Comments on General Electric Headquarters Project SEIR 15547

Comments on General Electric Headquarters Project SEIR 15547

January 20, 2017

Matthew Beaton, Secretary
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: MEPA Office
Analyst: Alex Strysky
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

Re: General Electric Headquarters Project SEIR 15547

Dear Secretary Beaton,

WalkBoston submitted comments on the EA for this project in September, 2016. We made a
number of suggestions about specific improvements that we believe the Proponent might make
themselves, or work with the City to secure, in order to assure comfortable and safe access to and
through the site.

We believe that the GE Headquarters will add vitality and opportunity to the Fort Point Channel neighborhood and to Boston. But, we feel that there is considerable work still required to improve access to the site for the vast majority of employees and visitors who will be arriving on foot.

Necco Street: It appeared to us from the drawings provided in the EA that the sidewalk was to be widened to 12’ in some areas, but narrowed to allow for vehicular drop-off at the main entrance.
The response in Comment 8.4 was that the designs would in keeping with the guidelines of Boston Complete Streets, which calls for a minimum of 8’ wide sidewalks in Downtown Commercial or Mixed-use Districts. Based on further conversations with the project team we are reassured that
the sidewalk at the entrance will largely meet that minimum standard. We hope that the proponent will also:

• Ensure that the narrower portions of the sidewalk not be encumbered with street
furniture or signage and thus remain unobstructed for walkers; and
• Create the pull-outs for vehicle drop-off in locations that are offset from the building
entrances so that there is ample space for people entering and leaving the buildings.

Necco Street Crosswalk: In Comment 8.7 we asked if there would be a crosswalk from the
Headquarters Building to the Necco Street Parking Garage. The following response was provided that does not answer the question: “The project incorporates substantial sidewalk improvements and pedestrian ramping to accommodate ADA compliant crossings.” Since the garage is likely to attract many people going to the GE building, a crosswalk aligned with its single entrance would seem to be appropriate

Accessible Routes to the Site: Comments 8.8, 8.9, 8.10 and 8.11 asked that the Proponent work
with the City and with other property owners in the neighborhood to improve the walking route
from South Station to the site via Summer Street, particularly for people with disabilities who will
not be able to use the stairway that connects Summer Street to the Harborwalk and then to the
main entrance of this project. The response provided in the EA was, ”The Proponents cannot
orchestrate improvements off the Project Site.”

WalkBoston’s comments were made because along the direct route from the Proponent’s main entrance to Summer Street there is no complete or accessible sidewalk. With a projected 70% mode share of walk and transit trips (which are thus also walking trips) this issue deserves careful attention. We believe that GE is very interested in working to remedy this situation in concert with the City and with its new neighbors. We urge GE to work with the City to solve this accessibility
problem before construction is completed on the Headquarters.

We look forward to working with GE and the City to ensure that pedestrians find a safe, accessible and inviting environment on and around GE’s Headquarters.

We appreciate your consideration of our comments and your responses to them.

Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with questions you may have.

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Cc Peter Cavanaugh, GE Project Manager
Elizabeth Grob, VHB Project Manager
Chris Osgood, Boston Chief of Streets

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