You may be familiar with the Cambridge Street Overpass in Allston, one of the few crossings over the MassPike connecting that neighborhood to the rest of the city, and one of the most dangerous. The good news is that the bridge will be redesigned and bicycle and pedestrian facilities are being considered. The bad news is that the plan still prioritizes motor vehicles at the expense of other users with some of the proposed design likely to further cut off access to the neighborhood for those not in cars. Unlike the Casey Arborway project in Jamaica Plain where the plan came together after two years of public meetings and working groups, and the public are still participating in 25% and 75% design meetings, the Cambridge Street Overpass plan has been presented as a 100% design with very little time for public comment and input.
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Please send an email TODAY to firstname.lastname@example.org (include a reference to: Project #606376). The text of my message is below.
Project File No. 606376
Attn: Bridge Project Management
July 3, 2013
Thomas F. Broderick, P.E.
Chief Engineer, MassDOT Highway Division
Dear Mr. Broderick,
I’m writing in regards to the proposed design for reconstruction of the Cambridge Street Overpass. I work in Allston and commute from my home in Jamaica Plain, often by bicycle. I’ve long found it inordinately challenging to navigate the crossings of the Massachusetts Turnpike that separate much of the Allston-Brighton neighborhood (as well as traveling to Cambridge beyond) from the rest of the city of Boston. I basically have three options: the Cambridge Street Overpass, the Carlton Street Overpass by the BU Bridge, and Massachusetts Avenue, the latter being the longest journey but also feels the safest because it is not as oriented to motor vehicle exclusivity as the other two options. I’m thrilled to learn that the Cambridge Street Overpass will be redesigned and that the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians will be considered in the new design.
Unfortunately, the plan presented by MassDOT still errs in favor of prioritizing high capacity/high volume motor vehicle traffic at the expense of bicyclists, pedestrians, and the aesthetics of the Allston neighborhood. I believe the project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to both correct the mistakes of the pasts and anticipate the needs of the future. Already, use of automobiles for transportation is declining with nearly half of the households in the area being carfree. The growth of transit-oriented development, increase in costs of fossil fuels, and need to reduce greenhouse gases will continue the downward trend in automobile use. The redesign of the Cambridge Street Overpass can help anticipate future changes by making bicycling and walking irresistible as well as making connections to public transit.
With this in mind, please consider implementing the following changes in the proposed design:
1. A safe pedestrian crossing at Linden Street
2. Improving aesthetic aspects of the project
3. Improvements to proposed bike facilities, including a buffered bike lane beginning at Harvard Ave
4. Safe pedestrian access during construction
These improvements will drastically change the lives of those who live and work in Allston and radiate out through the city.