Friday, March 02, 2012

Longfellow Bridge Project, excellent MassDOT behavior, as usual

0. General introduction to letter to MassDOT.
1. Introductory.
2. Drainage system.
A. Magazine Beach.
B. Ebersol Fields.
3. Bicycle traffic.
A. General.
B. MassDOT’s proposal is responsible.
C. The friends of Cambridge and the DCR.
D. The record of Cambridge, the DCR and their controlled activists.
E. The falsely named Charles River Conservancy.
4. Summary.

Last night, I attended the public hearing by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation concerning the Longfellow Bridge repairs.

The Longfellow Bridge is the second bridge to the east of the BU Bridge. It is the farthest point that I am aware of of the environmental outrages coming on the Charles River by Cambridge, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and their stand-ins.

As usual, the biggest problem was not with MassDOT but with Cambridge, the DCR and the stand-ins.

I am sending in the following comments. They are self explanatory.

Thomas F. Broderick, P.E.
Acting Chief Engineer
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Highway Division
10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160
Boston, MA 02116-3973
Attn: Kevin Walsh

RE: Rehabilitation of the Longfellow Bridge over Charles River


This will follow up on my comments of last evening.

I have great respect for MassDOT and great lack of respect for Cambridge and the DCR.

1. Introductory.

Cambridge has a massive organization, as well as does the so called Charles River Conservancy. Large turnouts furthering the cause of either should be ignored because those turnouts commonly are based on false information to well meaning people.

An excellent example of the most basic lie comes in the name of the Charles River Conservancy which is most definitely not a Conservancy, as your department has very responsibly noted in rejecting past environmentally destructive initiatives from this entity. When there is a large perhaps even blind turnout with a key “organization” lying about itself in its name, need I say more? And I really do not want to spend a long time bad mouthing bad people.

I have more than 30 years experience defending the environment in Cambridge. I have frequently encountered and defeated such “groups.” My 30 years plus experience includes experience in transportation including bicycle matters.

Two points stand out to me: Your complicated drainage system to drain off pollutants and the treatment of bicycle transportation.

2. Drainage system.

Your proposal devotes a fair amount of land to natural drainage of pollutants.

A. Magazine Beach.

This natural drainage is strikingly similar to a system put in place at Magazine Beach and the problems are similar at Magazine Beach and on the Boston side of the Longfellow Bridge.

At Magazine Beach, Cambridge and the DCR destroyed seven acres of vegetation which had successfully existed for the better part of a Century without poisons being used to keep it alive.

Cambridge and the DCR destroyed the responsible grasses and replaced them with sickly grasses which need poisons to avoid dying. These introduced grasses thus exactly fit the definition of vegetation which should be destroyed. Instead of destroying this destructive stuff, Cambridge and the DCR destroyed what had been playing fields to put in complicated fancy drainage to keep poisons out of the Charles River which are being used to keep alive grasses which have no business on the Charles River.

If Cambridge and the DCR were responsible entities, instead of dumping poisons on the banks of the Charles River, Cambridge and the DCR would be spending the money seeding the responsible grasses back onto Magazine Beach which they should not have destroyed in the first place.

Once the responsible grasses were returned, the playing fields which were destroyed for this irresponsible drainage could be returned and the Charles River would have as many playing fields as it did before this irresponsible destruction.

A parallel step at Magazine Beach would be to chop down the introduced wall of vegetation as the DCR, twice a year, chops down all other bordering vegetation the Charles River Basin. But it continues to grow and it continues to grow for a purpose. The DCR’s goal is to wipe out all animals living on the Charles. Destroying almost all bordering vegetation serves that goal by driving away migratory waterfowl. Keeping the bizarre wall growing and growing furthers that goal by starving the 30 year resident Charles River White Geese.

The DCR is unfit to manage the environment.

B. Ebersol Fields.

The irresponsible behavior of Cambridge and the DCR at Magazine Beach follows on irresponsible behavior at Ebersol Fields.

Ebersol Fields also has sickly grasses which will not survive without be dosed regularly with poisons.

A few years ago, the poisons proved inadequate. So the DCR dumped Tartan on Ebersol Fields. Tartan is marked against use next to bodies of water. But the DCR is unfit to manage the environment. So the DCR dumped Tartan.

The next day, the Charles River was dead from the Mass. Ave. (Harvard) Bridge to the Harbor, infested with algae. That algae recurs annually.

If the natural drainage being installed on the Boston side of the Charles River is being installed to neutralize the poisoning of the Charles by the DCR at Ebersol Fields, the responsible thing to do is stop the poisoning. As at Magazine Beach, instead of spending money on poisons at Ebersol Fields, money should be spent on seeds for the responsible grasses the DCR and Cambridge destroyed at Magazine Beach.

If responsible grasses being introduced at Ebersol Fields solves the pollutant problem, MassDOT can create parkland rather than this drainage system.

3. Bicycle traffic.

A. General.

I have done extensive bicycle commuting. I commuted daily even during the worst of weather to Boston University Law. My bicycle commuting has been as long as seven miles, even in the worst of weather.

I commuted over the Longfellow Bridge to an internship at the State House. During that internship, I was given personal credit by the Governor’s Office for killing a silly change in bicycle laws which had passed both house without negative comment.

B. MassDOT’s proposal is responsible.

A bicycle lane to the right of traffic separated from the sidewalk is the sensible way to go. Vehicles capable of traveling 20 miles an hour on a highway with a 30 mile an hour speed limit should be handled like vehicles capable of traveling 20 miles an hour. They should not be mixed with pedestrians.

Bicycles must, in order for our world to survive, be made a responsible part of the traffic mix. Bicycle commuting must be viable. Treating bicycle traffic with the contempt that is associated with limiting the rights as if they were the most incompetent, irresponsible members of their community is exactly the wrong way to go.

C. The friends of Cambridge and the DCR.

Bicycles on sidewalks endanger pedestrians and prevent normal commuting by bicyclists.

I have a friend who was laid up for six months when she was run down by a sidewalk bicyclist.

The irresponsibility of sidewalk bicycle highways is shown on Cambridge’s Vassar Street small vehicle highway on the sidewalk. That project is an obvious failure.

Cambridge is repeating the Vassar Street error on Western Avenue. Cambridge’s response to the impossibility of making a left turn at an intersection for bicycles traveling on the right sidewalk is that bicycles do not have to use the supposed bike paths. So Cambridge is deliberately constructing “bike paths” which Cambridge knows are useless. The short term for that kind of behavior is incompetence.

D. The record of Cambridge, the DCR and their controlled activists.

MassDOT has rejected the proposal to build a small vehicle highway (the euphemism is “bike path) on the north side of the Charles River in wetlands and in the river.

MassDOT has accurately pointed out that this is environmentally irresponsible.

The DCR has sought Obama moneys to destroy hundreds of trees between Magazine Beach and the Longfellow Bridge in part for their irresponsible small vehicle highway. This includes devastation of an excellent 104 tree grove at the Memorial Drive split.

The DCR lied concerning the Obama application that this destruction was only destroying sickly trees. The DCR documented that their lie was a lie by its exactly contrary filing with the City of Cambridge.

The governor received a copy of the filing at the City of Cambridge. Somebody killed this irresponsible proposal this time. But friends of Cambridge and the DCR continue their efforts.

E. The falsely named Charles River Conservancy.

In the middle of all the destructive outrages.

4. Summary.

MassDOT is behaving responsibly in this proposal but should consider whether reversing the DCR environmental destruction at Ebersol Fields would negate the “need” for the natural drainage system.

MassDOT should continue to defend the Charles River from the irresponsibility of Cambridge, the DCR and their stand-ins.


Robert J. La Trémouille