Tag: crosswalk materials

Comments on Copley Place Expansion, Boston, MA

Comments on Copley Place Expansion, Boston, MA

March 5, 2015
Attn: Christopher Tracy, BRA

RE: Comments on Copley Place Expansion, Boston, MA

WalkBoston submits the following comments on the Copley Place Expansion project design, with a focus on the pedestrians and community design aspects. The expansion to Copley Place will have significant impacts on future pedestrian activity in the project area, which attracts many pedestrians because of numerous hotels, Back Bay Station, Copley Square, the Farmer’s Market, the Public Library, etc. Now is the time and opportunity to make it more pleasant and safer for them. The pedestrian aspects of the site will play an extremely important role in the way the project meshes with its surroundings and with all modes of traffic.

We submit our comments despite the lack of community opportunity to see the plans ahead of time or to have adequate opportunity for input. It might be very useful for community groups to have another opportunity to view the plans.

Intersection of Dartmouth and Stuart Streets
With appropriate signal timing, the changes proposed for this intersection will make it much easier, more direct and safer for pedestrians to cross. It is essential that the WALK – Don’t WALK signals at this intersection be timed for concurrent walk, as they are currently. With these changes, there will no longer be frustrating waits for pedestrians on medians, as the crossings are direct and narrower. As we understand this particular design, it was first proposed and tested in 1995 and found to work well for both traffic and pedestrians. We trust that its basic elements are included in the present plan.

The Southwest Corridor Park
Our understanding is that the plan presented for the street level pedestrian crossing of Dartmouth Street, at the end of the Southwest Corridor Park, is essentially unchanged from the original design. The present excellent signal timing appears to efficiently handle traffic from all modes. This signal timing should be retained and the crossing widened.

The proponent should respect the history of the Southwest Corridor Park in the improvements that are proposed. One approach would be the inclusion near the entrance to the walkways of an 8’x4’ enamel plaque such as the one at Roxbury Crossing, giving the history of the Southwest Corridor project and sites of interest in the vicinity of Copley Place.

Sidewalk along Dartmouth Street at Copley Place
In the vicinity of this project, no sidewalk should be less than 12 feet wide, unobstructed. The best example is the sidewalk that now exists along the façade of Neiman Marcus. Since it is adjacent to the sidewalk, the proposed “winter garden” should supplement pedestrian movements at the edge of the site and be genuinely public, open 24 hours, guaranteed by a legal commitment with consequences for violations.

There should continue to be outside seating, preferably using the same benches, positioned 2 for conversation. The current gradually ramped approach from Dartmouth into the building should be retained and not replaced by steps.

Mass Turnpike exit ramp
WalkBoston requests that the exit from this ramp provide warnings or restrictions so that Turnpike drivers are slowed as they come into this urban area with many pedestrians. These might include painting lanes so that only one lane of cars will exit, adding rumble strips across the roadway or blinking signs inside the tunnel warning Turnpike drivers of their upcoming exit into a busy pedestrian area. The 25 mph warning signs installed some 15 years ago are not emphatic enough to slow cars.

Loop turn for vehicles at the end of the Westin Hotel
WalkBoston supports the narrowing of the loop turn from Huntington to Stuart at the end of the Westin. This improvement results in the elimination of the left turn lane on Huntington and the expansion of the island. It should be designed to be a pleasant park-like area with signs minimized or relocated.

Exeter/Stuart/Huntington/Marriott garage area
As we have previously commented, much more work is needed on the Exeter/Stuart/Huntington/Marriott garage area— implementation of better signal timing, narrowing roadway widths and shortening pedestrian crossings. The blocks of Huntington/Stuart from Mass Ave to Clarendon were widened in the 1960s auto era, and are now too wide open for this dense urban area. Their width and layout encourage traffic to speed and endanger pedestrians. This project should make the cross-section of the street narrower as has been done outbound on Huntington Avenue at Mass. Ave. and on inbound Stuart Street at Clarendon Street.

Harcourt/Huntington/Ring Road intersection
The Harcourt/Huntington/Ring Road intersection should be reshaped and re-signaled, especially since increased volumes of traffic will be using Harcourt Street for access to the proponent’s garage.

Sidewalk and crosswalk materials
All materials used for sidewalks and crosswalks should adhere to standards that have been established under ADA. All sidewalks should be constructed of concrete, using bricks, if desired, only for decoration because of the walking difficulties and hazards they create. Crosswalks in particular should be marked by striping, not pavers, on the roadway pavement. Pavers are hazardous for the disability community, parents with strollers, women with high heels and the elderly.

We urge the City to address these concerns by insisting that the developer show good faith in solving the issues raised by residents of neighboring area. Please feel free to contact us with questions you may have.


Robert Sloane               Ann Hershfang
Senior Planner              Board Member, South End Resident