Tag: Assembly Square

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.

Sincerely,

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

————————————————————————————————
Join WalkBoston’s Mailing List to keep up to date on advocacy issues.

Like our work? Support WalkBoston – Donate Now!
Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook

Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Wynn Everett, MEPA #15060

Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Wynn Everett, MEPA #15060

February 10, 2014

Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
Attn: Anne Canaday
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

RE: Comments on the EIR for Wynn Everett, MEPA #15060

Dear Secretary Sullivan:

WalkBoston offers the following comments on the Wynn Everett Draft Environmental Impact Report. While we are pleased to see that the DEIR includes the proposal for the harbor walk and water transportation docking facilities, we are concerned about the traffic impacts and the lack of sufficient preparation for pedestrian access to the site. Improved pedestrian access is crucial to encouraging transit use as a significant travel choice for both employees and patrons.

Our comments are organized around two key issues: (1) enhancing and encouraging walking and transit, (2) mitigating the impacts of auto trips.

Enhancing and encouraging walking and transit
An Everett casino should be viewed through the lens of an urban re-development project that fits within its neighborhood and enhances the lives of its neighbors as well as its patrons and employees. In order to do that, the development should maximize the number of transit and walking trips, and minimize the number of auto trips.

1. Transit access and emphasis.
As currently planned, primary subway transit access will be provided by the Orange Line Sullivan Square MBTA Station which is about .75 miles from the site. Transit stations at Wellington and Assembly Square are each over 1.5 miles from the site, and currently have indirect, time-consuming pedestrian routes to the proposed casino. Transit should be encouraged through a number of different carrots and sticks.

• Bus service should be enhanced by improving nearby bus stops or providing subsidies to provide additional service for nearby routes. The safe use of bus stops on the far side of Route 99 is especially important to consider; the proponent should assure that there are traffic signals at all bus stops to provide safe passage for pedestrians crossing at these locations.

• Providing an off-site, transit-convenient and/or shuttle-served location for parking used by the majority of employees is one important option. The connection of proponent- or operator-controlled shuttles to these locations will reduce the impact of vehicles at the access points into the site. To attract patrons to use the bus, the proponent may want to experiment with shuttles that are attractive and “fun.”

• The proponent has included shuttle buses to nearby subway stations and to offsite parking lots. Frequency of the proposed service should allow Orange Line and bus riders to be served within very short (maximum 15-minute) wait times. All shuttle services should be made free for employees and patrons.

• The proponent and operator of the casino should price parking spaces to discourage parking during all times of day and evening during which transit service is available.

• Carpooling should be encouraged and subsidized for employees who live outside the MBTA service area or who work late-night shifts.

• The proponent should subsidize ferry services to make use of the proposed water transportation facility.

• The proponent should establish a transportation management organization that can efficiently deal with transit encouragement through subsidized transit passes, and other means that encourage the use of transit.

• Monitoring and reporting on the successes of the proponent and operator of the site in reducing vehicular traffic should be undertaken on an annual basis for the first 10 years of use of the new facilities.

2. Pedestrian access improvements
• Significant improvement of pedestrian access to Sullivan Station should be included in the proponent’s transportation mitigation plan. Access for pedestrians along Lower Broadway remains a concern. When Route 99/Broadway was reconstructed by the state, new bicycle lanes were added in both directions, but the existing sidewalks were narrowed to permit expansion for other transportation modes. The proponent should detail the ways in which sidewalks will be upgraded for pedestrian access into the site. Improved sidewalk access should extend at least as far as the MBTA Sullivan Square Station, which will require the proponent to work closely with the City of Boston.

• The new intersections serving the site should be carefully planned to include safety measures for pedestrian crossings. This should include pedestrian phase timing at these and other signalized intersections constructed or modified as part of the proposal.

• The potential new pedestrian and bicycle connection that the proponent proposes to create an approximately .75 mile direct route between the site and Santilli Circle – is intended to encourage pedestrian traffic. The proponent should be required to continue its work with the DCR and the MBTA to assure that this very short, relatively inexpensive connection actually gets constructed. The proponent should promote use of this route to encourage its use.

• A connection between the site and the City of Somerville could be provided by access over the Amelia Earhart Dam. This connection would lead to both the new Assembly Square MBTA Station and to the Somerville/Charlestown Mystic River path network. A connection across the dam could make the Assembly Square station the closest transit access point for the site. The proponent should work with the cities, as well as the DCR and the MBTA (owners of the land) to see whether this long sought pedestrian amenity that would link the extensive riverfront path networks on the two sides of the river, could be provided by the project.

• A concept plan for the streetscape in Everett has been mentioned. We trust that the plan, if developed, will be generous in its recommendations for pedestrian access.

Mitigating/managing the impacts of auto trips
We are concerned that the location of the site and its considerable distance from centers of population and regional transit stations will result in motor vehicles providing the majority of the access to the site, as the proponent has stated. The emphasis on access for vehicular traffic via Broadway leads to potentially difficult traffic concentrations – not only for Broadway, but also for Sullivan Square and the Sweetser Circle at Route 99/16. Both of these locations are already challenged by daily traffic patterns and the addition of casino traffic would seem to bring new and extensive challenges.

All of the access via Sullivan Square will deeply affect the Charlestown neighborhood and its plans for improvements at Sullivan Square. The proponent should work closely with residents of Charlestown and the City of Boston to reach an improved understanding of potential traffic volumes and impacts and the methods that might be used to partially mitigate the effects on the neighborhood. This should include traffic data collection and analysis, and detailed work with the City of Boston to review and assess all options for mitigating the impacts that casino related traffic will have on city streets, intersections and sidewalks. A community agreement between the City of Boston and the proponent should be reached prior to further planning.

Thank you for considering our comments. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Robert Sloane
Senior Project Manager

 

——————————————————————————————————————-
Join our Mailing List to keep up to date on advocacy issues.

Like our work? Support WalkBoston – Donate Now!
Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook

Comments on the Expanded Environmental Notification Form for Wynn Everett

Comments on the Expanded Environmental Notification Form for Wynn Everett

July 12, 2013

Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
Attn: Anne Canaday
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

RE: Comments on the EENF for Wynn Everett, MEPA #15060

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

WalkBoston has reviewed the Expanded Environmental Notification Form for Wynn Everett, a resort proposed to include 2.9 million square feet of development along the west side of Lower Broadway (Route 99) in Everett, with frontage on the commuter rail line and an existing embayment of the tidal Mystic River. The proposal includes 3,490 structured parking spaces, and waterfront features that include a harbor walk and water transportation docking facilities. Principal access to the site is from two proposed intersections with Lower Broadway.

Traffic is significant: there will be an additional 29,384 new vehicles trips on a Friday, and 35,754 new vehicle trips on a Saturday, with the largest peak-hour volumes occurring on Friday and Saturday evenings. To accommodate this traffic, a new signalized intersection with Lower Broadway is to be constructed, connecting with an on-site boulevard. Lower Broadway is to be widened to allow two southbound right turns into the boulevard. Northbound left turns will be handled by a widening of Lower Broadway or a jughandle using Bow Street that would allow vehicles to turn to the south and enter the site.

 

A secondary service drive is contemplated that will intersect Lower Broadway north of the site. The intersection of this drive with Lower Broadway is also anticipated to be signalized.

Transit access will be provided at the Sullivan Square MBTA Station, 1.2 miles from the site. Transit stations at Wellington and Assembly Square are each 0.8 miles from the site, but currently have indirect pedestrian routings to the proposed resort. Shuttle buses to all subway stations have been proposed.

Our comments center on pedestrian access into and within the site. We are basically concerned that the location of the site and its considerable distance from centers of population and regional transit stations will result in motor vehicles providing the majority of the access to the site. Despite that concern, we have reviewed the proposal for individual improvements in pedestrian access associated with the project.

Off-site access to and from the proposed resort

Lower Broadway was recently reconstructed by the state as part of its enhancements to State Route 99, which included the addition of new bicycle lanes in both directions and the narrowing of existing sidewalks to permit expansion for other transportation modes. The proponent should detail the ways in which sidewalks will be upgraded for pedestrian access into the site. Sidewalk access should extend at least as far as the MBTA Sullivan Square Station, which will require the proponent to deal with that portion of the sidewalk within the City of Boston.

 

A new commuter rail station being investigated by the City of Everett on the commuter rail line that is adjacent to this site. To make this proposal a realistic option, the proponent should detail the ways in which rail connections to the site will be integrated with the resort, including major pedestrian routes into the heart of the site. A brief mention was made of an existing underpass; perhaps this could be upgraded to provide a connection to both sides of the track.

 

The new intersections with Lower Broadway for both the major boulevard access and the service access should be carefully planned to include safety measures for pedestrian crossings. This should include pedestrian phase timing at these and other signalized intersections constructed or modified as part of the proposal.

 

A potential connection between the site and the City of Somerville could be provided by access over the Amelia Earhart Dam. This connection would lead to both the new Assembly Square MBTA Station and to the Somerville/Charlestown Mystic River path network.

 

Riverfront access

The proposal envisions an extension of the Mystic River trail system from this site to the west. This extension involves going under the elevated commuter rail line along the River to reach Gateway Park and other open spaces planned for the banks of the Malden River. This will extend parks in appropriate riverside locations and in accordance with local and regional park planning.

One of the uses of the proposed trail system to the west is suggested to be a connection to allow access to and from the MBTA Wellington Station. This station is nearly a mile away, and it may be difficult to attract transit riders to use the trail, as access to it involves walking in open spaces where walkways are not readily visible from the street. The proponent should investigate making this walkway safe for access to its site with improved signage and lighting.

A portion of the embayment along the Mystic River is located inside the City of Boston and is occupied in part by public agencies. The proponent should explore with these agencies the potential for riverside access for pedestrians, in effect extending the Mystic River pathway network closer to Sullivan Square.

We look forward to the details of these and other elements of the plan. We appreciate your consideration of our comments and look forward to your responses to them. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Robert Sloane
Senior Project Manager

Mystic River Recreational Trail Comment Letter

Mystic River Recreational Trail Comment Letter

March 22, 2011

Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

Attn: MEPA Office, Deirdre Buckley

RE: Comments on the Environmental Notification Form, EEA No. 14718 Mystic River Recreational Trail

Dear Secretary Sullivan:

WalkBoston appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Environmental Notification Form for the Mystic River Recreational Trail in Somerville. The project has grown out of the analysis of the Assembly Square development project, which will enlarge and improve the riverside park along the Mystic River. The completion of the new riverside park will result in trails along the south bank of the Mystic for about one mile, reaching from the MBTA rail overpass near the Mystic River Dam to the network of paths that outline part of the Ten Hills neighborhood and along the river to Mystic Valley Parkway (Route 16) in Medford. However, these trails are divided into two discontinuous parts on either side of the Fellsway (Route 28), a heavily traveled roadway which is difficult for pedestrians to cross safely.

The proposal calls for construction of an underpass to accommodate a recreational trail beneath the Mystic River Bridge (Fellsway, Route 28). This underpass would link the Assembly Square development with the Ten Hills neighborhood in Somerville and provide a continuous walkway along the Mystic River. Construction of the underpass will also include some improvements to pathway connections to it on both sides of the Fellsway (Route 28).

WalkBoston fully supports construction of the underpass and welcomes the connections it will provide for walking and bicycling along the Mystic River. The facility will strengthen the Assembly Square development and add a new amenity to other areas near the river. The trail will ultimately be an element in a larger network of trails into and through Assembly Square, and will connect with the proposed station on the Orange Line.

WalkBoston continues to support smooth surfaces on walking routes and in public spaces that serve as pedestrian gathering places and plazas. Brick, granite or concrete pavers create a visually distinctive space but without very careful maintenance these surfaces can quickly become uneven, making for treacherous walking. Such materials are also often difficult to clear of snow during the winter months. Specifications for this project should call for smooth materials leading from both sides onto the wooden deck that constitutes the trail under the bridge. We encourage the selection of smooth walking surfaces wherever possible.

The Assembly Square development is described as a transit-oriented development and we understand that the transit station is being constructed early in the development sequence. The proposed underpass is an integral part of providing good pedestrian connections to the Assembly Square transit station from the Ten Hills neighborhood, and will help to draw pedestrians to the new station.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this project. Please contact us if you have questions. Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Cc Monica R. Lamboy, Executive Director, Somerville Strategic Planning and Community Development,
Jaime Corliss, Director, Shape Up Somerville