Saturday, February 02, 2019

Charles River: Transportation Secretary’s decision on I90 rebuild configuration in context.

RE: Charles River:  Transportation Secretary’s decision on I90 rebuild configuration in context.

A week or so ago, I published the decision of the Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation on the rebuild of I90 across the Charles River from Magazine Beach.  It is posted at.

Since then, the Cambridge City Council, or, more likely, the Cambridge Development Department speaking through the Cambridge City Council has weighed in.  I responded by passing on to the Cambridge City Council, or, more importantly, the many people who read its agenda / minutes, the decision with an analysis which is much more detailed that I did last time.  Plus, of course, the Cambridge City Council is increasingly coming out of the closet as the villain.  So I am communicating a bunch of issues to the voters, and transmitting the decision which is clearly different from what the Cambridge City Council / Development Department says.

APOLOGIES:  There are locations in Boston mentioned in this letter.  For me to spell out the locations in detail would simply make the post too long.  One succinct description is that "Kenmore" and "Yawkey Station" are very close to each other, very close to the Red Sox home of Fenway Park and perhaps a mile north of the Longwood / Harvard Medical Area which includes Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Children's Hospital of Boston, Brigham & Women's Hospital and, for the time being, the Harvard Medical School.  Mountfort / St. Mary’s is a very short block from the heart of the campus of Boston University, and perhaps half a mile west of Kenmore.  The eastern end of the proposed Green Line A spur is at the southern end of the BU Bridge and less than half a mile vaguely west of Mountfort / St. Mary’s.

RE: I90 Rebuild Project - Secretary’s Designation of “Preferred” Alignment

1. Secretary’s Decision Attached.
2. Some key points of background.
A. The “throat.”
B. Some other environmental outrages.
(1) January 2016.
(2) Magazine Beach.
(3) Former NECCO spur.
(4) Development Department management of information.
3. Right turn off River Street Ramp still undecided.
4. Cambridge City Council “Environmentalists” Support Environmental Destruction in Cambridge.
5. Summary.

Gentlemen / Ladies:

1. Secretary’s Decision Attached.

Three weeks ago, the Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation issued a decision which designated a preferred alignment for the rearrangement of I90 across from Magazine Beach.

This decision received almost immediate release to the press with, as near as I can gather no public communication of the exact terms of the preferred alignment to which I90 would be rebuilt.

At the January 2019 I90 Rebuild Advisory Committee meeting, I repeatedly requested that the Secretary’s decision be published so as to be publicly available.  I did not get very far with the engineers running the meeting, but Senator William Brownsberger was kind enough to refer me to his webpage on which he had published the decision, as he received that decision associated with his membership on the committee.

Since then, I have been publicizing the decision as broadly as I can within my resources.  I am accordingly providing to you as Attachment 2 a true copy of the decision which I received from Senator Brownsberger and which we have published on the Charles River White Geese Blog.

On reading the decision, it is clear that there are key caveats in the Secretary’s decision which make that decision strikingly different from any alignment previously under consideration, although it nominally is an acceptance of the “Hybrid” alignment.  The state / consultant engineers strongly emphasized this situation at the January meeting of the I90 Task Force.

Of particular interest to the powers that be in Cambridge, the key engineer refused to concur in response to an MIT surrogate’s attempt to characterize that the order amounted to victory for the outrages being sought by MIT and friends on the Grand Junction.  That particular surrogate was one of the more visible MIT surrogates fighting for the January 2016 outrage accomplished on the Charles River by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and Cambridge.

Many of the outrages supported by this person have been sneaked into fine print and not so fine print in projects being pushed by the Cambridge City Council and its staff.

2. Some key points of background.

A. The “throat.”

Here is the photo of the area that was the most discussed part of the decision, the narrowest part of I90 across from Magazine Beach where the Cambridge City Council wants to destroy 56 mostly excellent trees.

B. Some other environmental outrages.

(1) January 2016.

Hundreds of mostly excellent trees between the BU and Longfellow Bridges were destroyed in the DCR / Cambridge outrage of January 2016.

This  is described in detail in my video, WITH PLANS AND PHOTOGRAPHS,  posted at:

(2) Magazine Beach.

The various outrages, as usual, are being progressed and have been accomplished, with maximum secrecy to allow deniability to the guilty parties and to prevent responsible people from objecting.  Public objections have killed desired outrages in the past.

In addition to this order AND OTHER SUPPORTIVE ACTIONS, the City Council repeatedly praises the DCR’s plans for the Magazine Beach outrage.  The DCR has clearly communicated in its filings with the Cambridge Conservation Commission that the DCR’s relevant plans include the destruction of the 56 (originally 54) trees.  And the City Council’s presiding officer calls it a lie to say that the City Council supports this massive destruction?

The massive tree destruction supported at Magazine Beach by the Cambridge City Council has twice been communicated IN DETAIL to the Cambridge City Council in my 51 page analysis of June 6, 2017 of the publicly presented plans in context with the doomed trees which the Cambridge City Council does not want to know about.  That communication is posted on the Charles River White Geese webpage at  That communication in turn responds to the blank check given the Department of Conservation and Recreation by the Cambridge City Council in its Order 1 of April 24, 2017 published in city records at

(3) Former NECCO spur.

I have in last week’s meeting communicated more environmental outrage by MIT in the Grand Junction area by passing on photos by Phil Barber of the excellent row of cottonwoods on the former NECCO spur which has been destroyed rather clearly by MIT.  It is not far from the Charles River.

Phil has provided yet another photo of the MIT destroyed row of cottonwoods.

Here is his explanation and the photo.

* * * * *

Just came across a photo I took in 1983 of a corn syrup tanker on the NECCO spur, with the big trees [ed: destroyed by MIT] just to the right of it.  Found it sitting there one morning in the snow, not sure why it had been left by itself.  The post to the right is where Vellucci’s “great iron gate” and the X-crossover was.

* * * * *

“Vellucci” refers to the late city councilor / mayor for which the park in Inman Square is named.  That is the park in Inman Square which a majority of members of the City Council are currently in the process of destroying.

(4) Development Department management of information.

As I mentioned above, the CDD and the people influenced by it, for 20 years of more, denied the existence of the Kenmore Crossing alternative on the Urban Ring rail proposal.  Now that the BU Crossing alternative, supported by the CDD, seems to have lost to the Kenmore Crossing alternative, does the CDD now recognize its existence?

The biggest mistake that MassDOT has recently made is its determination to go to the CDD to determine the people to whom MassDOT should communicate its Charles River plans.  The CDD is MOST DEFINITELY not a neutral party, and the “advice” to MassDOT reflects its lack of neutrality.

Here is a MassDOT map of the Grand Junction with markings by me as to intersections which would be impacted by the creation of Commuter Rail service on the Grand Junction.  People coming out objecting to this impact were key in the earlier decision of MassDOT to reject Commuter Rail service on the Grand Junction.  So, naturally, the DCR tells MassDOT NOW to talk only to its friends and, most definitely NOT to talk to people impacted by the harm to the major arteries of Commuter Rail.

Distressingly, this environmentally destructive, VOTER OPPOSED outrage has been supported by the Cambridge City Council in order 2 of January 28, 2019.  The City Council did not discuss this order in public, maintaining the maximum secrecy associated with this project which it is so hated by so many voters.

This destructive proposal would impact animal habitat on the Charles River.  It would spew exhaust from cars on busy Cambridge highways, as marked on the map above, waiting for Commuter Rail closing off those busy highways.  This project would introduce into Cambridge conflicting configurations of car / train which have been routinely replaced in the past 50 or 100 years throughout the United States, and particularly in Massachusetts.  So naturally, the Cambridge Development Department is keeping it as secret as possible from the people who are affected, AND WHO HAVE PUBLICLY AND SUCCESSFULLY OPPOSED IT IN THE PAST.

Similarly, the closing of the right turn off the ramp to the River Street bridge primarily impacts people living near River Street and in much of the rest of the city.  Once again, DCR tells MassDOT to avoid discussing the killing of this turn with its primary users.

C. A responsible alternative to the VOTER HATED Commuter Rail on the Grand Junction.

Enclosed as attachment 1 is my proposal for a Green Line A spur from Green Line B at the BU Bridge to Harvard Square with stops at Harvard’s future Harvard Medical School, North Allston, BU West, and Harvard’s Business School and Stadium.

The alignment would allow direct connection between Back Bay and Harvard Square, a totally new route reducing traffic on and greatly benefitting the Red Line, plus benefitting Harvard Square and beyond with this much easier access.

By contrast, Harvard is floating a horribly expensive reverse DEEP BORE Red Line Spur which would destroy and rebuild Harvard Station.  It would only connect to the relocated Harvard Medical School and the region of the Harvard / Longwood Medical Area. 

Green Line A would connect directly to Kenmore Square and Longwood Medical Area bus shuttles.  When the Urban Ring Kenmore Crossing comes into play, that will create a magnificent superstation at Kenmore Station / Yawkey Station, and from there link to a Longwood Avenue / Louis Pasteur, Ruggles and north by Orange Line technology.

I realize that, for a minimum of 20 years after the MBTA made the Kenmore Crossing part of the Urban Ring rail package in 1991, the Cambridge Development Department falsely denied its existence.  However, the rebuilding in place of Yawkey Station rather severely debunks the idea of moving Yawkey Station to Mountfort / Saint Mary’s as would be required by the BU Bridge Crossing supported by the Development Department.  I had a key part in Yawkey Station being  rebuilt in place and significantly upgraded.

That upgrade by the MBTA killed the BU Bridge route as a potential destroyer of the Wild Area between the Grand Junction and the BU Boathouse on Memorial Drive.  My video provides the key plans to destroy the Wild Area which were included in the January 2016 plans and which almost certainly are to be included in the, as usual, as secret as possible, plans for MDC Phase 3 destruction on the Charles River.

One related instance of possibly Cambridge harming action by MIT has occurred.  The construction of a massive dormitory on Vassar Street opposite the MIT playing fields has the odor of trying to prevent the Kenmore Crossing from going through this area in accordance with Urban Ring Kenmore Crossing plans.

If this construction does prevent the Kenmore Crossing from going through this area, the action is much more likely to harm Cambridge than to harm the Kenmore Crossing alignment.  The Longwood Medical Area definitely needs the Orange Line service which would be provided by the Urban Ring spur out of Ruggles to Longwood / Louis Pasteur and then to Kenmore, especially with the excellent Kenmore / Yawkey Superstation.

Longwood Medical Area is one of Massachusetts’ top money makers.  Its value to Massachusetts is far in excess of Cambridge’s plans in East Cambridge.  Additionally, Green Line A will reduce the overload of the Red Line so as to reduce the need for the Urban Ring to East Cambridge.

If MIT’s construction blocked the Urban Ring subway’s ability to connect by the Kenmore Crossing over the Charles River, the most likely result will be to terminate the Urban Ring subway at Kenmore.  That terminal with its Green Line A, B, C and D, and Commuter Rail connections, in turn, is a decidedly excellent place to end that spur.

The Urban Ring Kenmore Crossing route was my idea as well.  I proposed it five years before it the MBTA officially made it part of the Urban Ring subway package.

3. Right turn off River Street Ramp still undecided

It is encouraging to see that the Cambridge City Council by Order 2 of January 28, 2019 is now joining me in unequivocally opposing the killing of the right turn off the ramp to the River Street Bridge.

The engineers / consultants acknowledged at the January I90 rebuild Advisory Committee meeting that the right turn off the River Street ramp from Soldiers Field Road for access to Cambridge is still open for discussion.

The I90 rebuild proposal was changed, AT MY SUGGESTION, to allow direct connection between the future Harvard Medical School and Soldiers Field Road east of the River Street Bridge.

I suggested that this be combined with killing the left turn off the River Street Bridge ramp.  MassDOT, with the CLEAR  SUPPORT of all Cambridge appointed members was in the process of killing both the right and left turns.

I caught the change at a public presentation in Union Square, Allston.

I have been attending as many of the advisory committee meetings as possible.  Unfortunately, although I have requested I be included in committee mailings, I am not so included and find no public notice of these meetings.

So I was not able to point out this error to the key people before it was presented in public as a fait accompli.  The key consultant presenter was so shocked by my comments that, in an unprecedented act, he interrupted my formal public comments to argue that the Cambridge appointees agreed with the deletion of the right turn.  At least one Cambridge appointee, who was publicly identified by MassDOT’s consultant representative in the Union Square argument as supporting the change, has since then started giving a contrary impression in public comments which have been endorsed by the Cambridge City Council.

4. Cambridge City Council “Environmentalists” Support Environmental Destruction in Cambridge.

The outrage on the Grand Junction looks like a stalking horse for a private exit to MIT from I90.  I was an unrelated intern in the governor’s office when the governor put what was then considered the final resolution of the Inner Belt.  The commuter rail related widening of the Grand Junction railroad bridge looks like a stalking horse for an updated Inner Belt for MIT’s benefit.  Such a highway over A WIDENED Grand Junction Railroad Bridge was proven feasible by the 2003 MBTA study.

Additionally, the Cambridge City Council is trying to use this MassDOT decision as a way to get money from MassDOT to do environmentally destructive work on Memorial Drive, destroying who knows how many more trees in Magazine Beach, plus more than a hundred trees east of the BU Bridge.

* * * * * *

[Label:]  To the far left is the BU Bridge.  The angled lines from bottom middle to top right denote the Grand Junction.  To the left is the Goose Meadow.  To the right is the Wild Area.  Markings indicate EXACTLY ONE TREE NOT DESTROYED in the Wild Area.  (MDC destruction plans for the January 2016 outrage.)

* * * * ** *

* * * * * *
[Label:]  More than a hundred trees in the Wild Area are almost certain to be destroyed in the DCR’s Phase 3 destruction, which the Cambridge City Council wants funded by MassDOT.

* * * * * *

* * * * * *

[Label:]  This magnificent tree in the Goose Meadow dominates the view from the BU Bridge.  It is in the January 2016 destruction plans.  It would most likely be destroyed in Phase 3 Memorial Drive destruction which Order 2 of January 28, 2019 would have MassDOT fund. Note the DCR destruction plan above left [ed:  second prior photo].  This is the big tree near the left end.

* * * * * * *

The DCR has rejected this once and deferred work to associate it with more destruction work east on Memorial Drive.  Following are the DCR’s plans to destroy the thick woods between the Grand Junction and the BU Boathouse in the January 2016 outrage.

The DCR has announced it is working on a Phase 3 of its Charles River environmental destruction which would be funded by MassDOT if the Cambridge City Council has its way.

 It is silly to assume that they DCR will not finish the destructiveness of January 2016.  This is, of course, in addition to possible additional destruction at Magazine Beach.
The City Council passed order 2 on January 28, 2019 without comment.

TWO OF THE THREE SPONSORS of Order 2  spent much of the evening loudly proclaiming an emergency threatening the Cambridge tree stock, and claiming they were standing up to it.

Very clearly, the public members who spoke, in a very large number were demanding protection of Cambridge trees.

The first order section of Order 2, item D, seeks funding from MassDOT to ramp up the outrages for a third item of outrageous tree destruction on the Charles River.

To repeat some comments in my letter on order 7 of January 28, 2019:

At the January 28, 2109 meeting, you had a lot of people fighting against your destructiveness on the Charles River.  Con games are con games.  Lovely, saintly words do not reverse a false reality.

Reality is what you are doing on the Charles River.  It is outrageous, and it is allowed in your supposed protections.

5. Summary.

The total decision of the Secretary of Transportation will dominate further Massachusetts planning in the I90 rebuild.  It is attached in 15 pages, and is presented on the Charles River White Geese Blog at:,

To the best of my knowledge, the only prior public publication of this decision is the one on the Charles River White Geese blog and the version from which it was taken on Senator Brownsberger’s page.  My passing this decision on to you is a part of my continuing efforts to neutralize the overwhelming secrecy surrounding Charles River and Charles River related Grand Junction planning in Cambridge except for communications to friends of the Cambridge Development Department.

The engineers who made presentations at the January 2019 I90 rebuild advisory committee meeting very clearly stated that they really do not know what the decision’s impact on the project will be.