Tag: bu bridge

Join us for a Cambridgeport Walk starting by the BU Bridge on July 11 at 5:30pm!

Join us for a Cambridgeport Walk starting by the BU Bridge on July 11 at 5:30pm!

We look forward to seeing you on July 11th at 5:30pm for our latest walk! We’ll be starting on Comm Ave by the BU Bridge.

What: 2024 Cambridgeport Walk
When: July 11, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Where: corner of Comm Ave and BU Bridge (785 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215)
Price: Free, but donations are welcome to support our work.
RSVP here: https://www.givesignup.org/TicketEvent/2024CambridgeportWalk

Join us on our next free walk with a ~1-1.5 mile route that includes ~2-4 stops along the way where we hear from a guest speaker. We start or end near public transit, and usually end at a place where people can mingle/have a drink if they’d like to continue conversations.

We encourage you to use public transportation, walk, or bike to the start so that it is easy for you to head out afterwards. Updates will be available on our website & sent to all registered attendees before the event.

SPEAKERS & TOPICS

BU Bridge, Magazine Beach, and more! 

ROUTE

We’ll add the exact details to this blog post, but we’ll be starting near the Comm Ave / BU Bridge intersection and ending somewhere in Central Square.

STARTING LOCATION

BU Bridge at the Comm Ave side. We’ll meet at the wide corner sidewalk near “Lot H.” Look for the “WalkMassachusetts” sign. 

GETTING THERE VIA PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: 

  • Green Line: take the B line and get off at either Amory Street or BU Central 
  • Bus: 47, 57, CT2 
  • BlueBikes: closest station is on Comm Ave by BU Central

We look forward to seeing you on 7/11 at 5:30pm; sign up today!

Letter to Review Team on Restoration of the River Edge

Letter to Review Team on Restoration of the River Edge

From: WalkBoston, Charles River Conservancy, Charles River Watershed Association

To: MassDOT – officials, staff, consultants Review Team on the I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement Project

Date: August 15, 2018

Re: Charles River – Restoration of the River Edge

On behalf of three organizations committed to the protection of the Charles River and its parklands, public access and pathways, and environmental health we jointly request that MassDOT fulfill its responsibilities to this invaluable resource by analyzing and developing options for the ecological restoration of the severely degraded and eroded riverbank in the I-90 Interchange Project area – from the BU Bridge to the River Street Bridge. This Project directly impacts the Charles River Basin , its parkland, ecology, water quality, and overall resiliency; dealing with those impacts is integral to the Project.

A study by MassDOT in advance of the FEIR should include re-establishment of a more natural edge, bank restoration, stormwater management, and increased floodplain connectivity and storage for resiliency. It should explore at least one alternative that creates better habitat and provides flood storage through the use of fill material in the river to accomplish these objectives. We ask that between now and when the FEIR is produced, a detailed analysis of alternatives, carried out in a collaborative manner, be developed so that results can be incorporated in the FEIR.

The DEIR did not adequately consider the need to restore the river bank, improve the park, and improve water quality. The DEIR has chiefly dealt with these impacts by trying to avoid them on the theory that permitting for the Project would be more difficult if river edge improvements are included. We are convinced that the contrary is true: a serious examination of these improvements would enlist substantial support from organizations, municipalities, and agencies committed to restoring environmental quality in this area – support that will be important to obtaining required approvals.

Restoration of this area requires attention to a number of issues and several important state and federal requirements, including:

1. Protect the river bank from further degradation and restore aquatic and riparian habitat. Much of the existing bank is degraded and eroding, eliminating fish habitat. The Charles is an important fish run for alewives, blueback herring and American shad, migratory fish that return to the river each year to spawn.

2. Provide parkland and improve safe walking and biking conditions as part of multi-modal improvement called for in MassDOT’s Project “purpose and need” statement and under Article 97.

3. Reduce stormwater runoff discharging to the river via overland flows and outfalls, including the 13 outfalls along Soldiers Field Road in the Throat Area. Both MassDOT and DCR have regulatory obligations to comply with phosphorus limits established in the state’s Lower Charles River Basin Nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load (2007).

4. Provide flood resilience, control and storage capacity for precipitation-based inland flooding within the context of current and expected climate change impacts.

5. Develop landscape strategies and designs that provide Section 4(f) mitigation. Removing invasive species, dead trees and replanting with native vegetation, in addition to incorporating green infrastructure, should be integral to the study.

6. Plan for the riverfront parkland, which is a water-dependent use under Chapter 91.

7. Meet historic requirements for the Charles River Reservation in the Charles River Basin Historic District included in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and Massachusetts Historical Commission review.

8. Comply with the Article 97 no net loss policy that requires replacement of parkland that is to be taken by the Project.

One example of how an alternatives analysis could address these issues is the environmental assessment and recommendations prepared for the North Shore Riverfront Ecosystem Restoration Project in Pittsburgh, PA. It provides extensive river edge improvements, including a natural bank, new pathways, landscaped parklands, connected floodplain, and wetlands. It was developed jointly by local environmental organizations and local, state and federal agencies, including the US Army Corps of Engineers. (https://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Portals/72/docs/ProjectReviewPlans/N%20Shore%20Riverfront%20DP R%20MSC%20Approved%20for%20Release.pdf?ver=20160524161651743)

We are committed to working cooperatively with you in this process in order to evaluate the options and to achieve results in an expedited and cost-effective manner to restore and enhance this area of the Charles River and the Basin parklands.

We look forward to your response.

Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston
Laura Jasinski, Executive Director, Charles River Conservancy
Margaret VanDusen, Deputy Director and General Counsel, Charles River Watershed Association

Please join WalkBoston, the Charles River Conservancy and the Charles River Watershed Association at a “Throat” Walk, September 12, 5:30 PM. We will meet at “BU Beach” behind the Marsh Chapel.

Images from Environmental Assessment of North Shore Riverfront, Pittsburgh

 

Comments on the Charles River Resource Management Plan

Comments on the Charles River Resource Management Plan

October 31, 2014

Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
100 Cambridge St., Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

RE: Comments on the Charles River Resource Management Plan

Dear Secretary Vallely Bartlett:

WalkBoston reviews public planning documents to identify potential implications for pedestrians. The following comments are based on our review of this document:

We are very excited about the opportunities presented for potential improvements in the 3- mile long section of riverfront between the Harbor and the BU Bridge. Because the document gives each proposed improvement a priority ranking, we are able to sense where DCR is moving in its schedule to improve the Lower Charles River Basin.

Many of the improvements proposed are essential for all users of the parks and nearby neighborhoods. We commend DCR for its foresight in working toward protection from flooding that might be anticipated in the wake of Hurricane Sandy two years ago. Improvements to the dam between the river and the harbor will protect the basin, and much of the Back Bay and portions of Cambridge, from flooding.

We are also happy that DCR has been active in working on both the proposed South Bank Bridge behind North Station and the “drawbridge walkway” to be constructed as part of an MBTA replacement bridge. These measures will complete the connection of the riverfront paths with the Harbor Walk.

A related improvement is the proposed walkway behind the Science Museum that would provide connections into the museum, pass over the locks with a new bridge and perhaps through the state police barracks to connect with riverside paths and the existing sidewalk in front of the Museum. This improvement would add capacity of the paths around the basin by providing a new pathway for walkers and runners who currently have no option other than the narrow sidewalk that lies along the reconstructed Craigie Dam roadway.

The partnership of DCR and The Esplanade Association has resulted in proposals that are also moving forward. The relocation of Storrow Drive under one of the Longfellow Bridge arches will provide new park space. Overall goals of the Association’s Esplanade 2020 proposals include revitalizing the area around the Hatch Shell with redesigned paths, a café, and areas for audiences attending Hatch Shell performances. One of the recurring issues in the Hatch Shell work has been the mixing of pedestrians and bicycles at the proposed café that cannot be avoided until a high-speed bicycle path, separated from pedestrian ways, is provided under the Fiedler Footbridge.

We are very pleased the concept of providing separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists is a major feature of the report. In some cases, this kind of separation already exists, as in portions of the Boston Esplanade. In others, such as the Cambridge Esplanade, it will be a major improvement to separate paths for a substantial portion of the riverfront. This design provides high-speed bicycle commuters a special route away from quieter activities, such as strolling or playing with children. We trust that the users of the Cambridge Esplanade will benefit from a proposed greensward with trees and a slight differential in elevation that promotes safety by discouraging a mix of fast cyclists and slower users of the paths.

The report also cites several management issues that require relatively small expenditures. For example, the attention given to removing or controlling geese is important because the birds have become dominant in some sections of the Basin, interfering with safe, healthy and pleasant walking on paths near the River. Snow removal is extremely important to walkers and runners who use the riverside facilities during all months of the year.

However, WalkBoston is concerned that the aspirations expressed in the document do not extend as far as they might. We hope that DCR will explore giving more attention to the following issues.

Minimum widths for paths
The report points out that some stretches of paved paths are only five feet wide. This is insufficient to serve the mix and volume of users, often including both pedestrians and bicyclists. It is clearly inadequate for a multi-use path.

Reliance on multi-use facilities
Pedestrian volumes in the riverfront between the BU Bridge and Boston Harbor are significant. These volumes are reflected in user surveys undertaken by DCR and others, where “walking for pleasure” was shown to be the single most important purpose for many people using the parkland. In another survey, 55% of the respondents cited “congested pathways” as an issue they hoped would be addressed. In the same survey 86% of the respondents would support “separating paths by user types.” 67% of respondents reported a negative experience in using the park, with the majority citing the conflict of pedestrians and cyclists.

These surveys indicate that walkers desire safe and pleasant alternatives to multi-use paths. While it is not feasible to provide separate pedestrian paths along the full length of the corridor, it is clearly a desirable feature to include throughout the wider portions of the park. Multi-use paths would thus be limited to those locations where there are no other options such as narrow stretches of parkland or the recently completed North Bank Bridge.

Provisions for runners and joggers
One of the goals stated in the report calls for safe and continuous bicycle, skating and pedestrian access along the entire length of the park. We would add to that list of users the many runners and joggers who use River paths because they are relatively safe and removed from vehicular traffic.

While runners and joggers do not directly compete with pedestrians for space, they are better served by softer surfaces than asphalt or concrete. “Soft surface” paths have been discussed in locations such as the Greenough Boulevard reconstruction, where separate paths are proposed to serve cycling, walking and running. While the separation of walking and cycling paths is a recurring theme in the report, the possibility of also providing a separate path for runners is not. We would suggest including it in any revisions that might be forthcoming. The presence of so many “goat paths” adjacent to the paved paths clearly point to the need.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important project. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,

Robert Sloane
Senior Planner

Comments on Allston I-90 Interchange/West Station

Comments on Allston I-90 Interchange/West Station

September 29, 2014

To: Patricia Leavenworth 
Chief Engineer
MassDOT Highway Division
10 Park Plaza Boston, MA 02116

Attn: Bridge Project Management – Project File No. 606475

Dear Ms. Leavenworth:

The Allston I-90 Interchange Improvement Project can bring a wide variety of benefits to the Commonwealth, City of Boston, and people who live, work, and commute in the area. I hope you will agree that this project is also an opportunity to advance important State initiatives including GreenDOT, the Healthy Transportation Compact, the bike/walk/transit Mode Shift Goal, and Environmental Justice policy.

That being said, our organizations are deeply concerned with several aspects of the current design and process: 

Topics of concern from our organizations and representatives:

  • MassDOT should completely integrate planning and construction of the relocated Pike at the same time as the new West Station.
  • Pike and rail routes should be decked over for future development and to give pedestrian, bicycle and bus access between North and South Allston.
  • A wide riverside park – called the Allston Esplanade – should extend between the BU Bridge and the River Street Bridge.
  • Where Soldiers Field Road is parallel to the Pike, it should be placed under the Mass Pike viaduct to allow widening the park strip along the Charles River.
  • The Pike viaduct should not be widened beyond its current 8 lanes where it would encroach on the Charles River parkland.
  • A mall with separate pedestrian and bicycle paths should extend across the project and into the Allston Esplanade.
  • MassDOT should have a long-term process of planning for the Mass Pike Relocation and West Station that involves residents and advocacy groups.

Thank you for your concern and willingness to review our comments, which are detailed in the next few pages. We look forward to working with in the future on this project and its important elements.

Sincerely,

Allston Village Main Streets
         Alana Olsen

Allston- Brighton Community Development Corporation
         Carol Ridge-Martinez, Executive Director

Allston Board of Trade
         Marc Kadish

Allston Civic Association
         Matt Danish

Allston/Brighton Bikes
         Galen Mook

Boston Bicyclists’ Union
         Pete Stidman, Executive Director

Charles River Conservancy
         Harry Mattison

Livable Streets Alliance
         Glen Berkowitz

MassBike
         David Watson, Executive Director

WalkBoston
         Wendy Landman, Executive Director

Residents of Allston:
Rochelle Dunn
Paola M. Ferrer, Esq.
Anabela Gomes
Bruce Houghton
Wayne Mackenzie
Rich Parr
Jessica Robertson

Details of our views on the MassDOT Turnpike and West Station projects:

MassDOT planning for the I-90 interchange area

A.     MassDOT should have only one planning process for the Mass Pike Relocation and the proposed West Station to fully integrate proposals for highway and track relocation and to maximize access to both the highway and commuter rail services.

B.     Access to West Station by all modes – rail and road, pedestrian and bicycle – and the transit headhouse, the main line and Grand Junction double tracks should be built in conjunction with the roadway project – not after it.

C.     A Project Team should be created to oversee highway, transit and land use planning for the area, and should include urban planners, architects, landscaping architects, and individuals with placemaking expertise. Project Team subcommittees such as a Design Advisory Group should be created to advise the larger team.

D.     MassDOT should encourage public involvement throughout the design and development process for the highway, transit and land use improvements, and all future involvement of citizens and professional advisors should be planned to meet at least monthly.

E.     The process of planning should be staffed and included as an expense item in the design and construction process for both the highway and the rail improvements.

Mass Pike Relocation

A.     Land that is currently Charles River parkland should not be used to build a wider viaduct for the Mass Pike or one that is closer to the river. Parallel parkland should be used only as a temporary, last resort for construction purposes and not for breakdown lanes for the Pike.  Designs for reconstructing the Mass Pike viaduct should include the plan for Soldiers Field Road to be fully relocated and rebuilt between the BU Bridge and the River Street Bridge.

B.     Slopes and clearances should be designed so that the highway will be reach the railroad grade at a point east of Babcock Street.

C.     The Mass Pike roadway should be designed so that it can easily be decked and decks should be built as part of the construction process. Deferring decking over the Pike until after the new highway is operational, even as uses of the deck are being explored, will create significant cost and safety problems.

D.   Access roads to the Turnpike from Cambridge Street should align with Babcock, Alcorn and Malvern Streets so that pedestrian, bicycle and bus connections can be easily made across the rail yard.

E.   Ramps to the service roads should not be designed as permanent limited-access facilities lined with unusable sidewalks as at the Melnea Cass Boulevard entrance to the Southeast Expressway. Access to ramps and service roads should be limited cautiously, and no limited access ramps should extend more than one city block north of the relocated Mass Pike.

West Station

A.     The design for West Station should be based on double tracks for both the Boston to Worcester Line and double tracks for future frequent service on the Grand Junction Line.

B.     All tracks for the station and the rail yard should be lowered, if only a few feet, to allow for better north-south connections over the project area.

C.      Connections for all access to the West Station headhouse will involve use of the air rights above the railroad tracks. Pedestrian and bicycle access to the headhouse should be constructed across the air rights. Bus access on the air rights should be provided from Cambridge Street and from Commonwealth Avenue via Babcock and Malvern Streets and a roadway parallel to Ashford Street to provide full bus access.

D.      The layout of the tracks in the rail yard should be detailed as part of the design for reconstructing the Mass Pike interchange, with upgrading of the spacing between tracks to allows construction on the air rights above them. MassDOT should construct air rights decks as part of the West Station and Mass Pike projects. Potential users of the air rights next t o West Station should be found as soon as possible.

E.     The layout of the tracks should include mitigation for the Pratt Street neighborhood that lowers noise, perhaps through an 8’ high planted berm.

Soldiers Field Road and the Allston Esplanade

A.     Soldiers Field Road should be permanently moved away from the river as far as possible, to a location partially under the Mass Pike viaduct between Commonwealth Avenue and Babcock Street and from the end of that viaduct to the River Street Bridge.

B.    The Allston Esplanade – a wide, significant signature public space – should be created on the river’s edge adjacent to the relocated Soldiers Field Road, using the inspiration provided by the Boston Society of Architects presentations. Designs for the Allston Esplanade should extend at a minimum from the BU Bridge to the Western Avenue Bridge. 

C.    Wide pedestrian and bicycle paths should be provided along the river between the River Street Bridge to the BU Bridge.

D.     Connections to and from riverside paths should be provided by bridging the relocated Soldiers Field Road to connect to a landscaped mall

Bicycle, Pedestrian and Bus Connections

A.    A Charles River crossing for pedestrians and bicycles is mandatory. The best location would be the vicinity of the existing Grand Junction Bridge. If such a crossing is impossible to design and construct, the new pedestrian/bicycle bridge should be built west of the existing Grand Junction Bridge.

B.     A landscaped mall for the Peoples’ Pike shared use path should be constructed across the project site between the Lincoln Street/Cambridge Street bridge over the Pike to the Charles River paths. The Commonwealth Avenue Mall may be a prototype for the design of the mall.

C.    The shared use path should: 

  • Have separate paths for two-way bike and pedestrian travel with a minimum overall corridor width of 25’.
  • Have direct connections over the Pike and rail yards to Commonwealth Avenue via Babcock and Malvern Streets.   

D.    Bus connections should be provided north-south across the project area. Bus routes should be considered in all designs for West Station and the Mass Pike to provide connections to:

  • West Station
  • Harvard Square
  • Commonwealth Avenue via Babcock and Malvern Streets.
  • Harvard Avenue
  • Cambridge Street

Street Design

A.     A ‘complete streets’ design standard should be used throughout the project area and include all of the area that will be rebuilt following removal of the I-90 interchange and its connecting roadways.

B.     The redesign of Cambridge Street should carefully consider and fit into the existing residential neighborhoods. If Cambridge Street is to be split into two one-way streets, the existing Cambridge Street should:

  • Become one-way westbound
  • Be narrowed considerably, if it is to be one-way westbound, to respect the residential community (existing and future) on either side of the street.
  • Have no double-left turn lanes.
  • Be residential in character, with heavy traffic diverted by the design of new streets.

 C.   Babcock and Malvern Streets between Commonwealth Avenue and the rail yards should be designed to serve pedestrian, bicycle, and bus riders, with connections across the rail yards and the Mass Pike into North Alston.

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