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2/4/13 Beacon Street Reconstruction MassDOT Public Hearing

by in Beat Reporter, Comprehensive Plan, Development and Zoning, Transportation
Posted on January 27, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Bicycle advocates turned out to the first meetings in support of a dedicated cycle track, which is opposed by neighborhood businesses. More…

[Note: This is a syndicated post. Read the original at Somerville Development Forum.]

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«« Previous: 1/28/13 Beacon Street Reconstruction Meeting #4 

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One Response to “2/4/13 Beacon Street Reconstruction MassDOT Public Hearing”

  1. Beat Report: 2/4/13 Beacon Street Reconstruction MassDOT Public Hearing

    Bottom Line on Top

    Current plans involve cutting parking spaces on Beacon St. and adding a cycle track for part of the way. A few people objected to cutting parking spaces, others objected to the cycle track on the grounds of safety, because it will run past so many driveways. Most of the people approved of the cycle track.

    [COMMENT: Beacon St. residents may not have been leafleted about the meeting.]

    Rough Notes

    25% design hearing. Want final design by next year.

    City has gotten state and federal funding for project.

    At least one public hearing, maybe more.

    Lot of different interests involved. Want to create design that meets everybody’s requirements.

    Bicyclists, pedestrians, cars, transit use. Limited right of way along street. Lots of MassDOT people grew up in Somerville, others ride bicycle to work. We’re aware of these issues. I grew up in Medford.

    Formal section: describe right-of-way.

    Greg Sheehan, Right of Way section

    Is a legal document. City must get all right-of-way rights. May require 99 easements. Property owners are protected by state and federal law. Appraisals are required and fair price paid.

    Design Consultants

    Project limits. NW, Oxford St. to Cambridge city line.

    Design went to 75% design in Mar. 2004, put on hold until late 2011. MassDOT required project to go back thru 25% design review.

    Scheduled funding to start Sept. 2013. Must submit final PS&E by Aug. 2013

    Will redesign traffic signals, make curb cuts ADA compliant, add amenities, and improve subsurface utilities. Idea is to make it a Complete Street. Planned, designed, and operated for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit riders, all ages and abilities.

    Existing conditions: 10 ft. sidewalks, utility poles, 7 ft. parking lanes, 5 ft. bike lanes with 11 ft. car travel lanes.

    Users: 12,000 cars/day. ~300 bicycles per house at peak. 200 peds/hr. peak @ Washington St. Inman Square big bike crash area. 2 bus lines directly (83, 86), plus 87 along Somerville Ave.

    Sidewalks from Oxford to Cambridge line to be reconstructed ($7M). To meet ADA requirements. New sidewalk between Museum St and Park St.

    Fix broken up pavements. New crosswalks, traffic signals, countdown peds, bicycle actuation, left turn lane @Washington onto Beacon. All intersections to go from F to D, D to C.

    Amenities: street furniture, benches, trash cans, bike racks, bus shelters, ornamental traffic signals, accent strip. Cycle track and a bike lane planned.

    Gas main upgrades started in 1998, to finish now. City will upgrade water and sewer infrastructure.

    Beacon St. Parking: To be removed from north side of road from Oxford St. to Museum St. and from Park St. to Washington S. 101 parking spaces proposed between Oxford and Washington. Ample parking for residences. Change parking regulations to provide business parking. Will not be as convenient as at present.

    Proposed conditions: 10 ft. sidewalk, brick accent strip, 3 inch reveal, cycle track, lined with trees, utility poles, street furniture. 3 inch sloped curb (mountable). 11 foot car lane, 13 foot travel lane (including shoulder). 7 foot parking lane, full curb, 9 foot cycle track (to accommodate door zone of parking). Curb line, poles, trees, furniture. Trash goes where poles and trees are.

    20 ft. planted area approaching T intersections.

    Museum to Park: Have a wall in the right of way. Want to have pedestrian continuity on south side. Standard bike lane with 5 foot sidewalks and parking on N side.

    Washington to Cambridge city line. Parking both sides, 5 ft. bike lanes both side. Similar to existing conditions.

    Open hearing to questions and comments. If you want these to be in transcript, give name and address and other identifying information. First, local officials.

    Keep comments to 2-3 minutes. Want everyone to have opportunity to speak.

    Vincent Drago: Lifelong resident. Want to defend all our parking spaces. Need more spaces. Start at Boston St. to Museum St, you’ll see 2-3 family houses. Thickly settled area. Need to parking. Nothing against bikers. Go on Somerville Ave. Not fair for us to have our 67 year lifestyles diminished while you guys drink pina coladas. Fix Beacon, keep all the parking.

    Q: Cycle track safety is ambiguous. Safety depends on the design. Two features make a difference. Need turn lanes. Drivers expect bikes to run at ped speeds. Need shortened cycle track. Only safe location is 1500 feet by Museum St. Cycle track needs at least one of two safety features.

    Fardey: Major arterial, principally cars and some bikes. Plenty of side streets to park on. Price of parking should go up to pay for project.

    Meyer: Cambridge side of border. Lived there since 1959. Problem with effect on 2 stores. Spa at Museum & Beacon, crosswalk being removed. Star Market on Beacon. Shaw’s may close that store. Crosswalk should not be moved from Sacramento. Chief shopping area for Harvard grad students. People who live on Beacon St. can’t park on Cambridge streets.

    Tippen from Roxbury: Boston Cyclists Union, Want to promote cycling. Want to get risk-averse people on the road. More people on bikes, less parking required. Designated turn lanes are used with a lot of right turns. Shortened cycle tracks are used to increase visibility. Cycle tracks been shown to be safer in Europe. Parking situation can be dealt with by having 2-hour parking in front of businesses, parking in parking lots. Look at raised crosswalks, metered parking at Whole Foods.

    Holland: Out of towner, lived in Somerville. Seen a plan that narrows sidewalks to have parking on both sides and bike lanes. Could remove parking on one side of street. Parking restrictions would mean no parking 2 feet from driveways. Not opposed in principle to bikeways. This one doesn’t work on safety grounds. This is a design public hearing. These are not design documents. I question if this is sufficient to provide the information we need to evaluate this project.

    MAPC person: Regular commuter, likes current design and big picture. Thank Somerville and MassDOT for their efforts. Suggest design have cycle tracks closer to Inman square. Need fast turnover at businesses,

    Gulick: From Medford. Commute from W. Medford to Waltham. Use Beacon St. to go downtown. Beacon St. will be welcome. Surface is very bad. Will like wider lanes. Am against cycle track on safety grounds. Cycle track is a legal gray area on right of way rules. Are dangers at driveways and intersections. Need to keep them clear of pedestrians, trash, and snow. Won’t conform to State Accommodation standards. Mountable curb will be dangerous. MA law doesn’t deal with cycle tracks. Cycle track would be part of sidewalk. Bicycle comes to intersection, can’t cross in front of a car that might turn in front of them. Who would be at fault in an accident? Bike tracks not cleared in winter.

    Stern: Cambridge Bicycle Committee, speaking for myself. 300 cyclists will increase dramatically. Bicyclists would ride more if there were more separate cycle lanes. I would continue further, move the wall to make room.

    Watson: Mass Bike Coalition exec dir. Beacon St. commuter. Customer of Beacon St. businesses. Bicyclists don’t just pass through. My goal is to see more people riding. People need to feel safe. Don’t feel safe due to current infrastructure (striped bike lane). Many more cyclists would ride if there were separated facilities. Support cycle track. Want them to push design forward, meet the safety concerns. These can be solved. Cycle tracks not new, used many places. 5th cycle track in Boston area. Can’t be ruled by fear.

    Holzweg: Regular Beacon St. commuter. Commend city of a multimodal street. Want this for everybody. Original designed for middle-aged adults. This is design for all. Why do cycle tracks end halfway down? Why so few crosswalks? Design sheets have almost no crosswalks, Museum to Oxford.

    Lunetto: Recent resident. Commute by bike to Kendall Sq. Concerns about safety of corridor. Must get design right. I’m comfortable on Beacon St., but not everybody is. Need places to cross the road.

    Epstein: Live on Beacon St. 5 years. Bike to work in Kendall, walk to Porter for T. 3 points. Beacon St. part of greater plan, Comprehensive Plan. Half of all trips by new residents are to be non-car trips. Somerville bicycling committee has gotten lot of feedback from farmers markets. People want to ride there. I believe cycle paths remove people from war zone. Safety issues can be addressed by best practices. Pedestrians get new sidewalk, We need more crosswalks. Will be fewer conflicts with cars. Important to have crosswalks with people parking on only one side of the street.

    Carlson: Live on Beacon St. Living 3 years. Homeowner. Bike to work to Kendall every day. We walk and drive. See all levels of cyclists, occasional parent with child. Cycle track would make things safer. I would use the cycle track. I use the one on Vassar St. Like idea to keep families safer.

    Talon: Live Boston St. Union Square. Use Beacon to get to Inman, Porter, and Boston. We moved to Somerville because we could get around without a car. I mostly bike. Beacon St. would help with that. Place will be an improvement. Safety issues can be addressed in later design phase. State and city should move forward, those with concerns about cycle track should stay involved.

    Yao: Teele Sq., 10 years. Used Beacon St. every day. Glad they changed plan to address parking both sides. Cycle track will promote biking. Addresses 60% of people who might ride if it was safe. Want to encourage nonmotorized travel. Want to make parking more difficult on Beacon. Start that change now. Should share parking lot with Star Market, which is underutilized.

    Chase: Belmont St. behind Star Market. Use businesses on Beacon St. Day job is parking consultant. Somerville doesn’t manage parking very well. It isn’t a tradeoff between [parking and cycle track. To do that we would have to manage parking. Can have permit parking, or increase price for high demand parking. In urban environment, hard to have parking for everybody. Could have able-bodied people walk further to their places. Lots of other off-street parking in addition to Star Market. Don't let parking stop the vision.

    Evans: First female voice. Long-tome Somerville residents. Commute by bike 3 seasons. Two school age children. Terrified of biking with children. Have had 2 accidents (one dooring, one getting hit by left turner). Cycle track would help with that.

    Medford person: People think cycle tracks are safer than street. Have to teach children about traffic. Cycle track could make right and left hook worse because cycle track hides you. Dooring not worst. Most fatalities were caused by right hooks at turns. Don't pretend the cycle track is as safe as the Minuteman Trail. Children need to know about traffic. People can ride on street. DOT defines separate accommodations. Guidelines say where on street parking is provided, shoulders required between cars and traffic.

    Q: Use Beacon St., bike, drive, walk, take bus. Support current plan. Think bigger. Cycle track brings in more customers without adding parking. There are solutions to parking problems. Hope cycle track could go further, whole length. Truncated at Washington St. because of parking study that showed less than 50% usage. Should have vertical separation on south side. Add raised crossings, make crossings safer. Need more crosswalks. Want automatic signals.

    Cristina: Beacon St. resident. Regular Beacon St. commuter. Took long time to learn how to deal with street riding. Would've helped to have a cycle track. Friends are interested in biking but scared.

    Ethan: Brighton resident. Avid bicyclists, to/from work to Billerica 3 seasons. Experience with car, transit, and bike. Please try to open your mind to other people's choices. Support project. Drivers, cyclists, please stay safe. Watch for each other.

    Epstein: Arlington Resident, cycling on Beacon St. 14 years, to Kendall Sq., former Somerville resident. Support project in general. Big step in right direction. Cycle 4 seasons. Sometimes I wouldn't ride on cycle track. Hope city and residents can work out bugs. Education is required so people can get used to cycle track. Have used cycle tracks on Vassar St. and Concord St. Double parking of trucks in bike lane is a problem.

    Steiner: Union Square. Don't bike, was almost killed. Walk a lot. Very exciting as long as safe, as long as parking can be addressed. A lot of people will be coming to area by bike. Road needs improvement. Need more crosswalks up toward Porter Sq. Parking reduction requires more crosswalk. Interaction between peds and bicyclists. I've been in a bike-ped accident. Tough to park far from where they live. Maybe people over a certain age could have closer parking. How many driveways are there along Beacon? Safety should be paramount.

    Lynn: Question. Appears one section of cycle track is by a bus. How do you cross cycle track to get to sidewalk?

    A: Will relocate bus stops side street nearby.

    Lynn: Issue lack of crosswalks. Two years ago, about hotel at Somerville Ave. parking director said crosswalks could only go at one place.

    Jane B.: Walk everywhere. Now starting to bike, risk averse. Interested in comprehensive plan. Plan to increase literacy about urban. Disappointed in inadequacies of current plans. Huge mistake to leave these issues vaguely to later phases. Would be very worried about cycle track. A true designated bike lane would be better. Somerville can move too fast on high stakes projects.

    Arpai: 15 years in Somerville. Cambridge removed half of parking at old place. As it turned out, that didn't change much. People adapted. Never drive to work, drive here. Parking shouldn't be free, unfair to people who don't have cars.

    Q: Nub of Somerville in Cambridge. Talk about data. There are some glaring omissions in submissions. Huge push after fatal accidents. Wanted police data on accidents. Nothing available that describes Beacon St. accidents. Need to know what the lessons are. If we only did best practices, it would be only to Washington St. There's data on number of resident permits. Nothing from traffic & parking on these plans. Good Cyclists Unions did business intersect survey. Would be good to have same data for residential parking. We are people here.

    Q: Concern is that Mass DOT is only going through the motions. Drive a car, rarely ride a bike. With more diligence, could do better. Somerville Ave. design done by one person. $22M. Much more traffic now. 2 hours a day, can't turn out of my driveway between 4 and 6:30. One person gets all the design jobs. Why is that? MGL 112 sec 81. Anytime a professional engineers submits a doc, requires a state seal. None of these documents have a state seal. Is there a land surveyor assigned? Need one. There doesn't seem to be one. Crosswalks should not use bricks, the way they were used on Somerville Ave. When will question about seal, land surveyor, be answered? Who will answer my questions? I don't want to go thru the city.

    Newman: Used to live off Beacon St. Generally support plan, but should move parking into Star Market by leasing it. (Only 1/3 used.) Pedestrian issues. Is not a complete street. Plan takes an existing crosswalk away. Need at least one between Oxford and Sacramento.

    Dodds: Wendell St half a block from Beacon St. Crossing Beacon 40 years. Walk Beacon St. because better than Oxford. Object to cycle track. Increased danger to pedestrians. 2 great improvements: reconfiguring top of Oxford, and adding sidewalk by museum. Beacon St. has to work as well for peds as for anyone else. Peds concerned about sidewalks and really about crosswalks. 10 minute walk between crosswalks. 30K people live within a mile of Porter Sq. Crosswalk doesn't have to be right at Oxford. Sacramento needs to stay where it is. Underpass needs to be promoted. Not here to talk about parking and beginning cyclists. Pedestrians’ views. Museum St. crosswalk should not be eliminated. All crosswalks should have automatic signals. No signalized intersection should require more than 90 second ped wait. Don't use red pavers for crosswalks. Need to be marked with bright white reflective stripes. Granite edging is a slip hazard. Look at Wendell and Oxford. Had to rip out raised crosswalk. Should not monkey with bus stops. Cycle track is a concern. Casual cyclists ride 4 times faster than peds. Taking cyclists off the road back to sidewalks is a step back. 25% have disability. How can they coexist with bikes on cycle track that looks like a sidewalk? No physical barrier. Would encourage sidewalk riding at ends. No such thing as a bike speed limit. Off-road ride out causes accidents due to cyclists coming from unexpected directions.

    Marcus: Worker owner of cycle messenger service. Show solidarity with all Beacon St. users. Been hit by cars, been doored. MassDOT and City should continue forward with cycle track. With input, city should consider safety modifications. Want to address parking problem. 1/3 of parking removal has anything to do with cycle track.

    Moore: Live on Cherry St. Speak for myself. Drive, park, shop on Beacon. Think design is good distribution of narrow r-o-w. Trust details can be worked out.

    Q; Pedestrian living in Cambridge. Leave signals and crosswalks as they are. Need more up by Porter Sq. Need more cycle tracks. Have to distinguish it so it isn't seen as a sidewalk. End of museum St. is in poor shape.

    Business owner on Beacon St.: need customers to be able to park. Glad that street is to be improved, sad that parking will be lost.

    Jehlen: Live 2 blocks from Beacon St. Grateful to DOT for taking this seriously. People who live and work on Beacon have waited for over 15 years for improvements. Fixing the surface is most important. I would bike if it were close to flat. Understand that people who lie work and own businesses on Inman end. Will lose many parking spaces. DOT cannot address this. City must address these issues. Lot of disagreements about cycle tracks. What we all want is the safest solution for everyone. Grateful that we can look to DOT engineers who have looked at Beacon St. block by block. Is not Vassar St. Glad we can count on you to do the best professional job you can.,

    Mode Sharing Coalition: Do we have the right to travel at 30 mph? (Yes.) Do we have the right to use 4 lanes? This is not sharing.

    Capillani: Wish Jehlen was correct that good data and design did this. Planning Dept. and city Gov. seem to be doing the job, engineering follows them. Concerned about 7 foot wide parking lane deal with a 10 ft. wide bus? (A: Removing buses from section where cycle track is.)

    What about garbage collection? Were there alternative designs presented? (No) There was the original 25% design, then 75% design. All designs were different. (Were there?) Would cyclist business usage be enough to make up for losing 100 parking spaces?

    Did cycle track on Concord decrease accidents? (Don't know.)

    Thanks for your input. Will work with city to make sure design is safe. If any questions, send question to us. Will send out an e-mail when we know about a new meeting.

    [COMMENT: After the meeting I spoke with a restauranteur from near Washington Street. I asked him if there was an element of opposition to change just because it’s change going on. He said that many of the people who live along Beacon St. don’t know what is happening. They don’t have Internet access, and he thought that MassDOT had not leafleted the area. They were being blindsided.

    He thought that his business might be hurt by the cut in parking spaces. I suggested he survey his customers to find out how they got to his place and send this information, in writing, to the Somerville Traffic and Parking Department with reference to this project. I said he might find out he didn’t have a problem, but if he did, they were the ones who were supposed to address it.]

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