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Tag: traffic

Comments on 24 Ericsson Street Development (Neponset Wharf)

Comments on 24 Ericsson Street Development (Neponset Wharf)

September 29, 2017

Tim Czerwienski
Boston Planning and Development Agency
One City Hall, Ninth Floor
Boston, MA 02201

RE: WalkBoston comments on 24 Ericsson Street development (Neponset Wharf)

Dear Tim:

WalkBoston appreciates the opportunity to comment on the proposed Neponset Wharf development at 24 Ericsson Street in the Port Norfolk neighborhood of Dorchester, Boston. This project has the potential to advance walkable community goals by promoting active outdoor uses and enhancing pedestrian access to the waterfront. At the same time the project site remains highly inaccessible without a motor vehicle, which raises broader concerns about pedestrian safety and connectivity. Significant Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and mitigation measures would be necessary to address these issues.

The project proponent’s goals of creating two acres of new landscaped outdoor space on the site, including 28,000 square feet of continuous publicly accessible Harborwalk, will significantly enhance the local public realm, while also promoting active living and outdoor recreation. We are intrigued by the proponent’s consideration of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge to connect the project site with Tenean Beach. While such a bridge would certainly improve public access to the Harborwalk, we have also heard resident concerns about the bridge’s potential impacts on the local ecology and its potential to put excess demand on the availability of parking for Tenean Beach if users of the new development use the public parking lot park at the Beach.

Relatedly, the proponent has stated their intention to “provide pedestrian and bicycle transportation infrastructure that is consistent with Boston Transportation Department’s Complete Streets guidelines.” Creating streets, sidewalks and paths that accommodate road users of all abilities and travel modes is critical to developing more livable and walkable communities, so WalkBoston is pleased to see a commitment to these issues reflected in the project’s Environmental Notification Form. However actually implementing these concepts in a heavily car-dependent neighborhood and project site means that significant challenges must be addressed.

High proportion and number of motor vehicle trips: Given poor transit access and limited street connectivity to the Port Norfolk neighborhood and the proposed Neponset Wharf site, the proponent estimates that only five percent of trips generated by the project will be bicycle and walking trips. The remaining 95 percent of project-generated trips will be in motor vehicles, for a total of 1,440 new vehicular trips on an average weekday. To accommodate this traffic, the proponent has proposed 185 parking spaces on the project site. We are concerned that the number of trips and the number of parking spaces do not seem to be aligned, as these figures would suggest nearly eight trips per day per parking space. This suggests a need to more fully explore appropriate transportation options for the development of this site.

In addition, the increased volume of motor vehicles this project would generate in Port Norfolk will increase risks to people walking and biking on the neighborhood’s narrow streets and sidewalks. The project proponent has stated their intention to develop a TDM plan for the project in the forthcoming Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). This plan should include a full accounting of how proposed TDM measures would reduce the overall number of motor vehicle trips and increase the overall percentage of trips using walking, biking and transit modes.

Neighborhood access and pedestrian safety: Redfield Street, Tenean Street/Conley Street, and Woodworth Street/Walnut Street are the primary routes for motor vehicles to enter and exit the Port Norfolk neighborhood. The proposed project will significantly increase the number of motor vehicles traveling these streets, so the proponent should explore ways to implement traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures along these streets as mitigation. Given that much of this increased traffic will come from Neponset Circle/Morrissey Boulevard, the intersections of Redfield, Walnut, Conley and Tenean Streets at these locations should also be assessed for safety improvements in coordination with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

Site access and pedestrian safety: The project site abuts Ericsson Street, with a one-way entry to the site to be aligned with Port Norfolk Street and a one-way exit from the site to be aligned with Lawley Street. The proposed project will significantly increase the number of motor vehicles traveling these streets as well, so the proponent should also explore ways to implement traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures along these streets as further mitigation.

The proponent should also clarify how pedestrians will safely enter and exit the project site at Port Norfolk and Lawley Streets. The current site access/egress points at these locations lack sidewalks and are relatively narrow for motor vehicles even in the absence of sidewalks. These access/egress points also abut existing buildings, so while the proponent “envision[s] multiple accessible sidewalks along the entry points into the site,” it is unclear where the space for safe pedestrian accommodations will actually come from. Increasing the number of motor vehicles traveling through this area will pose additional safety risks to pedestrians, so the proponent should explore plans for mitigation here as well.

Thank you for considering these issues and please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Lenox Dale Walk Audit

Lenox Dale Walk Audit

Lenox is participating in the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Complete Streets Funding Program to secure funds for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects in town. Lenox has completed the first two steps to receive funding by passing a Complete Streets policy and submitting a Complete Streets Prioritization Plan. WalkBoston completed a walk audit in Lenox Center in the summer of 2016. Many of the infrastructure recommendations made in that audit were included in the Prioritization Plan. The Town of Lenox staff wanted to give Lenox Dale residents the same opportunity to participate in a walk audit to identify needed infrastructure improvements in the Dale.

Read the full report here:
WalkBoston-WalkAudit-LenoxDale

Downtown Fitchburg Walk Audit

Downtown Fitchburg Walk Audit

As part of its efforts to improve traffic safety and revitalize its economy, the Gateway City of Fitchburg, Massachusetts (population 40,000) is pursuing Complete Streets as a framework to address the needs of all road users (people walking, biking, driving and taking transit). Through this initiative as well as others, the City aims to generate more activity in its post – industrial downtown and surrounding areas. Fitchburg started implementing Complete Streets in September 2016 by replacing one of the two travel lanes along Main Street downtown with a bike lane and wooden and concrete planter boxes. These changes, which will be piloted for a year, have reduced traffic speeds on Main Street and beautified the neighborhood , creating a safer, more attractive and more comfortable environment for residents and visitors alike.

Read the full report here:
WalkBoston-DowtonWalkAssessment-Fitchburg

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

Downtown Cultural District Walk Assessment Springfield

Downtown Cultural District Walk Assessment Springfield

Springfield Massachusetts is a city of approximately 153,000 people located about 90 miles west of Boston. The third largest city in the Commonwealth, Springfield is the cultural and commercial center of the Pioneer Valley.

This walk assessment occurred in the Metro Center neighborhood of Springfield, which has been called the business, government, and cultural center of the city. Bounded by Route 291 to the north, Union and Howard Streets to the south, Federal Street to the east and the Connecticut River to the west, Metro Center is home to historic residential streets, high-rise apartment and office buildings, and a downtown retail district. The neighborhood contains several cultural institutions, including the Springfield Armory, Symphony Hall, and the Quadrangle, which houses several world-class museums and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden.

Read the full report here:
WalkBoston-DowntownCulturalDistrictWalkAssessment-Springfield