Tag: assembly row

Comment Letter RE: MEPA 16015 Mystic River Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossing

Comment Letter RE: MEPA 16015 Mystic River Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossing

May 13, 2019

Kathleen Theoharides
Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs 100 Cambridge St., Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: MEPA 16015 Mystic River Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossing

Dear Ms. Theoharides:

WalkBoston has worked closely with other community and advocacy groups in support of this proposed bridge over the Mystic River. Because of its critical location at the junction of several lengthy riverside paths, it is of regional significance as a key element in the area’s network of pedestrian and bicycle thoroughfares – a system of facilities that WalkBoston has long supported. The critical nature of the connection is magnified by its potential service as a major walkway between a high traffic generating facility (the casino in Everett) and public transportation (the Assembly Station in Somerville). This new walkway will provide a three- minute walk to public transit (as opposed to a twelve-minute existing walk) and encourage a reduced amount of vehicular traffic in the area.

The Casino operators have supported the proposed bridge with investments of $2,000,000 to date, and have committed to help with further capital funding. We are grateful for this assistance and hope that this provision of private funding will encourage the state to fund a portion of the capital costs, giving the project a higher priority than it now has.

We were surprised that the proposed bridge width has been reduced from 15 feet to 12 feet. Given the impending opening of the casino, the bridge will see a great deal of use by cyclists and walkers who need to share the limited space. Nearly all other pedestrian bridges recently built or under construction by MassDOT exceed this reduced width, adopting a standard that is 14′ or wider. We urge you to adopt the more generous standard that reflects the design standards for 21st century bike and pedestrian bridges. When it is constructed, the bridge will be the only safe, off-road non-vehicular connection between North Shore communities and Boston.


Stacey Beuttell
Deputy Executive Director

Comment letter on Waterways Application #W18-5358: Proposed bike/ped path from 80 Alford St/Route 99 to Draw Seven Park Ch 91 license

Comment letter on Waterways Application #W18-5358: Proposed bike/ped path from 80 Alford St/Route 99 to Draw Seven Park Ch 91 license

January 24, 2019

Jerome Grafe
MassDEP Waterways Program
1 Winter Street, 5th floor
Boston, MA 02108

RE: Waterways Application # W18-5358: Proposed bike/ped path from 80 Alford St/Route 99 to Draw Seven Park Ch 91 license

Dear Jerome,

WalkBoston is excited to hear of the proposal for a new bike/ped path connecting Draw Seven Park in Somerville to Route 99 in Boston/Charlestown. This path, atop the new MBTA sea wall at 80 Alford Street, will be a terrific boon to the Mystic River path network.

We support the Friends of the Community Path (FCP) and the Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP) in asking for the following revisions to the proposed path design:

  1. Widen the path from 10’ to 12’-14’ wherever possible.
  2. Ensure that the path design will be harmonious with the ongoing Mystic River bike/ped bridge design, so that there will be an appropriate path connection to the future Mystic River bike/ped bridge at the Draw Seven Park edge of the MBTA busway property.
  3. Ensure that the path design does not preclude a signalized crosswalk over Route 99 for safe bike/ped access to Ryan Playground, the Schraffts building, and the Boston Harborwalk. Plans for a safe bike/ped crossing at this location will also need to take future roadway projects on Rutherford Avenue into account.
  4. Connect the path to one of the public roads (Beacham Street or Moosal Place/Sherman Street) that connect to Broadway, so that pedestrians and cyclists need not go all the way to Assembly Square and then turn back in order to reach Broadway.

We also support FCP and STEP’s call for a public meeting about this proposal. Given that this path will be an important link in the Mystic River path network, many stakeholders and members of the public have a compelling interest in these issues. WalkBoston looks forward to continued engagement to ensure that this critical path connection moves forward.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Comment on EENF for The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly

Comment on EENF for The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly

November 23, 2016

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

RE: EENF for The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly – MEPA #15595

Dear Mr. Beaton,

WalkBoston is a 501©(3) non-profit, pedestrian advocacy organization that makes walking safer and easier in Massachusetts. We have reviewed the EENF and offer the comments below.

The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly is located on a 9-acre site at 5 Middlesex Avenue, Somerville, in close walking proximity to Assembly Station and to existing residential areas of East Somerville. It is planned to become an integral feature of the massive developments already taking shape in Assembly Square. Phase 1 of the proposed Project includes a 188-room hotel, and a 147-unit residential building with 6,000 sf of retail space on the ground floor. Later phases will include offices and residential units. The total space to be constructed within the site may reach 2,000,000 sq ft.

We are concerned that the proponent has not offered significant changes to the walking environment, except on its own site. The nearby Kensington Underpass, one of two connections between residential Somerville and the many worksites and attractions, should become its focus for improvements. The proponent has suggested a U-turn that would complicate pedestrian crossings at the underpass. The proponent should be required to develop improvements for pedestrians and vehicles at the underpass in an integrated way.

Recognizing the advantages of being located in the large Assembly Square complex of developments, the proponent notes that walking and bicycling through Assembly Square and on the paths along the Mystic River will be encouraged. The proponent also emphasizes the access provided to the site by public transportation not only at the new Orange Line rapid transit station, but also on bus lines located nearby on Route 38 and on Broadway in East Somerville. Access to public transit gives significant advantages to the proponent’s proposed complex of both office and residential units that can take advantage of the transportation services concentrated in the environs.

The proponent’s plan includes on-site pedestrian facilities and a plaza in the center of the development. The proponent vows that improvements to pedestrian and bicycling facilities will ensure security and comfort for those walking and biking. Part of these improvements will be a significant wayfinding element that will direct site visitors and users toward significant destinations, show walking times, and including public transportation services. The proponent also hopes to link the fabric of this new district to neighboring East Somerville.

The Assembly Square complex has already established pedestrian facilities throughout the property and highlights the riverside park and paths that make up a substantial pedestrian network. The proponent’s site will be able to take advantage of those improvements and link into them at appropriate locations.

The basic link between this site and East Somerville is the neglected underpass of I-93 at Kensington Street, which has not been updated since the construction of the highway. The proponent should take a leading role in the upgrading of this underpass, to bring to life the proponent’s laudable goal of a more appropriate connection into the surrounding community. Improvements to the underpass would bring about:
1. Improved pedestrian connections from East Somerville into the Assembly Square shopping area to reach proliferating new shopping, entertainment and work locations.
2. Improved pedestrian connections from the East Somerville neighborhoods to the new Orange Line rapid transportation station at Assembly Square.
3. A wayfinding network for pedestrians finding their way into and through the complex set of developments at Assembly Square.
4. Improved pedestrian connections both from Assembly Square as well as the East Somerville neighborhoods to the public transportation routes along Route 38, where bus stops are closer than the Assembly Square Orange Line Station.
5. Clear routes for access from Assembly Square to the major grocery store as well as commercial and public sites such as the library along Broadway in East Somerville.
6. A walking route for residents of East Somerville and people in Assembly Square for recreation and healthy daily activities.
7. Implementation of major goals of the City of Somerville’s “Somervision” program which looks to increase active and alternative transportation options, reduce congestion and promote workplace- and business-based policies and incentives to encourage changes in more choice and to expand bike, pedestrian and public transit use.

Improving the Kensington Underpass by itself is insufficient to protect users. The underpass, which connects East Somerville to Assembly Square near the intersection of McGrath Highway, Fellsway, Route 38 and the I-93 southbound onramp, has two at-grade street crossings where pedestrians must cross heavily traveled routes. The two crossings have painted crosswalks and pedestrian-actuated yellow flashing warning lights. More detailed analysis should be undertaken to assess the current levels of safety for people crossing at this location. Projections of future pedestrian traffic should be undertaken to analyze whether what level of additional safety measures might be appropriate.

Of special concern is the proposal by the proponent of this project that there should be a U-turn that would allow traffic from Assembly Square and this project to use the westbound service road along I-93 (called Bailey Road) to reach a point where it could u-turn into the eastbound service road near Route 28 to provide better access from Assembly Square to I-93 southbound. This would, according to the proponent help by “allowing vehicles to bypass two signals, thereby alleviating congestion.”  The U-turn would provide, in essence, a fourth option for exiting the complex and reaching I-93 southbound.

However, with the addition of this U-turn, people trying to cross at the Kensington Underpass crosswalk will always be faced with oncoming traffic at both eastbound and westbound service roads leading into and out of the U-turn. The addition of traffic to the two service roads is a problem for the pedestrians using existing Kensington underpass should be analyzed in terms of any improvements that may be made to increase its use.

Several options might be explored to alleviate this difficulty. One would be to reduce both service roads on either side of I-93 to one lane, so that drivers would not be tempted to bypass a driver who is yielding to a pedestrian in the crosswalk. That option might be sufficient to retain the un-signalized crosswalk.

We appreciate your consideration of our comments.

Best regards,

Bob Sloane
Senior Planner

Brendan Kearney
Communications Manager

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