Tag: walking routes

Newton: The Fields of Newton Walking Map

Newton: The Fields of Newton Walking Map

Imagining fields in today’s Newton takes a giant leap of faith. Yet it is possible for a sensitive walker to trace the underlying structure of the community by exploring its topography, its oldest roads, and the residential buildings that blanket the area. You can find vestiges of the old fields and in the spacious settings of institutions built on large parcels.

Newton’s flat or gently rolling topography and relatively fertile soil kept farming attractive here for more than two hundred years. Rocky of hilly areas that could not be made into fields became woodlots for timber growing and harvesting.

When the railroad arrived and commuting began in about 1850, however, rows of housing took the place of many of the fields. Today the development of Newton’s fields can often be dated by examining variants of architectural styles. Indeed, this walk is a virtual primer on residential architecture: you’ll pass styles ranging from Stick to Colonial to Queen Anne to Shingle.

Click for “WalkBoston Newton Walking Map” on Google Maps

Comments on the MGM Springfield DEIR

Comments on the MGM Springfield DEIR

January 31, 2014

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

RE: Comments on the MGM Springfield Draft Environmental Impact Report
EEA #15033

Dear Secretary Sullivan:

WalkBoston has reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the MGM Springfield proposal and offers the comments below.

Within the DEIR, there are some changes in the dimensions of the plan. The proposal now includes a somewhat smaller, 501,108 square feet casino resort that includes retail/restaurant uses and banquet facilities in addition to gaming space. Adjacent to the casino will be a somewhat smaller 250­‐room hotel, 54 residential units, and an expanded, 159,397 SF retail and entertainment center to be known as Armory Square. A somewhat smaller, 3,740 space on-­site multi-­level parking garage will be provided. In most cases, these alterations to the plan do not appear to affect volumes or paths for walkers.

The ENF Certificate provided by Secretary Sullivan called out additional analysis to be included in the DEIR, and specified that the proponent was to meet with WalkBoston about our comments on the ENF. The Secretary’s Certificate included this language:

“I strongly encourage the proponent to consult with WalkBoston during the preparation of the DEIR to identify opportunities to enhance the development of pedestrian access to and within the site as well as incorporation of safe pedestrian access for off-­site roadway improvements.”

The proponent did meet with us to discuss the project, and were very forthcoming about the pedestrian components of the project. In our discussion we covered many of the ideas that now appear in the DEIR and have solidified the commitment to serving walkers in the project plans and designs.

Secretary Sullivan’s Certificate on the ENF mentioned some specific aspects to be explored further in the DEIR. These are important and form the basis of our comments on the DEIR:
1. Existing and proposed traffic signals.
2. Consistency with a Complete Streets design approach.
3. Existing and proposed connections for pedestrians.
4. A commitment to making improvements to increase the use of walking routes.

1. Existing and proposed traffic signals.
We are pleased to note that the DEIR calls for updating pedestrian signal equipment at the study area intersections around the site.

We note that two mid-­‐block crossings with refuge islands and flasher assemblies are proposed – one on State Street and the other on Union Street ‐ both roughly half way between Main Street and East Columbus Avenue and located at the exterior of the proponent’s site.

Another mid-­block crossing is noted in the DEIR that allows for a mid-­block crossing to reach a bus stop. This crossing is located on Main Street at Howard Street, and represents a response to one of WalkBoston’s recurring concerns ‐ that transit riders should not be required to walk to corner locations to reach a bus stop if the stop is mid-­block. Instead, crosswalks should be added to provide safe and convenient walking routes for transit users.

We encourage the efforts of the proponent to provide a diagonal pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Main and State Streets, where a direct connection to the Mass Mutual Convention Center may be of significant use. We hope that the City of Springfield will work with the proponent to establish this crossing.

The proponent vows to upgrade pedestrian push buttons to MUTCD standards at all locations where new signals will be installed as part of this project or the mitigation efforts that result from the construction of the project. Upgrades of pedestrian push buttons are very welcome as are any other forms of enhancements for pedestrians crossing streets on the perimeter of the project.

2. Consistency with a Complete Streets design approach.
The proponent has been mindful of the design of streets on the perimeter of the project. In particular, the width of sidewalks has been discussed and the design now provides positive benefits to walkers.

For example, sidewalks on Main Street, according to several of the maps, vary in width from 10.5’ to 18.’ On the widest sidewalks, there is the promise of added pedestrian amenities, such as benches, pedestrian level lighting landscaping and other streetscape improvements. The designs of the narrowest sidewalks should be carefully considered to provide a clear walk zone of at least 5 feet, with no obstructions, such as trees or benches, intruding on that width.

We note that the pedestrian network evaluation preceding design has led to proposed improvements to sidewalk pavement conditions, sidewalk widths, crosswalks, and compliance with current accessibility standards.

One of the requirements of a complete streets approach to street design is adequate provision for buses, bus stops and transit riders. In central Springfield, including Main Street along the east boundary of the site, heavy bus traffic (including four major PVTA bus routes) serves downtown employers and merchants and ordinarily occupies a lane that can be shared with bicycles, but should otherwise be retained for exclusive use by buses.

In addition to the PVTA bus routes, a proposed downtown trolley line will connect the casino site to rail and bus service in the vicinity of Union Station, about ½ mile north of this site. The trolley line makes the connection efficiently, and will encourage transit use by casino employees and patrons.

3. Existing and proposed connections for pedestrians.
The proposal includes several connections for pedestrians into the large complex, particularly along Main Street. The proponent has made progress is the design of the proposed Armory Plaza at the south edge of the casino building by providing a car-­free area that combines the open space surrounding the old, restored Armory building with the relatively small but useful open space of DaVinci Park. The use of the Plaza may be combined with the uses in the adjacent Armory Marketplace building and may host civic events and a farmers’ market.

A new pedestrian attraction is the provision of a landscaped plaza atop the casino building. This plaza is completely removed from vehicular traffic and provides a quiet space where people may walk or sit.

A pedestrian connection already exists between the site and the Connecticut River pedestrian and bicycle trail. An existing at-grade crossing at the foot of State Street allows pedestrians to move between the proponent’s site and the trail. It is anticipated that this connection will be used as a way to get from the site to the nearest open space. Lighting under I-­91 at State Street will help open the area to pedestrians by making it more legible and safe.

A similar pedestrian connection exists at Union Street, where the walkway link that passes under I-­91 allow pedestrians to reach the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The distance is relatively short and is eminently walkable. The connection will be improved by the proposed lighting to be placed under I-­91.

4. A commitment to making improvements to increase the use of walking routes.
The proponent’s site is central to the Springfield urban area and will become an integral part of downtown as it is developed. Within the site, there are many places to walk that may require little effort to get patrons to explore. Each entrance/exit to the site should have wayfinding signs to assist walkers and encourage them to walk to destinations within and outside the entertainment complex. The signs should indicate where to find locations such as the center of the casino, the hotel, the outdoor plaza, shops and theatres on the south side of the site, Former Armory, Armory Square Marketplace, the rooftop landscaped plaza, and the main entrances to the parking garage.

Outside the casino complex, there are many attractions in downtown Springfield, and wayfinding signs that guide walkers should include: the Mass Mutual Convention Center, Union Station/Main Bus Depot, Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden, Springfield Museums, the Civic Center, Springfield Armory, and nearby parks.

Signs should also indicate how to find the riverside attractions including views of the river and the Connecticut River Pedestrian and Bicycle Trail and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Wayfinding signs should include walking times to reach destinations. Pedestrians do not think in terms of miles, and minutes required to take a walk are much more effective in conveying the effort that might be involved. Walkers may think little of having to walk ten minutes, but recoil at the prospect of walking ½ mile, even though the distances are the same.

Specific wayfinding signs that should include walking information as well as vehicle and bicycle information are:
• Signs along West Columbus Avenue on the river-­facing side of the site,
• Signs on Union Street at the edge of the project, and
• Signs along the East Columbus Avenue side of the site.

Wayfinding can be enhanced with local walking maps that help people find their way around the site and its environs.

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.


Robert Sloane
Senior Project Manager

Christian Science Plaza Revitalization Project MEPA #14828

Christian Science Plaza Revitalization Project MEPA #14828

January 9, 2012

Richard K. Sullivan, Secretary
Executive Office of Energy and Environment
100 Cambridge St., 9th floor
Boston, MA 02114

RE: Christian Science Plaza Revitalization Project, MEPA #14828

Dear Secretary Sullivan:

WalkBoston is the Commonwealth’s leading advocate for pedestrians and safe walking. We work throughout the state encouraging walking, advocating for pedestrian improvements and working for design improvements. We have worked with over 65 communities throughout the state, helping residents and local government with pedestrian issues, safe routes to school, and safer street crossings.

The proponents of the Christian Science Plaza Revitalization have done a splendid job serving and welcoming the public to the plaza. The entire plaza is open to walkers and is a very special place to walk and enjoy the city. The rows of trees are well-maintained and are beautiful even in winter. The fountain in particular is a major attraction to people from the region. It is a wonderful spot that does double duty by providing significant summer service to children from all neighborhoods of Boston.

WalkBoston has many comments on the pedestrian street crossings at the edges of the site. Many of these work well, while some are not as safe for pedestrians as might be possible. For example, the intersection of Cumberland Street and Huntington Avenue is a signalized crossing that does not allow sufficient time for people to cross the street safely.

Thank you for the opportunity to common on this important project. We think it is a good project that could be even more pedestrian-friendly with some modifications to surrounding traffic signals. WalkBoston will continue to work with the city on this issue.


Wendy Landman                                    Robert Sloane
Executive Director                                  Senior Planner

Newton: Upper Falls Walking Map

Newton: Upper Falls Walking Map

A hidden mill village on the Charles River, Newton Upper Falls is tucked into a busy corner of the metropolitan area. On this walk you will see a potpourri of 18th- and 19th-century architecture, many charming hilly and curving streets, and a major National Historic Landmark–Echo Bridge over the Charles River’s Hemlock Gorge.

Upper Falls was settled at the largest falls on the Charles River. Native Americans discovered the falls and established fish weirs here to harvest eels and other freshwater fish. In 1688 John Clark bought rights to build at the falls from Chief Nahatan for £12 sterling. By 1813, when a cotton mill was installed, industrial buildings lined the gorge from the falls area to the newly built Worcester Turnpike (now Rte 9). Within 40 years 1/4th of Newton’s population lived and worked in Upper Falls. Today a large portion of the village is protected as an historic district. Of the 150 buildings that existed 100 years ago in Upper Falls, 118 still stand.

Click for “WalkBoston Upper Falls Newton Walking Map” on Google Maps

Arlington Walking Map

Arlington Walking Map

At first glance Arlington seems to be one more pleasant suburb of Boston—a good place to live without much for visitors to see. Not so. The town paid a pivotal role in the American Revolution, as this stroll down the popular new Minuteman Rail Trail and through the heart of town will reveal to you. Along the way you’ll also discover its appealing restaurants, retail shops, and pond-studded green space.

Arlington, once known as Menotomy (its Native American name), stepped into American history on April 19, 1775. On that date the townsfolk watched the main British force pass on their route to Concord. When lightly protected supply trains followed, Arlingtonians attacked. Their rewards were the first British prisoners and stores captured in the Revolution. More than half of the casualties that day took place on this portion of the historic battle road.

Several buildings dating from the Revolutionary War period remain—surrounded now by an active, lively urban community.

WalkBoston’s Arlington Walking Map on Google Maps

Click for “WalkBoston’s Arlington Walking Map” on Google Maps