Tag: 244-284 A Street

WalkBoston, LivableStreets, Boston Cyclists Union Comments 244 – 284 A Street “Channelside” PNF

WalkBoston, LivableStreets, Boston Cyclists Union Comments 244 – 284 A Street “Channelside” PNF

October 9, 2020

Director Brian Golden
Boston Planning and Development Agency
Attn via email: Aisling Kerr

Secretary Kathleen A. Theoharides
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn via email: Alexander Strysky

Re: Comment on 244 – 284 A Street “Channelside” PNF

Dear Director Golden and Secretary Theoharides:

WalkBoston, LivableStreets Alliance and the Boston Cyclists Union are Boston’s leading advocates for active transportation and transit access. We frequently provide comments on major public and private development and infrastructure projects, with a focus on how those projects serve and affect people walking, biking and taking transit.

We realize that these comments are arriving at MEPA after the due date. However, the City’s transportation focused project meeting occurred on September 16, and it’s urban design and resiliency meeting was held on October 7 and we felt that the content of these meetings was important to our understanding of the project. 

The development of the 244 – 284 A Street site along the Fort Point Channel will transform a large and unattractive parking lot into a major site for living, working, and enjoying the Harbor Walk and the large new open spaces that are planned. In a broad sense we believe that the scale and mix of uses is reasonable for the growing mixed-use neighborhood around it, and that the plan for most of the project’s users to access the site on foot, by transit or by bike is appropriate and absolutely necessary for the City to decrease its dependence on private vehicles with their intensive congestion and environmental impacts.

We believe that it is incumbent on the Developer and the City to work together to make sure that the site design, the mitigation and transportation access agreement committed to by the Developer, and the planning and implementation of City transportation improvements (some requiring the City to work with the MBTA, MassDOT and MassPort) are in place to ensure that the site and its surroundings work well for people walking, biking and taking transit.

Our comments therefore are directed jointly to the Developer and the City. We understand that the responsibility of the Proponent to remedy (some of) the off-site issues will be in the form of mitigation dollars rather than execution, so we urge the City to immediately take the steps necessary to plan and design the needed improvements and then include an appropriate contribution from the Proponent in its negotiations.

Project Site Plan

  • Explore reducing the amount of space devoted to vehicles within the site plan by removing Wormwood Street extension.
  • Rationalize bike routes (see comments below)
  • Describe mix of open space uses and include active uses such as playgrounds, basketball etc. to help create a true neighborhood not a “front door” to commercial use


As the Fort Point Channel area and the City’s “100-acre” plan district are developing into a significant residential and commercial neighborhood dependent on good transit and walking access, the need to address accessibility has become ever more evident. 

Walking route from South Station to the site – With a projected 70% mode share of walk and transit trips (which are thus also walking trips) this issue deserves careful attention. Improving 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 is critical. We understand that the City has begun to look at these issues and request that information about the planned improvements be included in the next project filings for Channelside.

  • There is no curb ramp provided from Dorchester Avenue onto the Summer Street Bridge (south side of the bridge). A fully accessible curb ramp should be provided.
  • Accessible access from Summer Street will need to be provided via Melcher Street.  The sidewalk along the south side of Melcher Street appears to have an excessive cross slope that is hazardous for persons with disabilities, and difficult for anyone pushing a stroller or pulling a suitcase. This cross slope will need to be fixed. The slope of the sidewalk exceeds a safe path of travel and may require the addition of several “landing areas” to the sidewalk.  

Walking route from Broadway to the site

  • Walking access to the site from South Boston and Broadway Station via A Street and West 2nd Street also requires accessibility upgrades including curb ramps, sidewalk repair, and possible widening of the sidewalk where the path of travel is narrowed by hydrants, street light poles etc.

Winter weather conditions and general maintenance

  • Management and operations planning should ensure good snow clearance between the site and South Station along the Harborwalk and the sidewalks of Necco and Melcher Streets, and between Broadway and the site. The proponent should work with adjacent property owners and business associations to assure good access to its site under winter weather conditions.

A Street Walking, Biking and Transit Improvements 

A Street is the “Main Street” of this part of Boston and needs to be safe and inviting for all street users. Balancing the needs of people walking, biking and taking transit with those of the cars and trucks using the street is a balancing act that has not yet been achieved. 

Calming A Street for everyone – This will be a first step to turning A Street into a main street and a number of approaches should be used including:

  • Improve the safety of street crossings with the addition of bumpouts, signals (where needed), parking and loading restrictions to ensure daylighting of crosswalks, etc.
  • Narrow travel lanes, add separated bike lanes, restrict parking to protect bus stops, provide bus shelters etc.
  • Add landscaping and benches

Improved Transit + Curbside Management: A Street serves as a critical transit connection between South Boston and South Station and will need to serve many more people as the neighborhood continues to evolve and grow. The City should explore implementing several of the below interventions to improve transit + curbside management: 

  • Work with the MBTA to determine the best bus priority interventions for current and future bus service. These may include a dedicated bus lane, cue jumps and/or transit signal priority. 
  • Improve the accessibility and comfort of existing bus stops on the corridor. 
  • Develop a curb management plan that includes designated loading zones for trucks, taxis + TNC services. The City should also explore time of day loading restrictions, in order to limit or eliminate loading activities along the corridor during peak travel hours. 

Provide Safe and Comfortable Bike Network Connections to and through the site. We appreciate the intention to provide a bike connection to the South Bay Harbor trail, Harbor trail and A Street through the site. However, these connections as they are currently described  are disjointed and potentially dangerous, especially at intersections and areas where cyclists and vehicles  mix. 

  • Weaving the bicycle connection to the South Bay Harbor Trail through the site creates multiple potential conflict points at Necco Street and on the Wormwood extension. A more direct connection on Binford Street may be preferable and should be explored in addition to ensuring there are safe bicycle accommodations on both Necco and Binford Street. 
  • Given the above mentioned transit and large truck uses on A Street, a more detailed plan for how cyclists will safely travel from the site to A Street is needed – specifically at the Binford Street and A Street intersection. 
  • Eliminating the Wormwood extension removes another potential point of conflict both along the street and at the A Street intersection.  

We look forward to working with Proponent and the City as the project planning and design continue.


Stacey Beuttell
Executive Director, WalkBoston

Stacy Thompson
Executive Director, Livable Streets Alliance

Becca Wolfson
Executive Director, Boston Cyclists Union