Another opportunity to make Cambridge Street more safe, attractive, and accessible

After 6 months of feedback from residents, community groups, and transportation advocates, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will provide an update on Tuesday for the Cambridge Street overpass project in Allston.

Tuesday, January 14
6 pm
Jackson Mann Community Center, 500 Cambridge Street, Allston
https://www.facebook.com/events/1446934668862883/

The $10 million replacement of the bridge deck is needed where Cambridge Street crosses over the Mass Pike near Harvard Ave and Linden Street to make the bridge structurally safe. The northern sidewalk of the bridge has been closed for several years and chunks of concrete have fallen from the overpass onto the Mass Pike.

In November, more than 150 people attended a meeting about this project and major improvements to the proposed design made since then include a signalized pedestrian crossing at the top of the Mansfield Street stairs and a cycletrack physically separated from the car traffic. However, cyclist/pedestrian conflicts could be an issue because the proposed design has only one foot of textured concrete dividing the cycletrack and sidewalk.

A 6' high fence in the median between the eastbound and westbound lanes remains in the proposed design, despite an overwhelming public response opposing such a fence.

Get updates & discuss the project at https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllstonFootbridge/
Follow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/fixcambridgestr

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Comments

Crossing and fence

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If they actually install a real, signaled crossing at Mansfield Street, then I don't have an objection to the fence.

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crossing near footbridge?

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What about crossing between Linden/Highgate and the Franklin Street footbridge?

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that is where a crossing is most needed but...

The public requested a signalized mid-block crossing near Linden Street at the June 2013 Public Hearing.
MassDOT investigated the feasibility of crossing at this location and determined that it would not create a crossing here because:
– Crossing location does not meet Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices standards for distance between signalized intersections (too close to the Harvard Ave intersection)
– Pedestrian counts did not warrant installation of a traditional traffic signal at this location
– Minimum volumes required for consideration of a pedestrian hybrid beacon were met
– Engineering judgment determined off-peak use presented a safety hazard to pedestrians

Importantly, MassDOT has agreed to conduct a full evaluation of existing pedestrian and bicycle facilities between North Allston and Allston Village as part of I-90 Viaduct Interchange Improvement Project. Hopefully this will lead to a complete replacement of the Franklin Street Footbridge with a safer and ADA-compliant new connection.

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How many crissings do we need?

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My understanding is the the "Mansfield Street" crossing with lights, and curb cuts will be at the top of the stairs and be quite close to the end of Linden Street. It seems a small amount out of the way to cross there, instead of at the Franklin street footbridge. I think that one "top of the overpass" crossing is fine, and a reasonable compromise.

I will note, that since they intend to allow traffic to turn left onto Highgate, there will be a break in the fence there and folks will cross anyhow...

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3 1/2 minute detour & more dangerous

If you are walking from where the Franklin St footbridge meets the Cambridge St sidewalk to the bus stop at the end of Linden Street, it is a 270 yard detour to use the proposed crosswalk at the Mansfield Street stairs. For most people that will take 3.5 to 4 minutes to walk.

As you note, even with a median fence people will cross Cambridge Street where the median ends at Highgate St. A median fence will make this crossing more dangerous, not more safe. Why? Because the existing fence-less median serves as a pedestrian refuge where people can safely wait to cross the other half of the road.

The Federal Highway Administration notes that "By providing raised medians and pedestrian refuge islands, we can bring these crash numbers down, prevent injuries, and save lives." FHWA guidance further states that medians/refuge islands should be at least 4 feet wide. But a fence in the median makes the median effectively 3 feet wide on each side of the fence. A lower quality, less functional median will make the crossing less safe than it is today.

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Give us a legitmate reason

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not to install a fence. And "But it'll make the bridge look ugly" and "Pedestrians need to illegally cross the street mid-span" don't count.

There should be fences

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There should be fences between every location and every other location. That would cut down on the number of pedestrians who go places.

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Beijing actually did this

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I know you were joking but...

On my second trip to Beijing in 2010, I was dismayed to see that most pedestrian heavy areas (at least in the Chaoyang section) got brand new gates to funnel would-be jaywalkers to crosswalks at intersections. I was perfectly comfortable with Beijing's Frogger-like pedestrian culture when I lived there in 2005, and the Bostonian in me just couldn't stomach walking all the way around a very large block to cross a street.

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I don't think it's possible

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to make Cambridge St. or Allston for that matter more attractive, short of maybe a suitcase nuke. Seriously, I've always felt like I stumbled upon some movie set for a distopic sifi movie or an old Twilight Zone episode whenever I'm in Allston. It is what it is.

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Location