Allston residents to MassDOT: Cambridge Street isn't Rte. 9

Large turnout for bridge meeting

Large turnout for Cambridge Street session.

Pedestrian safety, physically separated cycle tracks, and opposition to a proposed fence were front-and-center last night in Allston at a Massachusetts Department of Transportation meeting about the reconstruction of Cambridge Street between Harvard Avenue and Lincoln Street.

More than 150 people attended the meeting, including Allston residents, business owners and transportation experts. Many wore stickers that read "Union Square to the Charles River:" A common theme was that MassDOT and the city of Boston, which both own parts of the road, need to come together on a plan to improve all of the Cambridge Street.

State officials say the bridge needs repairs - the sidewalk on the north side of the span has been closed for more than three years for safety reasons. But while many residents supported parts of the MassDOT project last night, many vociferously opposed such state ideas as building a six-foot high fence for 400 feet down the center of the rebuilt span. People also questioned the lack of pedestrian crossings between Lincoln and Harvard.

"I hope there will be another meeting so that we can make and wear 'f**k the fence' T-shirts," one resident said.

Many attendees also urged MassDOT to do more to make the area safer and more attractive. Pete Stidman of the Boston Cyclists Union suggested that physical barriers to protect the bike lanes would be much safer than the painted stripes proposed by MassDOT.

Comments on this project are due to MassDOT by December 4 to dot.feedback.highway@stat[email protected] and should reference Project File Number 606376. More information about the project is available at this site.

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Comments

How would I turn left from a

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How would I turn left from a bike sidepath? I'd have to dismount and cross as a pedestrian.

Who would make sure a sidepath was clear after a snow storm? I biked on Cambridge Street the day after the blizzard last year. But most bike sidepaths around here remain blocked for *weeks* after a storm, despite promises they'd be cleared.

At least this stretch of Cambridge Street has no driveways, very few intersections, and not a lot of pedestrians. Those are what really make sidepaths dangerous.

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And for those of us that aren

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And for those of us that aren't fit 20 something males which don't want to ride next to 40-50mph truck traffic? Oh yeah, we should just drop dead. Typical selfish vehicular cyclist.

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Why do you think you have to

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Why do you think you have to be 20-something and male to use an on-street bike lane, when they're far safer than sidewalk paths for everyone involved?

And your hostility is unwarranted. I'm trying to come up with ideas for a safe, community-friendly solution that works for everyone.

How about lighting instead of a barrier?

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That median is extremely poorly lit. The lane lines aren't well painted, nor is the curb on that median, so effectively on a dark night or if it's raining, you're driving blind.

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Fence is a great idea

Why do people object to the fence. It's a vital safety feature. Due to vertical elevation changes, pedestrians crossing the road can't be seen in time by motorists resulting in injuries or death. There is no place to go to on the other side of the median fence, so let pedestrians cross at the much safer places at either end. Its little different from fencing off railroad tracks to protect people, despite themselves.

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This bit of Cambridge street

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This bit of Cambridge street is basically an overpass, with a few commercial abutters . What do these folks want , a greenway ? And a dedicated bike lane with physical barriers,what like miniature jersey barriers? And a miniature snow blower next? With the financial state of affairs , they are lucky to get hot top.

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It doesn't have to be

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This section of Cambridge Street looks like it does because of state transportation policies for the last 50 years. There is really no traffic requirement that it be a highway style overpass. In fact the number of pedestrians and bicyclists that use this road is actually quite high, but you wouldn't know it because those users tend to get lost in the fray.

A major point of the "Union Square to the Charles River" movement is that Allston (and especially North Allston) is displeased with what the feel of the road has done to the commercial district along the northern stretch (it has prevented all but, as you put it, a few commercial abutters, from setting up shop, and it has hurt property values immensely). Since this bridge is a major part of that corridor, it makes sense to look at how to make it a more pedestrian-friendly piece of infrastructure now, when we have the chance.

And as an aside, I don't think there's really ever an excuse to have roads in the city with that "highway overpass" feel EVER, except maybe a few feet from the end of an actual highway exit ramp. It's totally unnecessary, it's an eyesore, it pollutes, and it hurts the neighborhood.

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That area at one time had a

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That area at one time had a Sears Roebuck distribution warehouse , a railroad container/ trailering yard , a Mass Pike double trailer breaker yard , a chemical tank farm, a concrete company around the corner, amongst other industries. It also feeds the Mass Pike east and west. It was very heavy duty. That's the way it was , before most people at that hearing were. I dont know what people expect. Not everything moves by email . What''s next ? no more ship work at the C Town Navy yard, sheesh !

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The next 50 years

You are describing what Cambridge St was like for the last 50 years. Almost all of those uses are already gone. Within one-half mile of this overpass there will be more than $1 billion of new development in the next 10 years by New Balance & Harvard. The Cambridge Street we have today is not the Cambridge Street that should sit in the middle of this rapidly-approaching new Allston/Brighton.

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It still doesnt change the

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It still doesnt change the fact that it is an overpass ,so how much do you think the highway lads can do with it anyway? They might deck over Lansdowne street and Brookline ave and create real estate value in Kenmore, do you think that is going to happen there? As an aside, pertinent to that area, how many people remember Sonny at Clemens market at the corner of N Harvard and his service to the nation?

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How much could be done?

http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2013/09/16/mayoral-candidates-r...
Discuss one idea on how you would make Boston’s roadways more beautiful.

Landscaping and greenspace, including flower pots and trees, could make a big difference. Small changes can make Boston’s concrete jungle much less menacing... Those big planters on Boylston Street near Mass. Ave always looks nice. There’s no reason why we can’t do something similar everywhere.

http://www.eldo.us/public-art-studio/pedestrian-strands/

http://www.columbusunderground.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Town-Stree...

http://www.redding.com/news/2009/sep/12/highway-44-overpass-features-art...

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What is an overpass?

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I'm not exactly clear on what this term "overpass" even means. The only thing that really comes to mind is an elevated highway connecting one interstate highway to another with no possibility of commercial or residential development in the immediate vicinity. This bridge, which connects North Allston to Lower Allston does not meet any of those criteria.

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An overpass is a bridge

Bridges are most commonly over water. An overpass is a bridge over other types of travelways than water. Overpasses can be for just pedestrians, trains, motor vehicles, or combinations. Given cost and structural strength constraints, tarting up and adding excess weight to bridges isn't practical or a wise allocation of limited funds.

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Are you a structural engineer?

What are the structural strength considerations?

The sloped sections of Cambridge Street leading up to the bridge deck are built on dirt, so there are no structural constraints there.

DOT has put dozens of jersey barriers on the bridge deck which weigh thousands of pounds each. What you call "tarting up" would weigh much less than those jersey barriers.

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Clemon's market

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You mean FROG LEGS FROG LEGS BONOLESS RABBITS FROG LEGS? Fondly remembered. I think it is STILL Allston Slang to say, "Hey, it's almost 11! I've got to run out to frog legs!"

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Then don't cripple transportation

If there is all sorts of development on the way, the last thing wanted is to cripple development with constrained transportation. If residents don't want traffic, halt development and job creation.

The overpass was overbuilt to

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The overpass was overbuilt to begin with. The streets it connects do not warrant or need the capacity or speed the current disaster of an overpass provides.

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Wrong

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Historically, the area around Cambridge Street and Harvard Avenue was the first part of Allston to be urbanized, thanks to the Allston depot. The railroad tracks did create a divide but they were not as wide as the current canyon. The buildings there date to the 1880s and were once the center of a lively district, rather than being used for storage. The current decay is partially a consequence of the construction of the Mass Pike extension in the mid-1960s. And it was never mitigated properly.

You are also wrong because the industrial uses that you are talking about all occurred at the eastern extent of Cambridge Street, but that is not within the scope of the current repair project.

IMAGE(http://www.bahistory.org/HarvardAveCambridgeStc1910_Lo.jpg)
IMAGE(http://www.bahistory.org/HarvardAveLibraryc1926BPL%20Lo.jpg)

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" You are also wrong because

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" You are also wrong because the industrial uses that you are talking about all occurred at the eastern extent of Cambridge Street, but that is not within the scope of the current repair project."

Are you kidding me ? Cambridge street connects all that, feeds the Mass Pike, and further to your east , leads into Cambridge. You think it is bad now , wait until they develop Beacon Park. There is a lot of volume there. That section you point out with precision is an overpass over the Mass Pike. Its not some la da la garden parkway. Pour some concrete sidewalks , spread some hot top , and there you go. There is just no $$$ for all these neighborhood extortions that seem to try to attach themselves to any improvements. If it is so dangerous , find a way to go up Everett street and avoid the area. Its an overpass in a busy busy area.

Do you think they are

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Do you think they are relocating the Mass Pike so they can build a chemical factory on the land? You must be smoking some real bad chemicals yourself.

That area, with Beacon Park, is going to turn into a bunch of major pedestrian generators. And the industrial uses which you talked about -- all from the EASTERN part of Cambridge Street -- will all be long gone.

So it's more important than ever to be sure that Cambridge Street is a safe place to walk.

The dirty 1970s are long over, long dead, thank goodness. Good riddance to that attitude.

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Do you work inn the private

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Do you work in the private sector , or do you even work ? Don't you get it, it is an overpass over a major US highway that CONNECTS a feeder to that highway, and also a commercial area and a former very active industrial area, as well as a rail yard. Stop the east of it bullshit like it is isolated by itself, it is part of something. It is not some section of the Greenway where you can place a ferris wheel and have a carnival. All this wonderful work that you think Harvard will do in Beacon Park is light years away, they have over extended themselves ( see story on this years endowments , google it , ) , plus Harvard still has to tidy up down the street at the other end of N Harvard street. And now there is also a petition to mess with the gasoline tax. Did you ever hear of the BIG DIG ? Where do you think the money trees are to do all this ? This area is sparsely residential. It was what it was , and it is what it is. Pour some concrete , spread some hot top , paint a few lines, that's all you are going to get. If speeding cars piss you off , go down to 14 and make a complaint . If you want a greenway and brick sidewalks and windmill trash compactors , go extort Harvard ( which is going to happen anyway ) when they try to develop Beacon Park. And stop wasting helium for your balloons , we need it for the MRI machine, its supply is dwindling. Maybe you don't like the 70's version of that area , but there were a lot of jobs in that area. Not everything can be emailed. And there were a lot of trucks rolling over that area , going west ,all the way to NY and beyond. Think of that next time you pick up something to wear or eat or internet on. And if that area is just a no mans area , avoid it. There is no more OPM to spend !

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You are wrong, deal with it

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[grumping omitted]

You may not care much about Allston, but lots of people do live here and do care about it. At least 150 people showed up at the public meeting, and over a 3 hour comment period, expressed their will for the street to be done right. For it to be a connector, not a divider. To be a neighborhood street, not "just" an overpass of a highway.

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Deal with it? What's that ,

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Deal with it? What's that , some sort of hipster krptonite you are flinging at me? Its an overpass ,all you want to do is spend other peoples money to make it something special . Hot top , concrete , and a bit of paint ,we have to move on and try to run a civilization here. The money trees have no more leaves.

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We want a street that allows

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We want a street that allows safe use for all the people who use and pay for it. With finances being what they are , motorists are lucky they are getting a repaired highway or street (depending on how it done) before it falls apart, whereas pedestrians have been unable to use parts of it for 3 years, not the state cared.

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This Bit Of Cambridge Street Is Not An Overpass

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..it's a special place where pedestrians and cyclists inadvertently go to die. Note that even the autogenerated sidebar stories on THIS PAGE are smeared with blood shed at the exact location that this community is concerned abouyt. It may look like an overpass to you, but it's the only thing connecting an extremely residential neighborhood with the businesses where its residents eat, drink, shop, catch the bus and work. A miniature snow blower, though it sounds super, super cute is not a major priority. Being able to walk to the bus stop, bike home from the grocery store, or watch a ball game at a bar in your own neighborhood without risking your life or having walk a mile and half out of your way to cross the street is pretty much all these folks want.

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I commute from Braintree St.

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I commute from Braintree St. every night at around 5pm and it's a VERY dangerous intersection (Harvard Ave and Cambridge St). I find many cyclists following both the pedestrian and vehicle laws, depending on their convenience. I think that getting some sort of police officer to help control traffic during rush hour would help this momentously. I always wait for the crosswalk and then practically get pinned by a biker who thinks he/she is also a pedestrian. There is no alternate route for me to get home so a safer commute would be nice.

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Don't blame the bicyclists

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The problem is that the way this intersection is designed, it is very difficult for a bicyclist to safely make a left turn because it requires them to make their way across two very busy lanes of traffic, one of which usually decides to go straight onto Cambridge Street. Yes, technically is possible to do it correctly, but most bicyclists really only really feel safe going during the walk signal. I also think you'd find (based on my personal experience) that if you were to put a traffic cop there, they would just tell the cyclists to go left during the walk signal. That's what they do everywhere else in the city.

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Indeed, MassDOT's current

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Indeed, MassDOT's current design appears to expect bicyclists to use the all-way exclusive walk phase.

I think it's rather strange that "anon" here is not the least bit concerned about the dangerous motor vehicle traffic whizzing by at 40+ mph, and the long list of crashes caused by reckless drivers, as Scott Matalon can and did attest.

Blindness to the real danger shows that the above "anon" comment is probably a troll.

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Are these numerous accidents documented?

Are police accident reports available on-line to read? Seems not, as even road designers don't read them to design corrective action that might have prevented common causes. Instead, they pull out standard features to apply to designs. Features that may or may not be effective. I've seen it too many times. Safety is held up as a primary goal, yet the design often doesn't address the actual safety problems occurring at a location.

An example is the Arlington Center "safety" project. There are basically few to no documented pedestrian and bicycle accidents, and above average motor vehicle crashes. That design doesn't address the MV crashes, instead focusing on what isn't a problem, pedestrian and bicycle safety. There isn't even data showing bicyclists riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks has produced accidents. Why waste lots of money segregating bicyclists from pedestrians for two blocks in Arlington Center when they aren't on the other 11 miles of the Minuteman?

Careful examination of accident reports and suggested fixes needs to be required for project designs.

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Mark, you are being a real

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Mark, you are being a real pro car asshole about a place you don't live and don't drive through which has REPEATEDLY been the site of vehicular manslaughter as reported here. The city and MassDOT both consider it one of the most dangerous intersections in the city and it has been a finger pointing game over funding to fix it.

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to: anon on Thu, 11/21/2013 - 5:17pm

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How do you define a pro car asshole? Someone who owns a car to get to the job they work at so they can earn a paycheck? Do you know how many people live in the city of Boston, but whose employer is outside of the city? PLENTY. People who use cars to get to work are apparently pro car assholes! What about parents who use a car to drive their kids to the doctor or pick them up from soccer practice after dark? Are they pro car assholes? You need a reality check, anon on Thu, 11/21/2013 - 5:17pm.
You do realize that Adam who owns and runs this site lives in the city and owns car, right? Is he a pro car asshole too? I'm there fore shocked, SHOCKED, that you would deign to leave a comment on uhub! You do realize that one of the most vocal cyclist advocates on this site, swrrly grrl, owns a car and doesn't even live in the city, right? Is swrrly a pro car asshole too? She doesn't live in the city and owns a car so you must think her opinions are not valid! Do you only befriend people who do not own cars? The pizza delivery guy -- is he also a pro car asshole? You might want to rethink your extreme views and see someone about your misdirected anger issues. The roads are safer without you behind a motorized vehicle, that's for sure!

We are talking about an

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We are talking about an OVERBUILT HIGHWAY BRIDGE in the middle of a NEIGHBORHOOD which creates a major public safety issue and has REPEATEDLY KILLED PEOPLE.

You are a pro car asshole if getting across a bridge 3 seconds faster matters more than a human life and the quality of life of the people whom actually live in the neighborhood.

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I do drive through fairly often

I take that overpass fairly often giving rides to St. E's for a couple different people who are not able to bicycle. Naturally, I avoid driving on Harvard St. as much as possible for the awful congestion.

I don't run out in the middle

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I don't run out in the middle of traffic and cyclists are jerks over there! Most definitely not a troll, just a 20-something following the crosswalk rules on the busy and dangerous street! Never said it wasn't an already dangerous intersection, it's just frustrating that cyclists seem to do whatever they want there. Geesh!

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While they are working on it...

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Can they repaint the lanes on northbound Cambridge as it enters the Storrow/Mem Drive interchanges so that the 3 lanes just shift left half a lane?

Why in the hell do the right two lanes end at the same time that the left lane splits in two? It's absolutely moronic and causes all sorts of insanity and headaches.

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January 14 - next Cambridge Street meeting

https://www.facebook.com/events/1446934668862883

MassDOT is hosting a 3rd meeting about the $10 million project to rebuild Cambridge Street between Harvard Ave and Lincoln Street.

January 14, 6pm, Jackson Mann Community Center - 500 Cambridge St

The community attendance and participation at the December meeting was fantastic! On January 14 let's again show MassDOT how much we care about having Allston be more safe, attractive, and accessible.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1446934668862883

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