Tag: ADA Standards

Comments on ENF for 33-61 Temple Street, Beacon Hill

Comments on ENF for 33-61 Temple Street, Beacon Hill

May 31, 2016

Christopher Tracy
Boston Redevelopment Authority
Boston City Hall
1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201

Re: Expanded Project Notification Form for 33‐61 Temple Street, Beacon Hill

Dear Mr. Tracy,

WalkBoston appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Expanded Project Notification Form for 33-61 Temple Street in Beacon Hill. We are commenting because of concern about pedestrian issues associated with this project.

We appreciate that the project will add residential units that meet ADA standards for accessible buildings. We also agree that replacing the non-conforming academic use of the structures will improve the neighborhood by reducing street activities related to the arrival and departure of students. We anticipate that the new residents will enjoy the environmental benefits of the shared street that services their building.

In addition, replacing the façade of the more modern Donahue Building will clearly benefit the historic appearance of the Beacon Hill neighborhood and mesh the project more closely with the architecturally­‐significant structures that surround it. Wind and shadow impacts appear to be minimal.

This proposal capitalizes on a very centrally‐located site. The existing buildings to be redeveloped are located at the edge of historic Beacon Hill, across the street from the Massachusetts State House, and just a few minutes walking distance from the center of downtown Boston. The area is well-­served by public transportation – indeed, stations on all four of the MBTA’s subway lines are within a walking distance of 10‐15 minutes. Six bus lines are nearby. As a result, many future residents will be able to commute to work and walk to many neighborhood destinations without the need for public transportation or motor vehicles.

Notwithstanding the transit-­served and walkable setting of the site, the project is quite auto-­centric. In a densely built downtown neighborhood that is one of the premier walking neighborhoods in the United States, the project proposes adding 60 parking spaces for the proposed 75 units in the two buildings. As a result of this project, 60 parking spaces will be added to a street where there are none at all at present. These parked vehicles will require access via Temple Street, which was formally designated a pedestrian street in 1970 by Mayor Kevin White and Governor Michael Dukakis, with an added designation as Temple Walk in 1977. Since its designation as a pedestrian street, parking on the street has been removed, sidewalks have been widened, alternating sides of the street have a flush curb between the sidewalk and roadway. Landscaping has been added, and residents have enjoyed the environmental benefits of a prescient plan for what is now called a shared street. On shared streets, pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles all have equal rights to the street space. Vehicles must proceed slowly, parking is nonexistent or very limited, and walking or biking on the street is very pleasurable and deemed to be safe for all.

WalkBoston recommends significantly reducing the number of on-­site parking spaces
The principal concern is that the addition of these spaces will tip the current carefully balanced pedestrian-­vehicle use of the street and make the space less pleasant for walkers. On-­site parking is an expectation that has been challenged successfully elsewhere in the city and should be challenged here.

WalkBoston suggests that the planned number of parking spaces should be reduced. Several options should be explored:

Eliminate all parking within the building. The development of Lovejoy Wharf in the North End of downtown Boston pioneered the elimination of on-­site parking for residential development with close and excellent mass transit and with nearby garages for off-­site parking.

Reduce the presumed demand for parking by reducing the number of residential units in the building or simply reduce the ratio of parking spaces/unit.

Improve services for residents and thus reduce any residual demand for vehicles. An extensive row of bicycle racks are proposed for the building and bike-­sharing appears to be a real possibility. Car-­sharing providers such as Zipcar or Enterprise Rent-­A-­Car space should be included within the garage.

Work with the owners of nearby garages to arrange for the rental or purchase of parking spaces for those residents who determine that they need to own a car.

Thank you for your consideration of our comments.


Robert Sloane
Senior Planner




Comments on Copley Place Expansion, Boston, MA

Comments on Copley Place Expansion, Boston, MA

March 5, 2015
Attn: Christopher Tracy, BRA

RE: Comments on Copley Place Expansion, Boston, MA

WalkBoston submits the following comments on the Copley Place Expansion project design, with a focus on the pedestrians and community design aspects. The expansion to Copley Place will have significant impacts on future pedestrian activity in the project area, which attracts many pedestrians because of numerous hotels, Back Bay Station, Copley Square, the Farmer’s Market, the Public Library, etc. Now is the time and opportunity to make it more pleasant and safer for them. The pedestrian aspects of the site will play an extremely important role in the way the project meshes with its surroundings and with all modes of traffic.

We submit our comments despite the lack of community opportunity to see the plans ahead of time or to have adequate opportunity for input. It might be very useful for community groups to have another opportunity to view the plans.

Intersection of Dartmouth and Stuart Streets
With appropriate signal timing, the changes proposed for this intersection will make it much easier, more direct and safer for pedestrians to cross. It is essential that the WALK – Don’t WALK signals at this intersection be timed for concurrent walk, as they are currently. With these changes, there will no longer be frustrating waits for pedestrians on medians, as the crossings are direct and narrower. As we understand this particular design, it was first proposed and tested in 1995 and found to work well for both traffic and pedestrians. We trust that its basic elements are included in the present plan.

The Southwest Corridor Park
Our understanding is that the plan presented for the street level pedestrian crossing of Dartmouth Street, at the end of the Southwest Corridor Park, is essentially unchanged from the original design. The present excellent signal timing appears to efficiently handle traffic from all modes. This signal timing should be retained and the crossing widened.

The proponent should respect the history of the Southwest Corridor Park in the improvements that are proposed. One approach would be the inclusion near the entrance to the walkways of an 8’x4’ enamel plaque such as the one at Roxbury Crossing, giving the history of the Southwest Corridor project and sites of interest in the vicinity of Copley Place.

Sidewalk along Dartmouth Street at Copley Place
In the vicinity of this project, no sidewalk should be less than 12 feet wide, unobstructed. The best example is the sidewalk that now exists along the façade of Neiman Marcus. Since it is adjacent to the sidewalk, the proposed “winter garden” should supplement pedestrian movements at the edge of the site and be genuinely public, open 24 hours, guaranteed by a legal commitment with consequences for violations.

There should continue to be outside seating, preferably using the same benches, positioned 2 for conversation. The current gradually ramped approach from Dartmouth into the building should be retained and not replaced by steps.

Mass Turnpike exit ramp
WalkBoston requests that the exit from this ramp provide warnings or restrictions so that Turnpike drivers are slowed as they come into this urban area with many pedestrians. These might include painting lanes so that only one lane of cars will exit, adding rumble strips across the roadway or blinking signs inside the tunnel warning Turnpike drivers of their upcoming exit into a busy pedestrian area. The 25 mph warning signs installed some 15 years ago are not emphatic enough to slow cars.

Loop turn for vehicles at the end of the Westin Hotel
WalkBoston supports the narrowing of the loop turn from Huntington to Stuart at the end of the Westin. This improvement results in the elimination of the left turn lane on Huntington and the expansion of the island. It should be designed to be a pleasant park-like area with signs minimized or relocated.

Exeter/Stuart/Huntington/Marriott garage area
As we have previously commented, much more work is needed on the Exeter/Stuart/Huntington/Marriott garage area— implementation of better signal timing, narrowing roadway widths and shortening pedestrian crossings. The blocks of Huntington/Stuart from Mass Ave to Clarendon were widened in the 1960s auto era, and are now too wide open for this dense urban area. Their width and layout encourage traffic to speed and endanger pedestrians. This project should make the cross-section of the street narrower as has been done outbound on Huntington Avenue at Mass. Ave. and on inbound Stuart Street at Clarendon Street.

Harcourt/Huntington/Ring Road intersection
The Harcourt/Huntington/Ring Road intersection should be reshaped and re-signaled, especially since increased volumes of traffic will be using Harcourt Street for access to the proponent’s garage.

Sidewalk and crosswalk materials
All materials used for sidewalks and crosswalks should adhere to standards that have been established under ADA. All sidewalks should be constructed of concrete, using bricks, if desired, only for decoration because of the walking difficulties and hazards they create. Crosswalks in particular should be marked by striping, not pavers, on the roadway pavement. Pavers are hazardous for the disability community, parents with strollers, women with high heels and the elderly.

We urge the City to address these concerns by insisting that the developer show good faith in solving the issues raised by residents of neighboring area. Please feel free to contact us with questions you may have.


Robert Sloane               Ann Hershfang
Senior Planner              Board Member, South End Resident