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Tag: Sullivan Square

Sullivan Square/Rutherford Avenue Design Project Comment Letter

Sullivan Square/Rutherford Avenue Design Project Comment Letter

April 11, 2018

Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
c/o Alexandra Kleyman AICP
TIP Manager
Transportation Building
10 Park Plaza, Suite 2150
Boston, MA 02116

Re: Sullivan Square/Rutherford Avenue Design Project (SS/RA Design Project)

Dear MPO Council and Staff,

WalkBoston has been engaged in and following the planning and design of Sullivan Square/ Rutherford Ave. for many years. The redesign of the streets and roadways for this part of Boston should reflect what the people of Charlestown, Somerville and Everett deserve as a hub for walking and transit, and should create opportunities for the redevelopment of what has long been a neglected, dysfunctional and unsafe auto-­centric wasteland.

We believe that the decisions about designs for both Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue should be made based on a thorough review of all of the options available for the roadways. Special attention should be given to providing a primarily at-grade street system with opportunities for at-­grade redevelopment of parcels (that do not require air rights or decks) as this will provide the greatest opportunity to create a sense of place, answer the long-­term transportation needs of this dense urban location, provide for safe mobility for all street users and allow for climate resilient designs.

We write to the MPO to request that funding for the project be deferred in the TIP so that there can be sufficient time for review of the alternatives that have been developed by Northeastern Professor Peter Furth at the request of Charlestown residents. The designs that he has developed provide opportunities to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, add landscape improvements and enhance development opportunities.

Thank you for your attention to this significant project.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Comments on Sullivan Square/Rutherford Avenue Design Project 3/31/17

Comments on Sullivan Square/Rutherford Avenue Design Project 3/31/17

March 31, 2017

Deputy Commissioner James Gillooly
Boston Transportation Department, 7th floor
1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201

Re: Sullivan Square/Rutherford Avenue Design Project (SS/RA Design Project)

Dear Deputy Commissioner Gillooly,

WalkBoston has been engaged in and following the planning and design of Sullivan Square/Rutherford Ave. for many years. We have consistently and persistently noted that the redesign of the streets and roadways for this part of Boston should reflect what the people of Charlestown, Somerville and Everett deserve as a hub for walking and transit, and should create opportunities for the redevelopment of what has long been a neglected, dysfunctional and unsafe auto-­centric wasteland.

We strongly believe that an at-­grade street system with opportunities for at-­grade redevelopment of parcels (that do not require air rights or decks) presents the greatest opportunity to create a sense of place, answer the long-­term transportation needs of this dense urban location, provide for safe mobility for all street users and allow for climate resilient designs.

Over the last decade transportation planners and engineers across the United States have come to understand that adding roadway capacity in multi-­‐modal, dense urban environments simply means that more people will drive their cars and fill up the roads. We’ve learned from years of mistakes that building large roads that look and feel like highways through communities encourages high speed traffic, attracts more vehicular traffic and traffic congestion, cuts off parts of neighborhoods.

The roadway, transit and sidewalk network at the heart of the Boston metro area should meet the multi-­‐modal needs appropriate to the land uses and neighborhoods that surround the roadway network. With I-­‐93 directly adjacent to Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue, this part of the region already houses a regional road system that serves longer distance travelers.

Slowing traffic down on Rutherford Ave and keeping regional traffic off of local roads will better protect Main St, Bunker Hill St and Medford St. the local streets are 1-­lane in each direction, with parking on both sides, and a number of traffic lights. It is counter-­‐intuitive to think that anyone might navigate off of Rutherford Ave and onto these streets in order to go faster. Waze and other similar tech services will always show drivers the fastest routes – if Rutherford Ave is faster than I-­93, Waze will route even more drivers through Charlestown.

The City’s new plan, Imagine Boston 2030 states the case that WalkBoston is making here: Sullivan Square has the potential to be “a walkable job and housing center with access to quality transit,” and goes on to note that this would require that “strategic infrastructure investment, potentially including open space, would be needed to address congestion and flooding vulnerability in Sullivan Square and nearby areas.”

The many comments that the City will receive about the project will provide both detailed technical and moving personal information about the project and its impacts on the Charlestown community. To put the project in a larger context, WalkBoston has reviewed the City’s plans for transportation (GoBoston 2030), resilience (Climate Ready Boston), and long range planning (Imagine Boston 2030). The table below puts the SS/RA in the context of the goals that these plans set for the City. We believe that the goals clearly point to the surface option as the right choice for the project.

If the City carries both options to further levels of refinement, we ask that several technical assessments be included:

1. Estimated number and severity of total traffic crashes for the entire roadway system from the Mystic River to Austin Street for each mode: pedestrians, bicycles, transit users and vehicles. We believe that the crash statistics cited on page 29 of the 2/28/17 slide show do not represent an accurate picture of the impacts of the project designs on all crashes. (see note below)

2. Measure the total land area devoted to roadway surface and “unbuildable” air rights parcels in each alternative.

3. Measure the longest distances that are not traversable by pedestrians between intersections: (1) from the bank of the Mystic River at Alford Street to the first pedestrian crossing, (2) from northern D Street south toward Baldwin Street), (3) north from Austin Street.

4. Estimate the walking travel time from the corner of Main and Bunker Hill Street to Sullivan Square Station.

5. Provide construction and fifty-­‐year operation/maintenance cost estimates for each proposal.

6. Describe in detail how vehicles using a Rutherford Ave tunnel will be slowed to 25-­‐30 mph when they emerge onto the surface portions of Rutherford Ave.

Let’s not put the design of Sullivan Square/Rutherford Ave on the wrong side of history. We don’t want to build new streets with underpasses that are “relics” before they are built.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best Regards,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Cc Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets, Transportation and Sanitation
Commissioner Gina Fiandaca, Boston Transportation Department
William Conroy, Project Manager Boston Transportation Department
Tad Read, Boston Planning and Development Agency
Peter Furth, Northeastern University
Amy Branger, Liz Levin, Emma Rothfeld Yashar, WalkBoston Board members and advocates from Charlestown

Note: Peter Furth provided WalkBoston with the following information about the cited crash statistics. “They are using Highway Safety Manual’s general 42% reduction in crash rate when an at-­‐grade intersection is converted to a grade-­‐separated interchange. It’s obvious, but worth emphasizing: a grade separated interchange is NOT what’s proposed for Sullivan Sq; what’s proposed is a flyunder, akin to a flyover. The HSM has no data on flyover / flyunder conversions. They are making a logical leap by using a reduction that comes from complete grade separation. On the slide they write “*Applies to Underpass Movements Only,” meaning they intend to apply that reduction only to cars who will use the underpass. However, that suggests that a flyunder will leave all the other traffic unaffected. That is not proven (there is no data), and moreover, there are good reasons to expect that crash rate will go *up* for the other traffic. One reason is that the only traffic removed by the flyunder is thru traffic; all the turning traffic, which carries higher crash risk, remains, and furthermore will be concentrated. More importantly, the space required for the flyunder structure forces the at-­‐grade intersection to have an unfavorable geometry, with the left turn lanes that flank the underpass separated from each other in a way that results in interlocking left turns, which are less efficient and (probably) less safe. Nobody would ever lay out an intersection that way if they weren’t constrained by the structure of the flyover / flyunder. That change could have an unfavorable safety effect that erases the gains enjoyed by thru cars that get to bypass the intersection.”

Comments on the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Wynn Everett Development, MEPA# 15060

Comments on the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Wynn Everett Development, MEPA# 15060

August 8, 2014

Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
Attn: Anne Canaday
100 Cambridge St., Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

RE: Comments on the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Wynn Everett Development MEPA# 15060

Dear Secretary Vallely Bartlett:

WalkBoston has reviewed this document, in keeping with what we have done for other projects across the state, looking for potential mplications for pedestrians as a result of the proposal. We offer the following comments.

Access to the site as a pedestrian 
The Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Wynn Everett Development includes changes in the program between the DEIR and the FEIR. Changes that were introduced reduce the square footage devoted to the hotel, retail space, and convention services and enlarge the gaming areas, food/beverage service areas, entertainment/nightclub areas and support areas. Total square footage of the development has risen from 2,619,234 to 3,038,695 square feet. A total of 3,200 slot machines and 160 gaming tables are proposed, along with a 504-room hotel. The number of parking spaces under the complex has been increased and will house 3,700 cars on-site and 800 off-site.

• The use of public transportation is not encouraged by the present plan. Arrivals by vehicle are emphasized. The project is estimated to generate 9,424 vehicle trips on a Friday. Fewer people will arrive by public transportation – estimate at 3,265 public transportation person trips and 1,454 additional trips if water transportation is provided. (it is unclear where the water transportation riders go if water transportation is not provided, and this analysis should be provided if the proponent does not contractually commit to providing water transportation service.)

• Estimates of the use of public transportation conclude that capacity on public transportation is available, suggesting that more use of public transportation could be encouraged. Bus routes that serve the site generally have excess capacity (although estimates are that use will exceed capacity of Routes 104 and 109 outbound at certain times. Given the capacity available, there are no suggestions of making greater use of bus services on Alford Street at the site entrance or of enhancing capacity on Routes 104 and 109. Orange Line riders are also projected to be accommodated by available capacity. Shuttle service to the site from the Orange Line Sullivan Square Station is proposed, and, if adequately promoted, may at some point in the future result in more patrons arriving by public transportation.

• Walk-in traffic is not encouraged by the present plan. Walk-ins to the site include public transportation riders as well as nearby residents or employees. We are concerned that the pedestrian access may be unattractive to walkers. Sidewalks along both sides of the entrance drive are not afforded the lavish landscaping and improvements that surround paths along the water. Walk-in customers are not anticipated from the west side of the tracks, though a potential route is to be provided.

• A portion of the riverside might be used for additional pedestrian access. Immediately adjacent to this property, and also along the Mystic River, are lands owned and occupied in part by public agencies that front on Route 99. The proponent should explore with these agencies the potential for riverside access for pedestrians, in effect extending the Mystic River pathway network closer to Sullivan Square and making the walking routes much more attractive. The riverside route could be an attractive alternative for walkers to reach the proponent’s property away from the heavy traffic on Route 99.

The on-site paths are major links in the East Coast Greenway/Northern Strand/Bike to the Sea rail trail.
Although the proposal does not encourage access by pedestrians, it does include a very good proposal to extend the on-site walkways into the adjacent Gateway Park. Plans are in place for a regional multi-purpose path between downtown Boston and the New Hampshire state line. Called the Borders to Boston Trail, this route is 28 miles long and traverses 8 communities. Everett has constructed a portion of the path that is currently the southern end of the trail. A link across the Mystic River is required to access Boston. One proposal was to construct a pedestrian bridge over the Mystic River between Everett and Somerville. The engineering study done for this connection resulted in a finding that there was no feasible crossing at this location at an acceptable cost.

The alternative to a new and costly bridge is a connection directly through the proponent’s site. The route would connect Gateway Park’s riverside paths through the proponent’s site, where the route would link with bike paths and sidewalks along Alford Street to gain access into Boston. As it becomes a link in a major-north-south bicycle and pedestrian route, it will need careful attention to design details in the path proposed by the proponent. For a multipurpose path of this importance, a clear width of 10’ may be inadequate to accommodate likely numbers of walkers, joggers and cyclists. The route across the site should be investigated to assure that potential users of the site’s waterfront will not be adversely affected by the multi-purpose path. Access at the Alford Street intersection should also be investigated to assure safety for pedestrians and cyclists who may be crossing to get to the site.

Off-site improvements
The proponent has committed to improve several roadways near the site. Alford Street will clearly be in need of improvements because of impacts from this proposal. Alford Street will also need appropriate pedestrian signal equipment (automatic WALK signals during times of day when pedestrians will be present, countdown signals, leading pedestrian indicators, and signal heads at each intersection). Refuge islands at the street centerline should be considered. Crosswalks will need fresh zebra striping, possible curb extensions and potential addition of in-street crosswalk “yield to pedestrian” signs.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important project.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman              Robert Sloane
Executive Director            Senior Planner

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Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Wynn Everett, MEPA #15060

Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Wynn Everett, MEPA #15060

February 10, 2014

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

RE: Comments on the EIR for Wynn Everett, MEPA #15060

Dear Secretary Sullivan:

WalkBoston offers the following comments on the Wynn Everett Draft Environmental Impact Report. While we are pleased to see that the DEIR includes the proposal for the harbor walk and water transportation docking facilities, we are concerned about the traffic impacts and the lack of sufficient preparation for pedestrian access to the site. Improved pedestrian access is crucial to encouraging transit use as a significant travel choice for both employees and patrons.

Our comments are organized around two key issues: (1) enhancing and encouraging walking and transit, (2) mitigating the impacts of auto trips.

Enhancing and encouraging walking and transit
An Everett casino should be viewed through the lens of an urban re-development project that fits within its neighborhood and enhances the lives of its neighbors as well as its patrons and employees. In order to do that, the development should maximize the number of transit and walking trips, and minimize the number of auto trips.

1. Transit access and emphasis.
As currently planned, primary subway transit access will be provided by the Orange Line Sullivan Square MBTA Station which is about .75 miles from the site. Transit stations at Wellington and Assembly Square are each over 1.5 miles from the site, and currently have indirect, time-consuming pedestrian routes to the proposed casino. Transit should be encouraged through a number of different carrots and sticks.

• Bus service should be enhanced by improving nearby bus stops or providing subsidies to provide additional service for nearby routes. The safe use of bus stops on the far side of Route 99 is especially important to consider; the proponent should assure that there are traffic signals at all bus stops to provide safe passage for pedestrians crossing at these locations.

• Providing an off-site, transit-convenient and/or shuttle-served location for parking used by the majority of employees is one important option. The connection of proponent- or operator-controlled shuttles to these locations will reduce the impact of vehicles at the access points into the site. To attract patrons to use the bus, the proponent may want to experiment with shuttles that are attractive and “fun.”

• The proponent has included shuttle buses to nearby subway stations and to offsite parking lots. Frequency of the proposed service should allow Orange Line and bus riders to be served within very short (maximum 15-minute) wait times. All shuttle services should be made free for employees and patrons.

• The proponent and operator of the casino should price parking spaces to discourage parking during all times of day and evening during which transit service is available.

• Carpooling should be encouraged and subsidized for employees who live outside the MBTA service area or who work late-night shifts.

• The proponent should subsidize ferry services to make use of the proposed water transportation facility.

• The proponent should establish a transportation management organization that can efficiently deal with transit encouragement through subsidized transit passes, and other means that encourage the use of transit.

• Monitoring and reporting on the successes of the proponent and operator of the site in reducing vehicular traffic should be undertaken on an annual basis for the first 10 years of use of the new facilities.

2. Pedestrian access improvements
• Significant improvement of pedestrian access to Sullivan Station should be included in the proponent’s transportation mitigation plan. Access for pedestrians along Lower Broadway remains a concern. When Route 99/Broadway was reconstructed by the state, new bicycle lanes were added in both directions, but the existing sidewalks were narrowed to permit expansion for other transportation modes. The proponent should detail the ways in which sidewalks will be upgraded for pedestrian access into the site. Improved sidewalk access should extend at least as far as the MBTA Sullivan Square Station, which will require the proponent to work closely with the City of Boston.

• The new intersections serving the site should be carefully planned to include safety measures for pedestrian crossings. This should include pedestrian phase timing at these and other signalized intersections constructed or modified as part of the proposal.

• The potential new pedestrian and bicycle connection that the proponent proposes to create an approximately .75 mile direct route between the site and Santilli Circle – is intended to encourage pedestrian traffic. The proponent should be required to continue its work with the DCR and the MBTA to assure that this very short, relatively inexpensive connection actually gets constructed. The proponent should promote use of this route to encourage its use.

• A connection between the site and the City of Somerville could be provided by access over the Amelia Earhart Dam. This connection would lead to both the new Assembly Square MBTA Station and to the Somerville/Charlestown Mystic River path network. A connection across the dam could make the Assembly Square station the closest transit access point for the site. The proponent should work with the cities, as well as the DCR and the MBTA (owners of the land) to see whether this long sought pedestrian amenity that would link the extensive riverfront path networks on the two sides of the river, could be provided by the project.

• A concept plan for the streetscape in Everett has been mentioned. We trust that the plan, if developed, will be generous in its recommendations for pedestrian access.

Mitigating/managing the impacts of auto trips
We are concerned that the location of the site and its considerable distance from centers of population and regional transit stations will result in motor vehicles providing the majority of the access to the site, as the proponent has stated. The emphasis on access for vehicular traffic via Broadway leads to potentially difficult traffic concentrations – not only for Broadway, but also for Sullivan Square and the Sweetser Circle at Route 99/16. Both of these locations are already challenged by daily traffic patterns and the addition of casino traffic would seem to bring new and extensive challenges.

All of the access via Sullivan Square will deeply affect the Charlestown neighborhood and its plans for improvements at Sullivan Square. The proponent should work closely with residents of Charlestown and the City of Boston to reach an improved understanding of potential traffic volumes and impacts and the methods that might be used to partially mitigate the effects on the neighborhood. This should include traffic data collection and analysis, and detailed work with the City of Boston to review and assess all options for mitigating the impacts that casino related traffic will have on city streets, intersections and sidewalks. A community agreement between the City of Boston and the proponent should be reached prior to further planning.

Thank you for considering our comments. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Robert Sloane
Senior Project Manager

 

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Comments on the Expanded Environmental Notification Form for Wynn Everett

Comments on the Expanded Environmental Notification Form for Wynn Everett

July 12, 2013

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

RE: Comments on the EENF for Wynn Everett, MEPA #15060

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

WalkBoston has reviewed the Expanded Environmental Notification Form for Wynn Everett, a resort proposed to include 2.9 million square feet of development along the west side of Lower Broadway (Route 99) in Everett, with frontage on the commuter rail line and an existing embayment of the tidal Mystic River. The proposal includes 3,490 structured parking spaces, and waterfront features that include a harbor walk and water transportation docking facilities. Principal access to the site is from two proposed intersections with Lower Broadway.

Traffic is significant: there will be an additional 29,384 new vehicles trips on a Friday, and 35,754 new vehicle trips on a Saturday, with the largest peak-hour volumes occurring on Friday and Saturday evenings. To accommodate this traffic, a new signalized intersection with Lower Broadway is to be constructed, connecting with an on-site boulevard. Lower Broadway is to be widened to allow two southbound right turns into the boulevard. Northbound left turns will be handled by a widening of Lower Broadway or a jughandle using Bow Street that would allow vehicles to turn to the south and enter the site.

 

A secondary service drive is contemplated that will intersect Lower Broadway north of the site. The intersection of this drive with Lower Broadway is also anticipated to be signalized.

Transit access will be provided at the Sullivan Square MBTA Station, 1.2 miles from the site. Transit stations at Wellington and Assembly Square are each 0.8 miles from the site, but currently have indirect pedestrian routings to the proposed resort. Shuttle buses to all subway stations have been proposed.

Our comments center on pedestrian access into and within the site. We are basically concerned that the location of the site and its considerable distance from centers of population and regional transit stations will result in motor vehicles providing the majority of the access to the site. Despite that concern, we have reviewed the proposal for individual improvements in pedestrian access associated with the project.

Off-site access to and from the proposed resort

Lower Broadway was recently reconstructed by the state as part of its enhancements to State Route 99, which included the addition of new bicycle lanes in both directions and the narrowing of existing sidewalks to permit expansion for other transportation modes. The proponent should detail the ways in which sidewalks will be upgraded for pedestrian access into the site. Sidewalk access should extend at least as far as the MBTA Sullivan Square Station, which will require the proponent to deal with that portion of the sidewalk within the City of Boston.

 

A new commuter rail station being investigated by the City of Everett on the commuter rail line that is adjacent to this site. To make this proposal a realistic option, the proponent should detail the ways in which rail connections to the site will be integrated with the resort, including major pedestrian routes into the heart of the site. A brief mention was made of an existing underpass; perhaps this could be upgraded to provide a connection to both sides of the track.

 

The new intersections with Lower Broadway for both the major boulevard access and the service access should be carefully planned to include safety measures for pedestrian crossings. This should include pedestrian phase timing at these and other signalized intersections constructed or modified as part of the proposal.

 

A potential connection between the site and the City of Somerville could be provided by access over the Amelia Earhart Dam. This connection would lead to both the new Assembly Square MBTA Station and to the Somerville/Charlestown Mystic River path network.

 

Riverfront access

The proposal envisions an extension of the Mystic River trail system from this site to the west. This extension involves going under the elevated commuter rail line along the River to reach Gateway Park and other open spaces planned for the banks of the Malden River. This will extend parks in appropriate riverside locations and in accordance with local and regional park planning.

One of the uses of the proposed trail system to the west is suggested to be a connection to allow access to and from the MBTA Wellington Station. This station is nearly a mile away, and it may be difficult to attract transit riders to use the trail, as access to it involves walking in open spaces where walkways are not readily visible from the street. The proponent should investigate making this walkway safe for access to its site with improved signage and lighting.

A portion of the embayment along the Mystic River is located inside the City of Boston and is occupied in part by public agencies. The proponent should explore with these agencies the potential for riverside access for pedestrians, in effect extending the Mystic River pathway network closer to Sullivan Square.

We look forward to the details of these and other elements of the plan. 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