Comment Letter Re: 40 Roland Street

Comment Letter Re: 40 Roland Street

August 25, 2022 

Sarah Black

RE: WalkBoston Comments on 40 Roland Street Supplemental Filing

Dear Ms. Black:

WalkBoston has reviewed the revised 40 Roland Street project and attended the public meeting held on August 15th.

We believe that the project will improve the walking environment in this portion of Charlestown, which is currently neither attractive nor comfortable and safe for people walking. In order to successfully execute this very large development project, the development team has committed to investments in both the public realm and pedestrian safety. We are pleased to see these initial commitments.

We have several comments that we would like to see addressed in the next iteration of the design and permitting process.

Walking Safety and Connections

The connection between this portion of Charlestown, west of I-93, with the rest of the neighborhood requires walking along Cambridge Street, and underneath I-93. On the south side of the street, pedestrians must cross the exit ramp from northbound I-93. Whether walking between the development sites and Sullivan Square MBTA Station or the heart of the Charlestown neighborhood, people walking will be confronted with both significant streets and intersections and an unpleasant under-highway walking environment.

Walking along and crossing Cambridge Street in the project’s immediate vicinity is also in need of significant improvements. 

With the project’s deep reliance on walking and transit (which of course also includes walking) as it’s primary transportation modes (75%+ of all trips per slide #57 from the presentation), we urge the developers to work with the City of Boston and MassDOT to create a detailed and specific investment plan to improve all of these elements of the walking environment. This should include walking along Cambridge Street, crossing Cambridge Street and crossing the base of the I-93 ramp. If improvements are made to these areas to prioritize people walking, then the residents and workers occupying the development’s buildings can truly become a part of the Charlestown community.

Multi-Modal Path Connection

We are very pleased that the development team has committed to including the path along the southern edge of the 40 Roland Street property which will be a part of the Mystic to Charles off-road multi-modal path network. The potential exists for the path to provide an important transportation connection for the project.

We request that the development benefits include a commitment to design and fund (at least some portion) extending the path through the small triangle of MBTA-owned land to meet and cross Cambridge Street.  This will entail working closely with the MBTA and the City. Given the extent of site work and excavation that the 40 Roland Street project will require, this opportunity to help complete this short portion of the multi-modal path will have a minimal impact on the project budget, but will provide essential connections for people walking and biking to the site.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. 

Wendy Landman
Senior Policy Advisor, WalkBoston

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