Tag: Circulation

Codman Academy Walk Audit

Codman Academy Walk Audit

In 2014, a student was struck and seriously injured on Epping Street, a one block, one lane roadway bordering the Codman Academy. The 9th grade student got off an MBTA bus and started walking across Epping Street and was hit by a car. The student was hospitalized.

Epping Street is a one-way street used by drivers to avoid traffic signals at Norfolk and Talbot. This usage represents safety hazards for the students and faculty at Codman Academy. This report looks at the safety benefits of closing Epping Street.

Information for this report was collected and analyzed by 10th grade students at Codman Academy as part of their physics and math classes in the fall and winter of 2014-2015. They were assisted in this effort by staff from WalkBoston, a non-profit walking advocacy organization.

Read the full report here:

The Commons at Prospect Hill FEIR Comment Letter

The Commons at Prospect Hill FEIR Comment Letter

April 10, 2009

Secretary Ian Bowles Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR)
The Commons at Prospect Hill
MEPA # 13952

Dear Secretary Bowles:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the FEIR for The Commons at Prospect Hill in Waltham.

This plan is a roll-over from the SDEIR on which we commented in February, 2009. We note, since this is simply the roll-over of that document, changes have not been incorporated in the plan since that time. Thus, our comments on the SDEIR remain the same as when they were written.

We hope that the final design of the project will incorporate a greater measure of concern about the facilities that pedestrians need throughout the project, and that sufficient safety measures will be put into place to assure that pedestrians crossing streets or parking lots will be protected from the flood of autos that will be attracted by the project.

As you may know, we met with the proponent and had the opportunity of presenting our comments directly to the designers. It is entirely possible that we did not present our case understandably or make our suggestion sufficiently attractive to persuade the development team to place a greater emphasis on pedestrian activities throughout the site. However, we would also point out that 21st century standards of development are rapidly evolving toward greater emphasis on pedestrian-friendly and transit-accessible designs in all parts of the country. We find it disappointing that that is not the case with this project.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this document. Please let us know if you would like further clarification of our comments.

Wendy Landman                                   Robert Sloane
Executive Director                                 Senior Planner

The Commons at Prospect Hill SDEIR Comment Letter

The Commons at Prospect Hill SDEIR Comment Letter

February 18, 2009

Secretary Ian Bowles
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Report (SDEIR)
The Commons at Prospect Hill
MEPA # 13952

Dear Secretary Bowles:

Thank you much for the opportunity to comment on the evolving plan represented in the SDEIR for The Commons at Prospect Hill in Waltham.

We are commenting this time to underscore our feeling that opportunities are being lost to create a development that could be a model for the 21st c. We are certain that proponents for The Commons at Prospect Hill could go further toward ensuring that walking (and bicycling and transit use) can be supported by the new development.

Summary of Comments
We note that the SDEIR has incorporated few, if any, adjustments to the proponent’s DEIR plan that reflect the comments raised by WalkBoston about that plan’s pedestrian circulation and safety needs and possible modifications to the physical layout of the project to encourage walking.

The following comments relate to pedestrian safety and circulation throughout the site. We have added suggestions that we think should be considered to make the development more attractive to pedestrians.

1. Pedestrian safety along the rail trail

  •  Access to adjacent buildings. We continue to be concerned that there do not seem to be any places where pedestrians can access new buildings from the trail without crossing driveways or parking lots. A more extensive effort should provide routes that are safe for pedestrians moving within parts of the project. For example, access to Buildings 10 and 11, immediately adjacent to the rail trail, could be included and made attractive.
  • Trail/site driveway crossings. Unprotected pedestrian crossings along the rail trail are not safe for walkers. The crossing of the rail trail at the East Driveway has the potential for being difficult to use and unsafe for each crossing. It seems insufficient to state that safety issues related to crossings will be dealt with at a later date. At the Central Driveway and at the Primary Driveway, crossings will be signalized, but extremely heavy site traffic is anticipated, and pedestrian phases must be built into the signalization of both intersections.

2. Pedestrians in the Main Street corridor

  • The relatively high density of development proposed for the entrance areas near Main Street would suggest that a pedestrian-friendly precinct is especially important in this part of the site. However, the sidewalk along Main Street remains cramped and narrow, with insufficient space to accommodate both walking and bicycling.
  • Snow storage in winter will further complicate pedestrian movement along this frontage. No provision is evident for snow storage along this perimeter.
  • Extending the sidewalk partially u n der Building No. 9 would make it more useful as the major entry to the site that also must accommodate MBTA transit access and the rail-trail as it crosses the site. As the front door of the site, it should be extremely welcoming to all who arrive on foot, by transit and bike.

3. Pedestrians in the Lifestyle Center
The layout of the Lifestyle Center, comprised of Buildings 5,6,7,8 and 9, is unchanged from the DEIR. It remains a problem area that is largely unsupportive of safe and attractive pedestrian activity. About 180 parking spaces are planned to be the focus of the pedestrian-oriented Lifestyle Center area, and they separate all the buildings with double rows of parking and a traffic circle. These concessions to cars are made despite the existence of a very large parking garage, which will abut the parking lots at the heart of the Lifestyle Center – the traffic circle – adjacent to Building 6. To cope with these liabilities, we suggest:

  •  Limiting parking on both sides of Lifestyle Center streets to parallel curb parking rather than diagonal parking, and narrowing the street in the regained space.
  • Reserving a portion of the wide sidewalks on the Lifestyle Center streets solely for pedestrians, with outdoor cafes and other attractions to make it lively.
  • Adding retail spaces on the ground level of the garage to enlarge the variety of business options in the Lifestyle Center and attract more pedestrian/customers.
  • Connecting Building 9 more directly with the Lifestyle Center by providing sidewalks on both sides of the building all the way to Main Street, and by including retail facilities on the ground floor to attract more pedestrians and to make the walk more interesting.
  • Connecting Building 3 more directly to the Lifestyle Center. Presently located immediately behind the parking garage, Building 3 is indirectly connected to the pedestrian network via walkways that wind between Building 6 and the parking garage. Whether Building 3 has retail, office or other occupants, it can be directly connected to the Lifestyle Center.
  • Connecting Building 4 more directly to the Lifestyle Center. It is not far from Building 6 in the present plan, but inexplicably unconnected to the Lifestyle Center.

4. Pedestrians in the big box areas
The scale of the remaining development remains sprawling, with large 1-2 story retail structures surrounded by parking. This layout is not conducive to encouraging pedestrian trips. If buildings are to be so widely separated by parking lots, the proponent should make additional efforts to assure that these very lengthy walkways are pedestrian-friendly. Buildings 1, 2 and 11 are so large and so distant from the Lifestyle Center pedestrian ways that they may never become pedestrian destinations.

  • Redesign sidewalks in the outlying areas to make them more direct. Navigating the sidewalks from the Lifestyle Center to Building 11, for example, requires following a formidable, very indirect route that few will follow.
  • Redesign sidewalks leading to outlying large retail buildings to make them landscaped, green corridors with shelters, lights and wayfinding signs added. • Incorporate green walking corridors alongside partially open, functional drainageways inside the parking lots (also useable for snow storage).

5. Walkways in and connecting to the adjacent parks
The abutting Prospect Hill Park and the 20-acre Berry Farm parcel offer opportunities for recreational walkways linked to the development on this site.

  • Connections between Prospect Hill Park, the Berry Farm and the Wayside Rail Trail should be added, perhaps at the east boundary of this site, where parking lots could be skirted.
  • Hillside Road, an existing roadway through land owned by the city in Prospect Hill Park, will be abandoned and truncated as a result of this project. Hillside Road might become the corridor for a walkway within the park along the east side of the site – readily useable by all site occupants. An extension of Hillside Road further north on the site could be located within the buried power line corridor and could eventually extend to Third Street north of the site.
  • Connecting a Hillside Road walkway with the rail trail would apparently involve using the sidewalk along the East Driveway. As an alternative, the City of Waltham might be interested in a Prospect Park corridor between Hillside Road and a yet-to-be planned trail system within the Berry Farm – ultimately connecting with the rail trail.

6. Intersections and the rail trail
The statewide rail trail through the site involves passage through very high density land uses and traffic. Because of this, considerable effort must be made to assure that children and others walking or riding along the rail trail are safe. Three difficult intersections on the site will be crossed by the trail at Primary Driveway, Central Driveway and East Driveway. Additional intersection crossings will be required within the new interchange to be constructed above Route 95/128. All intersections will be very heavily traveled. An extraordinary amount of effort will be required to assure that pedestrian safety at all of these intersections is made secure and convenient.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this document. Please feel free to contact us for clarification or additional comments.

Wendy Landman                                 Robert Sloane
Executive Director                               Senior Planner

Chestnut Hill Square Comments on Final Environmental Impact Report

Chestnut Hill Square Comments on Final Environmental Impact Report

January 5, 2007

Secretary Ian Bowles
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
MEPA Office
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

Attn: Bill Gage

RE: Comments on Final Environmental Impact Report
Chestnut Hill Square
200 Boylston Street, Newton, MA
EOEA # 12928


Dear Mr. Bowles:

WalkBoston has reviewed the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Chestnut Hill Square in Newton, MA. The proposal will have significant impacts on future circulation in and near several malls and residential towers on Route 9, an essential regional artery. We conclude that the pedestrian aspects of the proposal may play an extremely important role in alleviating congestion.

We are pleased that the project proponent has made so many substantial efforts to integrate pedestrian facilities into the project. In general, we think it is a promising basis for a more complete pedestrian network on the site – one that draws its neighbors together. In addition, we have several concerns about the project which are described below:

• Assessing the market for walking in the area

• Encouraging nearby residents to walk

• Providing a comprehensive network of pedestrian pathways

o The Florence Street frontage

o The west boundary of the property

o The east boundary of the property

o The Route 9 frontage

o Interior walkways

• Integrating access to public transit

• Assuring construction of pedestrian bridge over Route 9

• Establishing sidewalk construction standards


Potential Walkers In The Area

The site of Chestnut Hill Square is one with substantial potential for walk-in customers from nearby residential districts (within a 1000’ radius or 2-3 city blocks). Transportation policy and wise management would suggest that local residents should be encouraged to walk these short distances, rather than being required to drive such short distances because pedestrian infrastructure is lacking. Short very local trips add to the total number of vehicles on-street, exacerbating congestion that could instead be alleviated by pedestrian connections to nearby sites.

Within a 1000-foot radius of the site (less than . mile!), are high-density residential towers, townhouse developments and single-family homes accounting for more than 1,700 units.

Collectively, these units have a population of about 2,600 people (assuming an average occupancy of 1.5 persons/unit). These potential customers are within very convenient walking distance of the proposed retail development, and may readily be interested in walking access if it is encouraged. Assuming .5 trips/day/unit, if only half of these trips were made on foot, it could mean a reduction of more than 850 daily vehicle trips.


Attracting Walkers to The Site

For the many nearby residents to walk to the site, a network of pedestrian facilities is essential, as is pointed out in the FEIR. Even with the infrastructure in place, these potential customers will need persuasion to walk to the center – to overcome ingrained driving habits and to be persuaded to try out the new walking routes. Specific walking encouragement could take the form of publicity about the site’s walkability, offers of free delivery services (for people who purchase more than they can comfortably carry), sales of grocery carts, walking clubs based at the grocery store (or other retailers), or the provision of walking maps showing the pedestrian routes. Not only will walking help alleviate congestion, it may be an important marketing tool highlighting the convenience of the site.


A Comprehensive Network of Walkways

The FEIR states that sidewalks and pedestrian promenade areas will be provided along all roadways within the site. (p. I-13, Section 6.2.1. and IV-24, Section Yet the Illustrative Site Plan (Fig. I.1-2) and the Pedestrian/Bicycle Circulation Diagram (Fig. II.1-7) show sidewalks only in certain areas: along Boylston Street, along Florence Street, and in front of the entrances to the retail areas on both sides of the central east-west street. In addition a second-level walkway is proposed, (as diagrammed in Figs. I.1-2 and II.1-7) to supplement access from sidewalks at the lower level.

The on-site pedestrian network should include sidewalks along all roadways within the site, and all of the sidewalks should be of adequate widths. The widths may vary, depending ontheir intended uses. Considerable thought has been given to the retail-pedestrian precinct, where sidewalks are wide, reflecting the greatest concentration of outdoor pedestrian traffic on the site. Elsewhere it is unclear what sidewalk standards can or will be met.

Sidewalks are to be constructed so as to be flush with all garage entrances (p. I-13, section 6.2.1). We are pleased that this standard will be followed in the project.

The following sidewalks should be added to the site design:

West boundary road (abutting the Capitol Grille and the rear parking lot.) A proposed roadway provides access between Route 9, the garages and the loading areas, but does not extend all the way from Boylston Street to Florence Street (a paved area is provided for emergency access only). A missing pedestrian link along the west boundary is a full connection between Florence Street and Route 9. This would be a convenient way for pedestrians to reach Route 9 if there is to be a pedestrian crossing at the at-grade signalized intersection between this site and the Mall at Chestnut Hill.

Sidewalks on the east side of the site facing Milton’s, Barnes & Noble, and Avalon Bay. A roadway is proposed here, to extend from Route 9 to Florence Street, but part of it is to be used only for emergency access. Only a very short segment of sidewalk along it is diagrammed in Fig. 1.1-2 or Fig. II.1-7, yet a sidewalk here would form a major element of a full pedestrian network. It could serve people walking to the lifestyle food center and other retailers from Florence Street, as well as residents of Avalon Bay and residential areas near Hammond Pond Parkway and Heath Street. A gracious touch would be to provide abutting properties such as Avalon Bay Residences and Milton’s direct pedestrian access to this walkway. The Milton’s building is clearly visible from the site (it forms a visual terminus of the central plaza access to the retail areas), and a fence between properties without pedestrian access seems inappropriate.

Sidewalks on the north boundary of the site along Route 9. This is potentially the most difficult area for pedestrians. Sidewalks are in place along the Route 9 frontage between Hammond Pond Parkway and Florence Street. But, the heavy traffic on the roadway and the turning movements at numerous curb cuts make the environment unpleasant and threateningly dangerous.

• The entrances and exits for Chestnut Hill Square pose potential conflicts with pedestrians. The one-way inbound west entrance will serve significant traffic volumes into the site. Pedestrians following Route 9 should be able to cross when turning movements into the site are not permitted by the signal.

• The east entrance and exit location is somewhat more difficult, as it is presently proposed to be unsignalized. Eastbound entering and exiting traffic may not be able to see pedestrians on the Route 9 sidewalks.

• The mid-site exit onto Route 9 (abutting David & Co.) is one-way outbound to the highway, incorporating both a truck loading zone and vehicles exiting the site from the west parking garage access points. This exit has pedestrian connections on the west side with the potential for significant conflict with pedestrians. It is not shown to have any signalized intersections.

• There is a proposed new on-site lane parallel to Route 9 for a bus lane/stop for the project (Fig. II.1-7). This lane may have a conflict of uses – a bus lane/bus stop serving the site and an acceleration lane for traffic entering Route 9. Pedestrian access to the bus lane and stop appears to be by way of the mid-site exit described above.

• In summary, the difficulties facing pedestrians on Route 9 sidewalks support the concept of constructing the central plaza as an attractive alternative route for pedestrians.

• Sidewalk along Florence Street. Sidewalks are clearly included along Florence Street. They are interrupted by three driveways into the site, but seem appropriate for the setting. The Florence Street sidewalks connect to residences along the length of Florence Street (Heath Street in Brookline) from Hammond Pond Pkwy to Route 9. The street may become less safe and attractive for pedestrians if it becomes a bypass for Route 9.

Internal Walkways

The retail center of the site is the focus of proposed internal pedestrian ways. The internal walkways at the central plaza look potentially interesting and lively, connecting numerous retail outlets, and both the east and west residences. The buildings are not isolated from the world by vast parking lots, and the central plaza is about 500 feet long – slightly longer than a city block – walkable and easily comprehended by pedestrians. The space is complemented by existing buildings at either end, with the Milton’s store, backed by the Avalon Bay tower to the east, and the Capital Grille, backed by the high-rise Imperial Towers at the west.

This central space cries out for physical connections to the off-site buildings at either end. The proponent has indicated that conversations are underway with abutters to provide pedestrian links. (see p. II-6, section 1.4.3) We hope that this happens in conjunction with careful traffic controls on-site to ensure that the significant amount of site-generated traffic that may pass through the heart of the central plaza does not impede pedestrian travel. All traffic entering the site at the new signalized intersection from an eastbound direction and via the new turn lanes on westbound Route 9 will pass through the retail area eventually –primarily to and from parking areas. Traffic entering the site at the eastbound driveway from Route 9 can avoid passing directly through the pedestrian precinct.

In the DEIR, inhabitants of the Florence Street Residences appeared to have additional access through the interior of the adjacent parking garage into the retail areas via a second floor arcade. This connection is not shown on Fig. 1.1-2, and we hope that it will be provided. If available, this route would also be attractive to off-site residents coming to the retail areas, as a weather-protected walkway.

Integrating Public Transit Access

The addition of a bus stop at the site is very useful. As proposed, MBTA Route 60 would continue its present route to Langley Road, just past the new Chestnut Hill Square/Mall to the Chestnut Hill intersection on Route 9, and use the jughandle and signal as a u-turn location. The new bus stop should be coordinated with the bus stop on the opposite side of Route 9 (in front of the Mall at Chestnut Hill). This would help alleviate the need for transit riders to walk across Route 9 to reach either site.

The proposed shuttle service from the Green Line Station at Chestnut Hill is a valuable addition. This station is more than a mile away, and a shuttle would provide access for both employees and customers if provided on frequent headways. We hope that the proponent will work with area retailers to make the shuttle service a success.

Pedestrian Bridge Over Route 9

Since it was suggested by the proponent, the possible pedestrian bridge over Route 9 between this site and the Mall at Chestnut Hill has engendered great interest. The proposal was made to provide a thorough integration of the two malls on opposite sides of Route 9. It would expand the shopping opportunities available, in much the same way that Copley Plaza and Prudential Center malls are related via the pedestrian connection over Huntington Avenue. The combination of retail opportunities at the two malls would create a significant concentration of shopping to attract both regional and local residents. The bridge would eliminate the difficulties inherent in pedestrian at-grade crossings on Route 9. Even with a signalized intersection, this will not be a pedestrian-friendly location due to the speed and volume of traffic, and the width of the roadway. Getting the bridge built may be difficult. There seems to be little likelihood that public agencies will fund the construction. Therefore, the proponent should pursue the steps outlined and make efforts to ensure that the bridge is constructed.


Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this FEIR. Please feel free to contact us for clarification or additional comments.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Robert Sloane
Senior Planner