Comments on the ENF for “The Point”

Comments on the ENF for “The Point”

March 16, 2015

Secretary Matthew A. Beaton
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: Deirdre Buckley, Director, MEPA Office
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: Environmental Notification Form
The Point, Boston

Dear Secretary Beaton and Director Buckley:

WalkBoston has reviewed the ENF for the license of DCR right-of-way to the developer of The Point for streetscape improvements. We applaud the effort by both public and private entities to improve the pedestrian environment and traffic safety in this rapidly developing area and want to ensure that development occurs in accordance with the city’s 2013 Complete Streets Guidelines. Our comments focus on the pedestrian environment and the need to integrate the project into its surroundings.

  1. We support replacing the current pedestrian island and free-flowing right turn lane with a landscaped plaza. Eliminating free flowing right turns will improve pedestrian safety and comfort. However, right turn traffic from Boylston St onto Brookline must be handled very carefully, with appropriate signage reminding drivers of their obligation to yield to pedestrians when turning, and as the intersection will remain large and complex, accommodations for visually impaired pedestrians including audible beacons to assist with orientation are crucial. The end of the plaza must have adequate space for a large number of pedestrians to wait for a walk signal, and signals should be timed to minimize queuing, particularly in conjunction with Fenway Park events.
  2. The removal of existing sidewalk parking (on both DCR and private property) along Boylston St to create a connected and well-maintained sidewalk will provide substantial benefits.
  3. The potential improvements that this project can bring to the area are substantial.The proposed development should follow City of Boston guidelines for the creation of wide sidewalks (as recommended in the Fenway-Longwood-Kenmore Transportation and Pedestrian Safety Action Plan). The new sidewalks are part of a long-range plan to change the overall design of buildings along Boylston Street and to provide a standard street wall of setbacks on the Boylston Street and Brookline Avenue frontages. The plan calls for wide sidewalks to alleviate the significant pedestrian congestion that results from games and other events at nearby Fenway Park, which is one-half block away.

The Proposed Conditions figure in the ENF shows a sidewalk surface that is only 5’ wide. This is not sufficient for the existing volume of traffic, much less for the increased foot traffic that is anticipated with the ongoing redevelopment of the area including The Point. The Boston Complete Streets Guidelines call for a preferred sidewalk width of at least 18’6” in a “downtown mixed use” zone, including at least a 10’ wide pedestrian zone. Every effort should be made to maximize usable sidewalk width to accommodate the anticipated volume of pedestrian traffic as well as meeting the needs of pedestrians with disabilities.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on this aspect of this important project. We regret having missed the notification of the recently approved Notice of Project Change, but do feel that concerns with sidewalk width and traffic flow as it impacts pedestrians can still be addressed within the context of this license. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with questions you may have.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Heather Strassberger, AICP
Project Manager

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