Tag: connectivity

Chelsea Complete Streets Support Letter

Chelsea Complete Streets Support Letter

December 4, 2017

Chelsea City Council
500 Broadway
Chelsea, MA 02150

RE: WalkBoston support for Chelsea Complete Streets Resolution and Policy

Dear Councilors:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Chelsea’s Complete Streets Resolution and Policy. As a statewide pedestrian advocacy organization working to make Massachusetts more walkable, WalkBoston enthusiastically supports this policy and encourages the Subcommittee and then the full City Council to pass it.

WalkBoston is deeply committed to safer streets in Chelsea, where we have had the privilege of working for several years now. In the past year we have conducted walk assessments in the Sector 4 and Park Square neighborhoods, working collaboratively with city departments, local residents, community organizations, and state agencies to recommend pedestrian safety improvements. (Copies of these walk assessment reports are included with this letter.) Such Complete Streets concepts are already informing the City’s Re-imagining Broadway initiative, and formalizing the policy order will ensure that this great progress continues.

The needs and opportunities around Complete Streets in Chelsea are great. The City was ranked as the top pedestrian crash cluster in the entire state for 2005-2014, highlighting the urgent need for safety improvements. The Re-imagining Broadway initiative, the forthcoming Silver Line Gateway, and ongoing urban revitalization efforts all present opportunities to create safe walking, biking and transit connections. More Complete Streets that accommodate all road users will bring substantial health, safety and economic benefits to Chelsea residents. The City Council has already taken a great step towards increased safety by reducing the default speed limit in Chelsea to 25 miles per hour, and adopting a Complete Streets framework will ensure that roadway designs help accomplish this objective.

To date 142 cities and towns all over Massachusetts have adopted Complete Streets policies, including dense urban municipalities near Chelsea like Cambridge, Somerville and Everett. These communities are pursuing innovative measures like protected bike lanes, painted curb extensions, and dedicated bus lanes to enhance mobility and connectivity for their residents.
WalkBoston encourages the City of Chelsea to follow suit, and we look forward to our continued work here to help advance Complete Streets that work for everyone.

Sincerely,

Adi Nochur
Project Manager

Comments on Charles River Basin Connectivity Study

Comments on Charles River Basin Connectivity Study

December 16, 2013

Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: Dan Driscoll
100 Cambridge St., Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

RE: Comments on the Charles River Basin Connectivity Study

Dear Secretary Sullivan:

WalkBoston has reviewed the Charles River Basin Pedestrian and Bicycle Study for Pathways and Bridges, the so-called Connectivity Study. Our comments arise from the document and from the recent presentation of the study to the public.

The Connectivity Study is very exciting work, as it assembles the issues of movement along the basin very effectively, and points out the possibilities for positive changes in the paths, walkways and running facilities along the River. DCR should be very proud of this feat, and should proceed into implementation of priority aspects of the planning effort as soon as possible.

We were particularly heartened by the Study’s general recommendations for the Basin: “DCR should strive to develop a 10’-wide paved path with a parallel soft-surface trail or shoulder for runners (emphasis added) where possible….. In “pinch point” conditions, a minimum 8’ paved path, with 3’ shoulder on one side, should be incorporated.”

This acceptance of separate paths for runners and joggers – and also pedestrians – is a very important aspect of the planning and represents continuity with past planning efforts.

In the 2002 Master Plan for the Basin a stated goal was to provide safe and continuous bicycle, skating, and pedestrian access along the entire length of the Basin, with a “separation of footpaths and bike paths where doing so will not create excessive pavement near the shoreline.” The master plan also called for reducing congestion and minimizing conflicts on the paths (presumably conflicts between bicycles and pedestrians).

In 2005, users were surveyed to discern attitudes about the river facilities. The survey asked respondents to list and rank how they used the Basin. The top twelve responses were, in order of frequency:
Walking for pleasure
Attending concerts or events
Relaxing in the park
Driving on the parkways
Running or walking for exercise
Biking
Using Riverbend Park in summer
Picnicking
Enjoying the outdoors with children
Inline skating
Walkathons
Informal sports

More than sixty percent of those surveyed used the Basin more than once a week for strolling, relaxing, attending concerts or attending special events. Eighty-six percent asked for easier and safer pedestrian access to the Basin, and an equal proportion recommended separating pathways by user types. Users also frequently called for more benches and places to sit, more wildlife areas, more park rangers, and more convenient parking.

If the Continuity Study can be regarded as an update to the Master Plan, we think it may be leaving out some of the emphasis that the authors of the two planning documents clearly stated. In particular, the separation of bicycle and pedestrian paths does not seem to be as important an aspect of the plan as the users of the park suggested to be of high importance. WalkBoston believes that path separation should be integral to all elements of the plan, as it will help deal with the many problems inherent in an area that is so heavily used with so many potential conflicts between users.

We urge consideration of the following:
1. The elimination of conflicts between users of the paths should be uppermost as a safety precaution. Conflicts arise where bicycle traffic is moving rapidly through areas where pedestrians are strolling, causing dangerous situations for all. The conflicts are particularly difficult for commuting cyclists, some of whom are loath to slow down.

2. An expansion of the definition of ‘multi-use path’ would open options that are not clearly included at the moment. Multi-use pathways in the Basin should have an element – probably a parallel, separate path – that would cater to slow-moving walkers, runners and joggers. The foot traffic path could be built entirely separated from the paved path or built as a non-cambered shoulder.

3. Multi-use paths are appropriate for areas where there is low density of use by walkers, runners and cyclists, but should not dominate planning for the heart of the very heavily used park system in the center of Boston. Instead, the overriding goal should be provision of facilities in which space is plentiful for all park users and potential conflicts between users are minimized using methods that are appropriate to each location.

4. Existing multi-use paths should be expanded all along the river to meet the definition of separation between paths based on user needs.

5. Recognition of what runners and joggers show about their desires for facilities would help in planning new paths. Narrow dirt paths that exist informally alongside many of the paved paths in the Basin demonstrate a clear desire for a softer surface preferred by runners. The softer surfaces can also be used by pedestrians and will clearly help separate cyclists from people on foot.

6. A demonstration of the path separation is included in the proposal for the Greenough Boulevard narrowing. The effects on users would be an important element to explore.

7. Path separation in the near term may only be possible on one side of the river. The Greenough Boulevard proposal and the Memorial Drive narrowing between the Eliot and Anderson Bridges point in the direction of path separation as a major feature on the north bank. Continuation of path separation both west and east of these two segments would be a next logical step. Except at intersections, parkland seems to be available for new or modified paths.

8. An unfortunate aspect of all path planning along the river is the intersections with streets at the bridges. The narrow paths that exist at many of the bridges will be a major feature of riverfront paths for a long time, but should not preclude path separation away from the bridge intersections.

9. As long-term improvements, underpasses at bridge intersections are appropriate and important options that will enhance the recreational and transportation options for many Basin users.

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,

Wendy Landman                                    Bob Sloane
Executive Director                                  Senior Project Manager

Cc Nicole Freedman, Boston Bikes
Cara Seiderman, City of Cambridge
Steve McLaughlin, MassDOT
Margo Levine Newman, The Esplanade Association
Renata von Tscharner, Charles River Conservancy
Herb Nolan, Solomon Fund
Jackie Douglas, LivableStreets Alliance
Pete Stidman, Boston Cyclists Union
David Watson, MassBike
Tom Grilk, Boston Athletic Association

Comments on the DEIR for Caesars Resort At Suffolk Downs, MEPA #15006

Comments on the DEIR for Caesars Resort At Suffolk Downs, MEPA #15006

October 11, 2013

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

RE: Comments on the DEIR for Caesars Resort At Suffolk Downs, MEPA #15006

Dear Secretary Sullivan:

WalkBoston has reviewed the DEIR for a Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs. The DEIR documents walking improvements that the proponent will undertake as part of the plan and we are generally pleased with the proposals. We offer comments below to supplement the current proposal with further improvements.

The scale of the site proposed for this project is noteworthy. The existing roadway extends nearly a mile through the L-shaped site between Route 1A and Winthrop Avenue, and the site is roughly 3,000’ north-south and east-west. Opportunities for integration with the existing community are substantial, as the site is bounded by industrial uses on the west side, by residential neighborhoods on both the north and south sides, and by the combination of the MBTA Blue Line, Bennington Street and the Belle Isle marsh on the east side. The urban setting of the project sets the stage for planning elements to allow the development to relate physically and operationally to the surrounding community.

Recognizing the scale of the site, its urban location, and the number of people anticipated to be present each day, the proponent has made efforts to shift trips away from private vehicles and toward public transportation. This is in keeping with the recently announced MassDOT statewide goal of tripling the share of walking, bicycling, and transit travel in Massachusetts. Reducing auto dependence would also reduce the environmental impacts of the development and help preserve capacity on the adjacent highway network. In addition, encouraging greater use of active travel options – walking and biking – will help the development achieve some positive public health effects. We believe that there are additional measures that could be taken to further reduce auto trips and have described several opportunities in our comments.

The details of the development plan offer evidence of some innovative thinking that has created opportunities for walkers on the site. For example, the introduction of water-catching swales on parking lots creates an opportunity to construct parallel walkways that are more pleasant ways of walking through open parking areas. Our comments are organized into those affecting access to and through the site and the pathways that help people get where they want to go within the site.

 

A. Access to the site via MBTA rapid transit service.

The Blue Line forms one boundary of the site, and has two stations near the proposed project – Beachmont Station and Suffolk Downs Station. Most of the Blue Line users are expected to use the Suffolk Downs Station.

This is reflected in the proposed walkways, bikeways and shuttle bus services to be constructed at that location. No improvements are proposed at Beachmont Station. The proponent has estimated that 15% of daily trips to and from the site will be made via the Blue Line. A total of 4,00o on-site employees are projected, and 40% of these employees, or 1,600 people, are expected to use public transit daily. In addition, 11% of the 23,674 to 32,992 daily casino visitors (2,614 – 4,086 people) are expected to use the Blue Line for access. Since there is no current MBTA bus service to the site, all of the public transit users – some 4,000 to 6,000 people per day – are expected to access the site via the Suffolk Downs Station, which in recent years has handled daily traffic of roughly 1,000 riders.

In recognition of this major impact on the use of rapid transit by employees and visitors to this site, the Suffolk Downs Blue Line Station will be upgraded by the proponent to handle anticipated transit and foot traffic. Elevators will be added on both sides of the tracks to make the station fully accessible and convenient for people wanting to cross the tracks between Bennington Street and the site. We offer several suggestions regarding the MBTA station and the access it provides to the site:
1.   A new plaza in front of the station should encourage access for all users, using a design that provides adequate space for walkers, bicyclists and shuttle bus users.
2.   The connection into Orient Heights should be enhanced and the proponent should work with neighborhood residents to design a connection that encourages safe and pleasant walking to the station.
3.   The shuttle bus shelter proposed near the plaza should have signage that includes both bus and walking information, including the estimated walking time from the station to the casino and other facilities in the proposed development.
4.   Walkways between the station and on-site buildings should be attractive, safe and conducive to walking. Separate paths for pedestrians and bicycles are an important and positive design feature. This separation should be made very clear to users, through a significant landscaped buffer strip and wayfinding signs that clearly indicate the separation. Different textures or colors of surface pavement, slightly different elevations, or decorative pathway curbs could all help signify which path belongs to pedestrians. Walkway lighting could also be designed to distinguish pedestrian lighting from the roadway/bikeway lighting.
5.   East Boston Greenway connections should be thoroughly explored. The Belle Isle Marsh lies across Bennington Street from the main entrance to Suffolk Downs MBTA Station. Plans show a path along the marsh edge connecting to the existing East Boston Greenway, and the proponent has agreed as part of a consent decree with the US EPA to fund a new boardwalk at Belle Isle Marsh to improve public access and protect natural resources within the marsh. In the short term, the path and the boardwalk should be considered concurrently and include a link to the Suffolk Downs Station. Pedestrian access improvements on Bennington Street could include moving the existing crosswalk now located at Leverett Street 200 feet north to align with the main station entrance and the route of the Greenway at the edge of the marsh. This would allow an extension of the Greenway into the proponent’s site, where significant new open space with paths and nature trails could expand and extend the Greenway network to Route 1A and to Winthrop Avenue.
6.   Future Greenway connections should be considered. The East Boston Greenway, if extended through the proponent’s site to Route 1A, could eventually be extended to link with walkways on the opposite side of Route 1A along Chelsea Creek in Revere, where open spaces are cited in the DEIR as possible future projects.

B. Access to the site via MBTA bus service

The DEIR includes a proposal for MBTA bus service within the site, including a stop on Tomesello Drive near the entrance to Casino Area II, but bus service on Route 1A is not addressed in the DEIR. MBTA bus service should be more completely examined, as it could significantly affect access to the site from throughout the region. In addition, it could affect internal site pathways – their alignments, construction standards and levels of potential use.

1.   MBTA bus service within the site has not been detailed to explain off-site routings and their consolidated or separate connections into the site. Such bus service might supplement private carriers such as the anticipated dedicated charter buses and shuttles from Logan airport, nearby business districts and other major tourist, cultural and travel venues in Boston, Revere, and the surrounding region. MBTA bus service should be more clearly explained as a possible option, including potential routes that might be devoted to accessing the casino/racetrack on this site from a variety of locations.

2.  MBTA bus service along Route 1A should be more thoroughly explored. Currently, MBTA service on Route 1A consists primarily of express buses which run between Salem, Lynn and Boston or the airport. Route 1A may also be an appropriate route for bus service that serves this site and could affect the attractiveness of public transit options.

3.  Future Route 1A bus service might stop near the site’s principal entrance at Tomesello Drive. Bus stop locations would need to be closely coordinated with proposed traffic signals at Route 1A and Tomesello Drive because pedestrians would cross Route 1A using this signal. It is likely that a separate pedestrian phase at the signal would be needed.

4.  Route 1A bus stops at Tomesello Drive should be connected to all pedestrian paths leading to the casino and racetrack. A primary, well-marked pedestrian path is essential and should be located on the same side of Tomesello Drive as a bus stop. It should be well designed, attractive to walkers, safe, well lit, and signed to reassure visitors that they are on the right track. Ideally, the pedestrian path should be separated from the bicycle path. Distances in time might be added to encourage walking along this route. It is about a 10-minute walk from Route 1A to the entrance to Casino II.

5.      Late night MBTA transit service should be considered to serve both patrons and staff. This may require subsidies by the proponent to support increased transit service that would not otherwise be provided by the MBTA, such as late night Blue Line service or bus shuttles from Downtown Boston. Late night service would help shift workers and patrons away from private vehicles.

C. High Quality Design, Amenities and Year Round Maintenance

WalkBoston assumes that the proponent will commit to providing the levels of landscaping, lighting, security, snow shoveling and maintenance needed to make transit riders, pedestrians and bicyclists feel invited, safe and comfortable year-round. Because the site is so large, and the length and number of pathways and sidewalks are so substantial, this will require a serious commitment of resources. WalkBoston believes that this investment is needed to ensure that the proponent’s projection that 15% of trips to the site will occur via the Blue Line. As noted above, we urge the proponent to also investigate the potential to shift additional trips to public buses.

D. Pedestrian paths through the property

WalkBoston is pleased to see the attention paid to walking paths through the property. Each of the paths are discussed below.

1.  The path between Suffolk Downs MBTA Station and the South Plaza is the site’s prime example of walking/biking path separation. Separate paths are preferred by both walkers and bikers and should be considered for the other paths on the site. The path follows a new street called Blue Line Road that will provide access for the shuttle bus between transit and the casino and other facilities. The physical layout includes a 23’ roadway, with an 8’ two-way bikeway immediately adjacent to it. An 8’ two-way walkway is separated from the bikeway by a 6’ wide greenway and from the horse track by an 18’ landscaped buffer and fenced grassy area.

2.  The path along the edge of the racetrack connects directly with the station path described above and provides one part of a connection that traverses the entire site from south to north, on a route that follows the edge of the racetrack, past the apron, the paddock for parading horses and the grandstand. It connects to the Sales Creek Path and the path leading along the edge of the North Parking Lot and to Winthrop Drive at north edge of the project site. This long attractive walking route could potentially be of significant use as a recreation trail. However, the DEIR calls for ‘controlled’ use of the path, and the degree to which public access will be allowed should be explained in detail.

3. Possible pedestrian connections to Orient Heights. The edge of the proponent’s site is separated from Orient Heights by a steep grade along most of its southern boundary. However, at one location, near the point where Tomesello Drive currently makes a 90- degree turn, the grades of Tomesello Drive and Waldemar Avenue coincide. If the residents of Orient Heights are interested, the project proponent should explore new pedestrian access at this location to provide a connection into the South Parking Lot which would allow pedestrians to walk via on-site pedestrian paths and sidewalks between Orient Heights and the Suffolk Downs facilities and the shopping area along the west side of Tomasello Drive.

4. Path connections meet at the South Plaza, where there is a major entrance into the casinos. This is where the path from the Suffolk Downs MBTA station and from the South Parking Lot connect with the Winter Garden entrance and the link between the casino areas and the North Plaza. The plaza is proposed to be a shaded space with adjacent activities such as a sidewalk café. It has a good model – the Lincoln Center grove of trees – and affords a place to walk, with ample sitting areas where people can wait to meet others arriving at the south entrance, or take an outdoor break from other activities. The South Plaza is also called out as a location for active events. A description of the possible events should be provided, as they may affect the layout and pedestrian use of the plaza.

5. The path between the Route 1A site entrance and Casino Area II is a handsome entrance amenity for the site. It will become especially important if bus service and bus stops are added at Route 1A. The total distance from Route 1A to the entrance to Casino Area II is approximately 2,400’ – about a 10-minute walk. At the moment there are two paths proposed, passing through areas to be extensively landscaped around restored water areas. The paths could readily become parts of the East Boston Greenway.
However, the alignment of the walks may need attention for walker safety. The current location of the walks, though parallel to Tomesello Drive, is some 50’ away from it. This distance may be too far for walkers to feel safe. Many designers suggest that pedestrians should be visible from the roadway and that they should be able to reach the roadway in case of an emergency. A more suitable distance, predicated on safety, should be explored.
It may also be useful to explore if both of these walkways through this pleasant green area are essential. One walkway, located along the desire line of people expected to use it between the bus stops on Route 1A and the casinos, may be all that is needed. The proposed bollard lighting system sounds promising and should be help provide maximum safety for walkers.

6. Paths from Route 1A lead to the plaza/main entrance to Casino Area II where significant vehicular access is proposed. Four lanes serve the entry point and there are direct connections into the underground parking beneath Casino II for this valet parking area. At this entry point, a large roof above the vehicle lanes (called a porte cochere) provides weather protection. Because many vehicles, including taxis, will arrive on each of the four lanes, it will be important to know how pedestrians will be able to safely walk between their cars and the entrance to the casino. (This area is similar to the drop off and pick up area at airport terminals, where many pedestrians are required to walk across a number of lanes of arriving and departing vehicles.)
An additional question concerns direct access for people arriving from Route 1A or from the MBTA Station on foot. The current plan includes an indirect route for the approaching walkway rather than a more direct route. People who have walked from Route 1A should not be asked to walk several hundred feet out of their way when they can see the entrance clearly ahead of them.

7.  Paths along Tomesello Drive north of the casino area are proposed for the west side of Tomesello Drive as far as the traffic circle entrance to the parking garage and North Plaza. On the east side of Tomesello Drive, paths are shown from Route 1A all the way to Winthrop Ave. The path on the east side is separated from the road by an 8’ buffer; on the west side it is not clear whether a buffer is provided. The paths are 14’ wide and are twoway shared bike-ped facilities. A planted 6’ wide slope separates the path from the parking bays north of the parking garage. Overhead lighting is designed to provide illumination that differs between the roadway and the path.
The proponent should consider whether the proposed path on the west side of Tomesello Drive is essential for access to any part of the site, and whether it will see much use.

8. Path connections at the North Plaza will serve significant numbers of visitors who will enter both casinos via this large square. The plaza provides access for all bus and limo shuttle services at a scale that indicates that many buses are anticipated. At the north end of the plaza there is a weather-protected drop-off location where individual drivers can access Casino Area I and the racetrack. Access to Casino Area II is provided at the south end of the plaza through the Winter Garden.
The North Plaza is approximately 500 feet long and 200’ wide, encompassing 2.2 acres. It is laid out with two lanes of traffic surrounding it (suggesting a one-way pattern of traffic movement) with adjacent sidewalks for loading and unloading visitors to the sidewalks adjacent to the casino entrances. Vehicular access into and out of the plaza is provided by four lanes of traffic that connect the plaza and the large parking garage to Tomesello Drive. No pedestrian paths are provided along these routes.
The plaza is designated as an event space and viewing area, which is still undefined. The side of the plaza abutting the Grandstand and Casino Area I appears to have the widest sidewalk leading directly into the casinos. This is where many of the bus and shuttle services are likely to discharge and pick up passengers. On the opposite side of the plaza is the large parking garage. Rather undefined sketches show the first floor of this garage as a future retail area.
It will be important to design the North Plaza so that pedestrians have a pleasant and safe walking experience. Especially important will be the provision of visual interest for the very tall and lengthy facades and the provision of landscaping to provide walkerfriendly scale and materials. To clearly separate pedestrians from vehicles, safety improvements such as bollards, seating areas between the line of trees, and different treatments of sidewalk surfaces should be considered. To make the area more interesting for walkers entering the casinos, the west wall of the Grandstand facing this long sidewalk might considered for the installation of art or information diagrams or posters.
It is also important to ensure that air circulation systems diminish the accumulation of exhaust fumes from the many vehicles in the plaza.

9. Paths to and through the parking structure should be detailed. A second-level walkway connects the garage directly into Casino Area II, but access from the garage to Casino Area I and the racetrack involves crossing the busy North Plaza at crosswalks. These crosswalks should be designed for the safety of walkers passing through the traffic bringing visitors to the site.

10. The path between the North Plaza and the North Parking Lot is a long, straight walkway serving users of the 1,468 parking spaces. A tree-lined path connects all of the site’s activities to the shopping area west of Tomasello Drive. As a unique on-site feature, transverse swales across the parking lot are planned to direct storm water runoff into the underground drainage system. It is unclear if these swales will be landscaped. As currently planned, there are four transverse swale areas laid out to separate every three or four rows of parking and to collect runoff through their permeable surfaces. For each of these transverse swale areas, the opportunity exists to create shaded walking paths along each swale. A similar opportunity may exist at the South Parking lot.

11.  The Sales Creek Path is approximately 800 feet long, and extends from the racetrack diagonally to Tomesello Drive on a route that parallels an original waterway. This route affords the proponent an opportunity to use the creek as a focus of landscaping to provide screening at the edge of the North Parking Lot, and create a shaded place to walk. It might be possible to extend the landscaping along the creek up to Tomesello Drive on both sides of the street, and use the creek as a major feature that designates the entrance into the site.

 

E. Boardman Street Overpass

A path along the proposed Boardman Street overpass should be constructed to replace the existing sidewalk that parallels Route 1A between Boardman Street and the site entrance. A buffer strip between the sidewalk and the overpass would be desirable, as the overpass is likely to be very busy. Connections into existing adjacent open space and the new sidewalk might be considered in consultation with residents of Orient Heights.

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,

Wendy Landman                                            Robert Sloane
Executive Director                                          Senior Project Manager

Comments on ENF for Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs

Comments on ENF for Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs

March 26, 2013

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

RE:     Comments on ENF for Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs – EEA #15006

Dear Secretary Sullivan:

WalkBoston has reviewed the ENF for Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs. We find agreement with the general design, as it seems directed toward providing safe facilities for pedestrians. A number of design details should be more closely investigated as part of the DEIR. Our comments about those details follow.

Underlying Assumptions
Many of the patrons and staff of the casino complex and racetrack will arrive on foot from transit stations or parking lots. Thus walking should be a significant element of the project design, coordinated with vehicular routes to minimize potential conflicts. Walking, transit and bike use should be maximize d in keeping with the Commonwealth’s goal of tripling the share of walking, biking and transit use. Access to and from the two MBTA stations and the Route 1A bus lines, and access between distant parking locations and the casinos and the racetrack are the primary routes to be addressed. Walking access between the site and adjacent residential areas should also be addressed.

Good information about the projected volumes of pedestrians (and bicycles) should inform the design and size of facilities.
For example, the ENF states that most employees will come to the site via public transportation. While not explicitly stated, we would anticipate that nearly all would walk from the MBTA stations into the site (unless shuttle service is provided). Because the Suffolk Downs Station is considerably closer to the proposed buildings than Beachmont Station, it will likely attract more users. The walkway from the station into the site should be designed to accommodate the anticipated volume of walkers (and bicyclists if they will use the same route) and the projected volumes should be included in the DEIR.

Overall Design Issues to be addressed
The design of walkways and walk routes should be attractive, include high quality landscaping, and feel inviting both day and night, winter and summer. Designs should include:
– A network of short distance walkways to encourage people to walk on site.
– Lighting for safety, using designs that do not spill into residential areas or obscure the night sky
– Safety and security especially given late night operations for employees and patrons, where there are fairly long walks such as the one to the Suffolk Downs MBTA station
– Benches
– Smooth surfaces on all walkways
– Year round maintenance including snow shoveling
– Shade while walking to the casinos and hotels
– In New England, inclement weather is inevitable, suggesting the possibility of providing shelters or coverings along walkways, or alternative means of reaching destinations, such as a shuttle bus service
– Wayfinding for pedestrians – Signage should be employed as fully as possible to help pedestrians find their routes within this very large site. Signs would also encourage the use of MBTA bus routes and subway facilities, and should be used to designate access points in the event an on-site bus shuttle service is provided. Other off-site locations of interest should be included, such as the Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, Revere Beach and potentially the Target/Super Stop and Shop complex , the racetrack’s horse barns and other sites that might improve the experience of nearby residents as well as patrons of the casinos, the racetrack, and the hotels.
– Parking lots should be designed attractively, with trees and with defined walking paths that are separated from moving vehicle areas within the lots

Multi-use path design.
The paths on the site that are walking/biking multi-use paths should provide appropriate widths to allow for safe shared use. MassDOT standards (Mass Highway Department Project Development and Design Guide, 2006), call for multi-use paths to be 10—14 feet wide to accommodate both pedestrians and bicycles, and for wider facilities if substantial volumes of foot and bike traffic are anticipated.

Tomasello Way/Rte 1A intersection and Tomasello Way Design
Bus service
Bus service along Rte 1A is already substantial. Routes along the roadway connect Salem Center, Marblehead and Peabody Square to Haymarket and Downtown Crossing – 6 bus routes in total. Well-designed and highly-visible bus stops, along with weather-protecting shelters, should be included in the revamping of the intersection of the Tomasello Way/Rte 1A intersection.
Signals and crosswalks
In keeping with the intersection’s importance as the front door of the proposed development, the intersection will need to be fully signalized for safety for all users, including pedestrians who will be crossing Rte 1A to and from the new bus stops and shelters. In the re-signalization of the intersection, pedestrian count-down signals should be employed.
Access between the intersection and the on-site facilities
The proposal includes a major pedestrian way leading from the intersection of Tomasello Way and Rte 1A into the main entrance to the casinos, the racetrack and the hotels. It appears to be useful and attractive, but it must be made safe for walkers and is worthy of significant improvements to make it safe. According to the preliminary drawings, the walkway will be located in the median strip of the rebuilt south portion of Tomasello Way. This is a formal design that could be handsome, but it results in a strip of walkway in the median that could be difficult for walkers to access, because it requires them to cross roadways on both ends of the walkway – near Rte 1A and at the casino/racetrack entrances, as well as at intermediate locations in between – five crosswalks in all. A better solution might be to have the pedestrian way located on the south side of Tomasello Way, with more direct access across the street at a point where the walkway is closest to the casino. This would reduce potential pedestrian/vehicle conflicts along the full length of this stretch of Tomasello Way.
Amenities along Tomasello Way 
Pedestrians walking via Tomasello Way have a relatively long walk between Rte 1A and the site (roughly equivalent to 3-4 city blocks). The preliminary drawings show lines of trees that will be very appropriate to make a pleasant walk. Seating along the way would also make the route more attractive and allow people to rest as they make their way to the casinos or the racetrack.
A sidewalk connecting Tomasello Way and Waldemar Avenue in Orient Heights
A wholly new but short on-site sidewalk connecting Tomasello Way and Waldemar Avenue would allow Orients Heights residents to reach the bus stops at the intersection of Rte 1A and Tomasello Way, and to be able to walk to the casinos or the racetrack.
A roadway connecting Tomasello Way to Waldemar Avenue in Orient Heights
Consideration of a sidewalk connecting Tomasello Way and Waldemar Avenue should include examination of a future road connection as well. A new, relatively short street to link Tomasello Way to Waldemar Avenue could reduce problems at the intersection of Waldemar Avenue and Route 1A near the Tomasello Way entrance to the site because it would allow Orient Heights access to be diverted to the Tomasello Way entrance to the site. The connection could include options for improving the safety of nearby residents:
– Waldemar Avenue could become a dead-end street before reaching Rte 1A; or
– It could be made one-way inbound toward the residences; or
– It might be connected to Vallar Road if gradients are favorable.

The continuation of Tomasello Way to the Suffolk Downs MBTA station
A driveway currently exists along the proponent’s property line between the Rte 1A entrance to the site and the small turnaround space in front of Suffolk Downs T station. The west half of this route has been covered above. However, the future of the east half of the driveway is unclear, even though it could be used for vehicular and pedestrian traffic as part of the larger plan. An explanation should be provided as to:
– Whether this driveway will become an access roadway providing service both to the south entrance to the casino, and to the Suffolk Downs MBTA Station.
–  Whether this driveway will be extended to connect into the local roadways of Orient Heights, such as Waldemar Avenue, Walley Street and Bonito Square. This connection could relatively easily reach Bennington Street as well, and could become a major route for vehicles entering or leaving the site.
–  Whether an improvement is planned for the pedestrian component of the service plaza at the MBTA Station.
–  What the pedestrian connections along this roadway will become, as it provides a major walkway between the MBTA station and the casinos and hotels. This connection might also be used to enhance direct access from neighborhood walkways into the station.

Pedestrian access from off-site locations
Pedestrian access between Orient Heights and a potential Route 1A bus stop at Boardman Avenue.
A partial interchange is proposed for the intersection of Boardman Avenue (Route 145) and Route 1A. The proposal calls for a northbound overpass above Rte 1A to pass over the turning between Rte 1A and Boardman Avenue. The overpass design and focus of turning traffic at the intersection suggests some difficult crossings for pedestrians from Orient Heights. Bus stop access for pedestrians should be explored as part of the proposed partial interchange. It may be possible to link Boardman Street access to the bus stop at Tomasello Way.
Pedestrian access between Orient Heights and the Target/Super Stop and Shop complex
The ENF notes that walkers from Orient Heights need to cross the Suffolk Downs site to get to the shopping complex located near the intersection of Tomasello Way and Furlong Drive, which are important businesses for Orient Heights residents to use. Data support-ing this suggestion would be useful. The multi-use path along Tomasello Way will improve this walk. From a pedestrian point-of-view, the suggested location of the walkway on the east side of Tomasello Way results in pedestrians from Orient Heights crossing at least 6 streets on route to the shopping complex, unless they follow the alternative walking route that hugs the buildings. The proponent should examine whether the walkway could be moved to the west side of Tomasello Way to reduce the number of crossings. Pedestrians walking along Tomasello Way should also be protected from walking through either of the two roundabouts at the approach to the hotels and casinos. Roundabouts are not very safe for pedestrian because of the potential conflicts with turning vehicles.
Pedestrian access between Crescent Heights and the Target/Super Stop and Shop complex
Residents of the Crescent Heights neighborhood at the north edge of the site could also reach the shopping area via the Tomasello Way walkway.
Racetrack walkway to the Target/Super Stop and Shop complex
The plan includes a walkway between the racetrack and the Target/Super Stop and Shop via the edge of the northern parking lots. The intersection of this walkway and Tomasello Way should be moved slightly to align with the front entrance to the shopping complex. The volume of foot traffic at this intersection may be low, but further exploration may suggest the need for a traffic signal with WALK signals.

Potential shuttle bus service
Shuttle buses should be considered to help people get around and to provide options during inclement weather. Options for shuttle bus stops include main entrances to the casino and race track, the Suffolk Downs and Beachmont MBTA stations, bus stops on Route 1A at Tomasello Way, the bus stop on Winthrop Avenue, and for access to the more remote parking areas. Facilities to support shuttle bus service may include the addition of a turnaround area in front of Suffolk Downs MBTA Station and a u-turn on Tomasello Way just short of Route 1A. Shuttles may also be useful to serve future night transit service on the Blue Line and elsewhere.

Local Community Benefits – pedestrian improvements at other locations
The ENF includes suggestions that certain improvements outlined by the Lower North Shore Traffic Study of 2000 could be included as part of the mitigation for the construction of this facility. Although no detail has been supplied on these locations, they appear to include intersections at Route 16 at Winthrop Avenue/Harris Street, the vicinity of the Beachmont MBTA Station in Revere, in the vicinity of Route 16/Route 1A/Bell Circle in Revere, and, in East Boston, at Bennington & Saratoga Streets at Orient Heights MBTA station and Boardman St. in East Boston. Many of these improvements have been requested by the affected communities and will need to be detailed in further submittals to show potential impacts on pedestrians.

We appreciate your consideration of our comments and your responses to them. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director