by eila in Accessibility, Civil and Human Rights, Government Reform, MBTA, Pedestrians, Public Health & Safety, Transportation, Transportation Projects
Posted on February 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm
Last Modified on February 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm
AAB VARIANCE HEARING – COMMUNITY PATH CEDAR TO LOWELL.
February 27, 2012, 2 pm
One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108.
21st floor Conference Room
As Representative Provost recently explained, the MBTA debt crisis is a symptom of chronic, transportation system inefficiencies.
Yet, despite ongoing fiscal constraints, the City of Somerville has submitted a Variance application to the State Architectural Access Board requesting to waive accessibility by constructing a second staircase connecting the west side of Lowell Street Bridge to the future Community path Extension below.
If the City doesn’t construct a ramp adjacent to these stairs, people who cannot use stairs will only have one option: an extra-long ramp extravaganza proposed on the east side of Lowell Street, beginning with a land-taking from the VNA Assisted Living facility and not within the proposed project area. The costing difference between the ramp and route that skirts the project area (purple dashed lines in image below-Lowell St. bridge, East side proposition), and the 251-foot adjacent ramp that the City wishes to avoid (yellow dashed line in image below- Lowell St. bridge, West side proposition), is not discussed in the Variance application.
However, the East side proposition involves clearing a thicket of brambles and excavating and re-grading the entire site for that ramp.
It will also involve coordination during construction and after completion, to ensure the safety , comfort and noise mitigation for the adjacent VNA facility residents, staff and families.
Above: Satellite view with project area and Variance request notes. The design submitted with the Variance doesn’t show whether the proposed ramp from the East side of Lowell Street will allow non-stair users to connect up to the Community Path as it continues to extend to Somerville Junction Park and eventually, Central Street.
The MPO’s stated priorities and policies include choosing projects that will be strategic needs-based investments.
The proposed project needs to add long-term sustainability value to our community. That includes designing street networks that will include and add value, in the most integrated manner possible, for all community residents, including people with disabilities, older residents, and communities who have been historically disadvantaged and traditionally underserved.
Here, we see a design that separates ramp-users from stairs users. Is there no possibility of designing a multi-modal pedestrian path that can serve Seniors, wheeled-mobility users, skateboarders, families with young children, etc.– in an integrated manner?
This proposal undermines our legitimate rights to integration, access and opportunities.
And it creates liabilities for the State.
There are a multitude of Federal laws, statutes, requirements and Executive Orders that recognize that people with disabilities are traditionally underserved communities. For example, we cope with persistent and unique transportation equity disadvantages, alongside pervasive stereotypes and assumptions about our aspirations, goals, and abilities to achieve political, economic and social equity.
This Variance portion of the Cedar to Lowell plan ignores FTA and Federal Highway Transportation Administration policies and requirements (see 2000 FHWA policy and 2006 FHWA guidance) to maximize pedestrian safety and access simultaneous with transportation improvements. If constructed as requested, it will also be in violation of the updated 2010 ADA Standards for Access Design, which are enforceable as of March 15, 2012.
“Take a hike,” says the City, to people who don’t use stairs.
Public Transportation Stewardship Is A Local Issue
The $902,641 BostonMPO TIP funding for this project comes out of a combination of Federal ($752,201) and State ($150,440) monies, from the “Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.”
(An additional $1,012,389 MPO funding for the Somerville Community Path Design and Construction is also being provided to the City of Somerville out of a combo of Federal ($809,911) and State ($202,478) monies, from the “SAFETEA-LU” packet.)
The City of Somerville’s Variance was submitted because MassDOT and the MBTA said they were concerned about the lack of accessibility for that extra set of stairs.
The Public Hearing provides an opportunity for the Public to ask questions
Somerville representative will be appearing before the State Architectural Access Board regarding this Variance on Monday, February 27 2012 at 2 pm, One Ashburton Place, 21st Floor conference room.
Please come to this Public hearing if you can!
Tell Somerville’s deciders to sTop wasting local and sTate transportation resources on exclusive facilities.
Ask whether these proposed routes are good for the longterm sustainability of our street networks!
Ask how this proposition will improve access for low-income residents, people with disAbilities, and older adults.
For more information, see: Somerville’s latest route around our rights