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Tag: MassDOT

Comment Letter on Paul Dudley White Construction Period

Comment Letter on Paul Dudley White Construction Period

February 7, 2019

Stephanie Pollack
Secretary of Transportation
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Transportation Building
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116

Leo Roy
Commissioner
Department of Conservation & Recreation
251 Causeway Street
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02114

Dear Secretary Pollack and Commissioner Roy:

We, the undersigned organizations, applaud MassDOT’s decision to rebuild the interchange of I-90 in Allston by reconstructing the Turnpike in a way that will result in wider riverside parkland and, we anticipate, restored riverbank. In addition to its environmental benefits, this will enhance facilities for the walkers, cyclists, and runners who flock to the area for recreation and commuting. We write to respond to the announcement that construction of the I-90 Intermodal Project will require an extended closure of the Paul Dudley White (PDW) path.

We urge you to develop a plan to retain the path during the construction period. We acknowledge that the project design next steps involve extensive mitigation, that stakeholders will continue to actively participate in stakeholder discussions, and that there is an immediate need to flag concerns regarding the PDW path.

The construction of the I-90 Project cannot and should not require closure of the Paul Dudley White (PDW) path for 8-10 years. The number of people who use the path and rely upon it as a commuter route is simply too large (and growing) to result in PDW users’ diversion to Cambridge. The proposed detour routes through Cambridge are difficult to maneuver and involve unsafe situations where path users will be forced to cross dangerous intersections and cyclists will be directed toward narrow sidewalks causing hazardous conditions for pedestrians sharing the walkway.

Our understanding is that closure of the PDW is an anticipated result of construction in the Throat area. We also understand that other parts of the project site, which are not as confined, offer places where the PDW path can be integrated safely with the highway construction. The law requires that MassDOT implement “all possible planning to minimize harm to the . . . recreation area” during and after construction. To comply, MassDOT and DCR must mitigate construction impacts in the Throat area allowing the PDW path to remain open for as much of the construction period as practicable, preferably on land or, if there is no other option, on a temporary structure in the Charles River.

In the past short temporary boardwalks have been built in the Charles River — for example, to bypass the Bowker interchange reconstruction. Temporary boardwalks have been used safely and effectively in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore park in Indiana, Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, New York, and at beaches in the Cape Cod National Seashore and in Duxbury and Sandwich, Massachusetts.

We urge you to incorporate plans to ensure access to the PDW path on the Boston side of the Charles River as you proceed with the difficult design work in the I-90 Throat area. The provision of a temporary Boston-side walking and biking path during construction is a necessary and legally required project element to mitigate any interruption in access to the permanent PDW path and prevent the safety problems that a Cambridge detour would bring to pedestrians and cyclists. Given the potentially lengthy roadway disruptions, alternative modes of transportation on the PDW will be critical to the Project’s success. We further request that the PDW path construction phase plans be added to the agenda for an upcoming Allston Multimodal Project Task Force meeting.

Thank you very much for your consideration and we look forward to your response.

Wendy Landman, Bob Sloane, WalkBoston
Margaret Van Deusen, Pallavi Mande, Charles River Watershed Association
Laura Jasinski, Harry Mattison, Charles River Conservancy
Staci Rubin, Conservation Law Foundation
Michael Nichols, The Esplanade Association
Galen Mook, Executive Director, MassBike
Becca Wolfson, Boston Cyclists Union
Stacy Thompson, Livable Streets

CC: City of Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh, Chief of Streets Chris Osgood
City of Cambridge, Mayor Marc McGovern, Transportation Program Manager Bill Deignan
Town of Brookline, Transportation Board Chair Chris Dempsey
FHWA, Division Administrator Jeff McEwen, Assistant Division Administrator Ken Miller
Senator Joseph Boncore
Senator William Brownsberger
Senator Sal DiDomenico
Representative Michael Moran
Representative Kevin Honan
Representative Jay Livingstone
Representative Tommy Vitolo

WGBH News – “Why Don’t The Boston Police Report Traffic Crash Data?”

WGBH News – “Why Don’t The Boston Police Report Traffic Crash Data?”

WGBH News: “Why Don’t The Boston Police Report Traffic Crash Data?

“It’s a real issue,” says Brendan Kearney, a spokesperson for Walk Boston, a pedestrian advocacy group.

The standardized crash data reported to the state by every other municipality, says Kearney, informs not just reports but state-funded improvement projects and studies, called “safety audits.”

“If they’re not sending in all this full police report data,” Kearney points out, key crash sites “could possibly be missing from some of these road safety audits.”

Posted January 24, 2019

Unchoked: Dual Paths included in MassDOT’s plans for massive Allston I90 Project!

Unchoked: Dual Paths included in MassDOT’s plans for massive Allston I90 Project!

“Unchoke the Throat!” – the rallying cry to improve the Charles River park and river edge in the I-90 Allston Interchange project – grew out of WalkBoston’s call for separate paths for people walking and biking along the river within a landscaped park. Joined by the Charles River Conservancy and community residents, the idea came to life when Sasaki produced drawings showing a vision of how it could be done. WalkBoston produced a video showing how the massive highway project could be an opportunity to create a better place for people running, biking, and walking along the Charles River.

People from around the region wrote letters to MassDOT expressing their support for dual paths and a better park in the Throat. Of the 500 letters MassDOT received during the FEIR public comment period, over 150 referenced our “#UnchokeTheThroat” video proposal.

MassDOT listened! The notion of dual paths, nonexistent in most of the planning prior to #UnchokeTheThroat, is now in nearly every paragraph of Transportation Secretary Pollack’s explanation of her January 10th decision to pursue a new concept for the Throat (see today’s Boston Globe Mass. Pike in Allston, Soldiers Field Road are set for a major overhaul”).

The chosen plan makes dual paths and a wider park possible with an at-grade Turnpike and placement of Soldiers Field Road on a new, smaller viaduct above the Turnpike. A more generous, straightened park is also included as part of the plan that extends commuter rail to Cambridge via the Grand Junction line across the Charles River. Each of these improvements will help to reduce noise and visual intrusions into the riverside park.

What’s next?

WalkBoston’s advocacy is not done! We have tracked this project since its beginning in 2014, and we will continue our efforts to make it better.

Our focus, along with other advocates and community partners, is to convince MassDOT of the need to prepare for the traffic disruption during construction by enhancing transit access to and from the west and protecting Allston and Brookline neighborhoods from cut through traffic. Maximizing express bus and commuter rail services in the corridor served by the Turnpike and the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail Line will be critical. New service should include West Station to enhance public transportation options that provide additional capacity when vehicle lanes on the Turnpike are removed from service during the years of construction. Local bus connections are needed to provide a web of services that get commuters to final destinations; the stations further out, too, will need to be considered, as they will likely see an influx of new riders hoping to avoid driving delays in the construction area. Pedestrian connections to all new or supplemented services are essential.

Work on the project – some call it “the biggest highway project since the Big Dig” – goes on. It is, of course, much more than a highway project. It is a major development with public transportation components that lead outward from West Station, with repercussions that stretch all the way to Worcester – encompassing the Western Corridor and the major employment centers of Harvard Square, the Longwood Medical Area, Kendall Square, Back Bay and Downtown. Boston will gain a whole new neighborhood that will add over 10 million square feet of new employment and residential buildings that will make the area another of the region’s most important destinations over the next few decades.

The Allston I-90 Project is a once in a generation project that Massachusetts needs to get right. It is our move to call attention to everyday issues that can be improved to make it safer and easier to get around now and in the future.

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

WalkBoston comments on Craigie Dam/Bridge Design Alternatives

WalkBoston comments on Craigie Dam/Bridge Design Alternatives

Date: January 2, 2019

To: Secretary Stephanie Pollack, Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, Andy Paul, Jackie Douglas,
James Kersten, MassDOT, Commissioner Leo Roy, Jeff Parenti, Dan Driscoll, DCR

Re: WalkBoston comments on Craigie Dam/Bridge Design Alternatives

We are relieved that MassDOT and DCR are committed to acting to improve the safety of people walking and biking on this critical roadway segment.

We have reviewed the options that were presented to the community on December 18th and have several comments that are detailed below. However, we do not think that the relatively modest improvements that are planned for Spring 2019 are adequate to providing truly safe walking and biking conditions, and we urge MassDOT and DCR to develop more significant plans for safety for the Charles River bridges.

One approach that WalkBoston would like to see explored is the adoption of a pilot 20 MPH speed limit on all the Charles River Bridges from Harvard Square to the Craigie Dam/Bridge that would test an automated speed enforcement protocol. Over the last month we have attended meetings regarding safety and operations for the BU Bridge, the Longfellow Bridge and the Craigie Dam/Bridge. In each case, the completely fixed and limited right-of-way does not allow for the provision of protected bike accommodations within the roadway right-of-way without reducing the number of vehicle lanes. WalkBoston was distressed to hear suggestions by community members at one of these meetings to dedicate one of the sidewalks to bicycles rather than pedestrians in order to free up roadway space for vehicles (a suggestion that we were pleased was simply given, but then not taken up or discussed by any of the state or municipal staff).

MassDOT has already expressed its interest in adding automated enforcement to the state’s safety tools and we urge MassDOT to vigorously support a pilot program for the bridges. Setting and then enforcing a 20 MPH speed limit on all the bridges would significantly increase the safety of bicyclists using on-street bicycle lanes while at the same time allowing the number of vehicle lanes to remain as they are today.

Comments on Design Options A and B

Craigie Dam/Storrow Drive Intersection

Take the following steps to minimize conflicts between people walking, biking and driving:

  • For turns from Craigie into Storrow Drive put in place (and enforce) a permanent No Right on Red regulation and include the permanently illuminated NRTOR sign
  • Set the vehicle for Craigie Dam traffic approaching Leverett Circle stop line back from the intersection (with Don’t Block the Box markings and enforcement) to allow bikes to queue in a bike box ahead of traffic
  • Provide marked bike lanes from Craigie to Martha Way through Leverett Circle
  • Tighten the turning radius of the corner from Craigie onto Storrow Drive and provide a bike ramp to the Paul Dudley White Path at the corner rather than having bikes get on the sidewalk before reaching the intersection. The very tight sidewalk space should be reserved for pedestrians.

Museum of Science Driveway and Museum Way/Craigie Intersection

  • Add crosswalk striping across the Museum of Science driveway.
  • Narrow the driveway to the greatest extent possible given the truck and bus movements needed for Museum of Science operations.
  • Consider signalizing the driveway entrance to the Museum of Science in coordination with the Museum Way signal.
  • Eliminate the conflicting left turn arrow across the WALK signal at the Museum Way crosswalk across Craigie.
  • Improve the street lighting of the crosswalk across Craigie at Museum Way

Craigie/Land Boulevard/Gilmore Bridge Intersection

Configure the signal timing at the Land Blvd/Craigie/Gilmore Bridge intersection to allow safe pedestrian and bike movements. A detailed description is provided below of the maneuver needed to ride a bike safely through the intersection under current conditions. This is in urgent need of improvement.

  • “At the intersection with Edwin H Land Blvd/ Gilmore Bridge, to feel safe as a bicyclist I will often violate traffic signals. The problem is that, whether traveling either inbound or outbound, if you wait for the light to change, traffic builds up next to you. When the light turns green, you are forced into the middle of a pack of fast-moving traffic, with cars and trucks rapidly accelerating and changing lanes.

    The situation is particularly dangerous when traveling outbound and making a left on Cambridge Street (a route most bicyclists take, as Route 28 gets faster and more dangerous beyond the Cambridge St. intersection). As a bicyclist, if you leave the Gilmore intersection with vehicle traffic, you then have to work your way across 2 lanes of fast-moving traffic to get into your left turn, and then must hold your ground in the middle of four lanes of outbound traffic in order to end up on the right-hand side of the two lane Cambridge St. turnoff. You can also hug the left-hand side of the road by the median strip, but traveling on the left side of the road can be dangerous too.

    I have found navigating the Science Bridge is actually safer when breaking the traffic signals. For example, when traveling outbound, if I hit the red light at the Gilmore intersection, there is a break in the signal when I usually run the red light on my bike. The break occurs between the green light for vehicles coming from Charlestown towards Cambridge, and the following green light for traffic moving inbound on 28. Taking the light this way has dangers too – at least one or two vehicles coming from Charlestown almost always speed through their red light (committing their own traffic violation), and you need to be absolutely sure those vehicles have stopped. Nevertheless, this method still allows me to make my way over to the Cambridge St turnoff without needing to cut across vehicle traffic, and feels much safer to me.”

Cc:
State Senator Joe Boncore
State Senator Sal DiDomenico
State Representative Jay Livingstone
State Representative Mike Connolly
Joe Barr, Cara Seiderman, Cambridge
Chris Osgood, Vineet Gupta, Charlotte Fleetwood, Boston
Becca Wolfson, Eliza Parad, Cyclists Union
Stacy Thompson, Steve Miller, LivableStreets Alliance
Galen Mook, Tom Francis, MassBike
Nate Fillmore, Cambridge Bike Safety