traffic during construction as well as after completion. Designs should be carefully integrated with existing obstructions such as columns to minimize interference with passenger traffic flow.

We are very concerned about the changes proposed for the station, the bus layover facility, the vehicle circulation, sidewalks and interior passageways. We would 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,

Wendy Landman                                               Bob Sloane
Executive Director                                             Senior Project Manager

 

Cc City Council President Michelle Wu
City Councilor Josh Zakim
Ellis South End Neighborhood Association
Bay Village Neighborhood Association
Neighborhood Association of Back Bay