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.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

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