MIT’s Interstate Off Ramp ― details on the “Bike Path” stalking horse
1. The Stalking Horse, part 0 ‒ The Grand Junction Railroad Bridge.
3. The Stalking Horse, Part 2, official overview.
4. The Stalking Horse, part 3, temporary southern terminus, if Cambridge had a responsible City Council, the permanent southern terminus.
5. The Stalking Horse, part 4, MIT’s proposal for bike connection to Memorial Drive The ― reality on the Charles.
6. The Stalking Horse, part 5, Who knows?.
This report follows on to our recent post “A private Interstate Off Ramp to MIT sold as a Bike Path, with major harm to the Charles River, and to the Cambridge Environment” at https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/19121262/6697413398555732422. .
Lots of details in the post.
To put it succinctly, the usual cast of characters in Cambridge are trying to sell a super highway off ramp through Cambridge, MA. The super highway lost 50 years ago when it was honestly called a super highway, the “Inner Belt.” This time they are calling it a bike path.
Here are two key still photos from the post. Six other provide detail in the report. The photos are stills from “From Cambridge to Boston with the DJ Inspire 1 Drone footage,” posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN-OmMzvHhw. These photos are taken from minutes 4.40 and 9.28.
Minute 4.40, above, shows the area where the off ramp will originate (on the right, doing a loop from the inbound side next to Commonwealth Avenue and the BU Bridge), the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge (It needs to be widened to handle the Inner Belt Highway, under middle part of the BU Bridge. Perhaps it will be TEMPORARILY used as a bike path, but the stab in the back would work more easily early on. The Cambridge end can be seen beyond the left portion of the BU Bridge), and the future path of the stalking horse (mid left). The Destroyed Nesting Area of the Charles River White Geese is between the BU Bridge and the Grand Junction. The Wild Area is beyond the Grand Junction facing the Charles River.
Minute 9.28, below, shows the path of the proposed renamed and redescribed Inner Belt.
The future Inner Belt is the left of three vertical highways. The middle road is Vassar Street. The road on the right is Memorial Drive.
The stalking horse bike path is projected to be built on the left portion of the left highway to allow connections to Memorial Drive off and below the picture. The connection would be by a fairly new built highway . The con is that this connection directs bike traffic the far more dangerous way to Memorial Drive. The plans for the construction of this highway showed thick tree planting which has not gone forward. That could be because I pointed out to a developer type that the trees to be planted left room for highway connectors to the new road from the Mass. Pike off ramp. If you know what to look for, those openings were damning.
Responsible alternatives would connect a real bike path ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE GRAND JUNCTION right of way to Vassar Street in either of two routes,
A. by a narrow taking of private property slightly below the bottom of the photo and then to Memorial Drive safely or
B. by the alternative proposed by MIT ― by an existing walkway from Cambridge’s Fort Washington Park (trees halfway up to the left) to Vassar Street and then to Memorial Drive.
In sections 3 and 4 below are key parts of Cambridge’s presentation of the stalking horse, the bike way which would disappear when the new Inner Belt is constructed. After Cambridge’s con game, in section 5, is the simple map presented to the Cambridge City Council by MIT which shows its proposal and Cambridge's.. Without the con games, it shows the con game’s reality.
Section 2 presents some of the secret stuff. A little of our analysis is included in Section 4.
I regret not showing a lot of tree damage coming. This is a long report. Including tree destruction would make it a book.
1. The Stalking Horse, part 0 ‒ The Grand Junction Railroad Bridge.
Everything depends on widening the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge. The powers that be in Cambridge have worked on different excuses. This excuse is a bike bath. It sounds so great!!!
The excuse the local transit authority, the MBTA, had to study widening of the Grand Junction in the first place was to put in an express bus from Newton to Kendall Square. Express Buses tend to run maybe two or three times in in the morning and return trips in the evening.
The amount of money which would be needed to be expended to create a route for three buses at cay each way absolutely would not justify the amount of money needed to upgrade facilities. That was obvious from the beginning.
The MBTA noticed reality after spending money on the research. Golly gee.
The Grand Junction was the “obvious” route for their new express bus.
They did the engineering and proved that the bridge over the Charles could be modified by cantilevering a new lane off the existing bridge while continuing (I think) one lane of train service. The current con game claims to be providing two lanes for rail with one lane width for a bike path.
The important thing is GET THAT EXTRA LANE. Once they have the extra lane, they can SUDDENLY change the use as is convenient for the Metropolitan Institute of Technology and other developers and businesses along the Grand Junction.
Here is a good photo of the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge from the west side of the BU Bridge.
The very Southern end of the Bridge is shown
As can be noted, the Grand Junction used to consist of two tracks each using one side of the bridge over the Charles River. This photo shows that the west side (shown to the right) has been abandoned.
The tracks move to the middle of the two lanes when the track goes over Soldiers Field Road on the Boston side. They then curve to go under I90.
If you look straight ahead, you can see a green highway sign over the outbound side of I90. If you look REALLY carefully, you can even see a car straight ahead on the outbound side Access to the Outbound side of I90 is simple. Instead of going down at this point to get under I90, you go up to create a ramp to the outbound vehicle traffic side. The complicated part was how to get inbound and outbound traffic to the BU Bridge. The MBTA devised the loop as I show in part 0 for inbound traffic.
There is not enough room for ramps for traffic in both directions. The MBTA study proposed a U turn on the Mass. Pike to the west of the Grand Junction Bridge to allow outbound traffic to switch to the inbound side of I90 and the loop ramp to the Grand Junction to resolve that.
That U turn was relatively cheap. It was done years ago. But they needed to widen the Grand Junction Bridge by any means that worked.
This particular tactic is to call the off ramp a bike path.
I have a whole bunch of photos of this area of I90 and where the ramp could go. But the Drone photos do a lot more with less time needed. Really a more useful use of my and your time is to go into the connection on the Cambridge side.
2. The Stalking Horse, part 1, at the Charles River ― the SECRET part.
Cambridge has spent a lot of time on the responsible parts of what it calls the Grand Junction bike path. It would be a good project IF IT WERE REAL AND NOT A STALKING HORSE. The key modification is also included.
The responsible way to provide the bike path is to move the bike path to the right (east) side of the Grand Junction right of way. This would allow the bike path to connect to Vassar Street followed by access to Memorial Drive. The bike path should not go under Memorial Drive because of the associated very major destruction on the Charles River and on its banks.
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation has already done massive destruction on Memorial Drive in January 2016 WITH CAMBRIDGE ASSISTANCE including but not limited to the Cambridge City Council’s silence when this outrage called for objection.
Our video, Memorial Drive Destruction, final cut, posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTplCCEJP7o, goes into great detail based on the DCR’s plans which were written by its predecessor, the Metropolitan District Commission with assistance from Cambridge “planners.”
The MDC was destroyed by the Massachusetts legislature at least in part to protect the Charles River from the destructiveness of the MDC “planners.” The “planners” proceeded to move to the DCR with their outrageous plans and with the assistance of the extremely destructive Cambridge Development Department and the Cambridge City Council.
Outrages are continuing at Magazine Beach. These plans with analysis are on line at http://focrwg.com/agenda1.html. This is my letter to the Cambridge City Council in response to FALSE claims of environmental sainthood during a rally led by city councilors on the steps of Cambridge City Hall.
The plans included destruction of the excellent woods east of the Grand Junction at the Charles River. The DCR destroyed hundreds of mostly excellent trees, but did not destroy this excellent woods.
Now, the DCR has proceeded with lying “public notices” for hearings which they included those plans in a project which was advertised as having an eastern end at the BU Bridge. They then announced the reality that the plans went to that doomed woods. The key slides are presented below/
Here are the doomed woods, the Wild Area, and the plans for destruction. There are much more detailed plans available for destruction in the “Destroyed Nesting Area of the Charles River White Geese which is off camera to the left. The white figures are a gaggle of the Charles River White Geese. The place has much greater diversity. A lot of the other free animals have been driven away, but many remain / have returned. The Grand Junction railroad bridge is at the lower left.
This is the last remaining natural wild in this part of the Charles River.
Here are the most visible, but most definitely, not the only victims on this outrage, the Charles River White Geese, admiring the Charles River in the winter, viewing from their Destroyed Nesting Area looking under the Grand Junction railroad bridge.
Here are the destruction plans. They show both halves. The massive destruction in the Wild Area is shown by displaying only ONE TREE NOT DESTROYED.
If the stalking horse ends above Memorial Drive (the almost horizontal line from right to left) as currently identified, it would be a responsible project
The upper right part of these plans is near the location where the bike path should connect to Vassar Street.
Here is another winter shot of the Charles River White Geese. The view looks through the Wild Area from the sidewalk next to the Destroyed Nesting Area and the Wild Area.
This bay stays liquid during the most frigid part of the winter. They also use this natural harbor for refuge during the most extreme storms. Their goose down jackets protect them in winter. Having non frozen water is very valuable on the coldest days.
This is the key slide from the DCR presentation in which they change the definition of “BU Bridge” to include the Wild Area. In this slide, the Wild Area is at the extreme right. Note that the colored line includes it as part of the “BU Bridge” which, physically, is the highway at the bottom. The bay shown above is probably the inbound curve toward the right. In the destruction plan, it is probably the curve to the right of the Grand Junction. All but one tree in the winter photo is planned to be destroyed by Cambridge and the DCR.
3. The Stalking Horse, Part 2, official overview.
These plans and following plans are from the City of Cambridge’s public plans on the internet for the stalking horse bike highway. The part of the bureaucracy responsible is the Cambridge Development Department.
This is what the well intended victims are shown as the overview of the project. “GLX” in green letters at the right indicates the Green Line Extension being constructed from Lechmere Station to Tufts University in Medford.
Her is the dirty part blown up as much as my application will allow. Note the stuff they are bragging about as compared to the really irresponsible terrible stuff they keep as secret as possible. The bottom of the green line is the point where the proposal goes from responsible to irresponsible.
Standard technique when you are dealing with the City of Cambridge and its friends is silence on the stuff they do not want the voters aware of.
Here is their map version, first the entire map with numbered explanation, then cropped to the southernmost area with their points 1 and 2;
And here is the portion at the Charles.
Both this map version and the prior version are extremely general south of Memorial Drive. That portion has been HEAVILY PLANNED, but it is kept secret from people being suckered into the bad part by showing the much larger innocuous BUT TEMPORARY part.
Point 1 is the supposed terminus. Point 2 is the bike reroute to Memorial Drive. Note that the marked path continues to Memorial Drive, temporarily.
4. The Stalking Horse, part 3, temporary southern terminus, if Cambridge had a responsible City Council, the permanent southern terminus..
Here again is our second still at the beginning for the overview at this level.
Here is the detailed part of the map overview again, because it is the only map I can find from their presentation showing where the bikes are supposedly being directed to.
That connection on the left is a very key reason for running the “bike path” in the left part of the Grand Junction right of way.
This interconnection structure allows for connection of I90 traffic to Memorial Drive. Major tree destruction is ongoing along Memorial Drive to rearrange the Magazine Beach park to reduce access between the park and Memorial Drive and thus to speed up traffic on Memorial Drive for the benefit of the traffic coming off I90. The Cambridge City Council has put money on planning for the destruction of the excellent grove across from the MicroCenter parking lot.
The curved, C shaped, area in the left middle of this map is in Magazine Beach’s beautiful park. That curved area is being reduced to one curb cut with major tree destruction as part of this outrage, also part of speeding up traffic. The doomed thick MicroCenter / Bathhouse grove is a few hundred feet further west to the right of that curve.. See the hook shaped parking area which is to the grove’s west and south.
Destroying that grove allows access to Magazine Beach to be moved and relocated across from a public street which goes through the MicroCenter parking lot. In both cases, access curb cuts to the west would disappear (that hook shaped curve), further speeding up traffic on Memorial Drive.
The BU Bridge extends to neighborhood streets directly above it. This area is a traffic nightmare, especially when the Boston Red Sox have a home game on the Boston side of the BU Bridge.
BIKE TRAFFIC IS BEING ROUTED INTO THIS TRAFFIC NIGHTMARE.
Because the purpose is not a bike path, it is for creating access to Memorial Drive for traffic coming from I90. Routing bike traffic into a nightmare is a prepared excuse to kill the bike path.
Note on the map the street following the bike highway directly to its right and below it. That street, Vassar Street, is “coincidentally” blocked by the numbers 1 and 2. It turns and goes straight to Memorial Drive at the number 1, another “coincidentally” not shown reality.
Here is a photos of that side of the bike path. The photo is taken from the leg of Vassar Street toward Memorial Drive. Straight ahead is the corner of Vassar Street. The land between Vassar Street and the Grand Junction, the “wrong side” from the bike path IS UNDEVELOPED.
The land between Vassar Street and the “wrong side” of the Grand Junction is an obvious target for access to Vassar Street and then to Memorial Drive, short and simple, without the traffic nightmare built into the supposed plans.
This is VERY CLEAR from MIT’s map in the next section.
But, if you want a route which you can “suddenly” discover is too dangerous to route bikes, you use the dangerous side, to the left and up, and have an excuse to use the dangerous side for Memorial Drive access from I90.
Here is the Grand Junction side of that building. Note the abutment for parking at the corner, next to the building.
Here are Cambridge’s lovely plans bragging about the southern terminus of the bike path with access on the wrong side from the safe side for bikes going to Memorial Drive.
Cambridge has been selling the responsible parts of this outrage for years. Standard con game. Get well intentioned folks sold, then stab them in the back.
The “bike path” will disappear for the off ramp when it is convenient for MIT. The suckers, AS USUAL, will be shocked.
This area shows in the first still above, as the thick trees above the BU Bridge on the Cambridge side. There is a very large former Ford Plant between the two.
Here is a good cropping of another representation in the plans.
Note the building in our two photos is toward the lower right corner. THIS PRESENTATION SHOWS ON THAT BUILDING’S LEFT THE UNDEVELOPED area which should be used for access to Vassar Street and Memorial Drive.
Once again, although it is there, the bend of Vassar Street is only minimally visible, but it is more than in the other plans. The route for bikes to take to the DANGEROUS Brookline Street is the curved street coming from the “park.” Brookline Street, to no surprise, is not shown. It is the next street after the vertical street and will be crucial in the “Oh Golly Gee” stage when MIT decides MIT wants the off ramp. It is very visible in MIT’s plan in the next section.
Where would the parking go from the strip taken for bike travel? The bottom right corner of this plan shows a corner of the Hyatt Regency Hotel complex. It or its neighbor off the plan has open lot parking to the left of the Hyatt Regency at this spot.
It would not be at all difficult to add a floor deck over that parking to accommodate the few cars parked in the area taken for bike access. Public taking with subsequent property division should really not be a big thing.
The bikes have much easier access to Memorial Drive than in the con game.
5. The Stalking Horse, part 4, MIT’s proposal for bike connection to Memorial Drive ― The reality on the Charles.
Expanding the Cambridge analysis presented above to include Cambridge’s Point 3. Point 3 is Cambridge’s Fort Washington Park. Cambridge’s analysis calls for open space but does not mention the attractiveness of area next to the Park area for connection to Vassar Street.
MIT submitted to the Cambridge City Council an extended analysis of the area / Grand Junction Path dated October 2014. It has a lot of graphics.
Here is MIT’s summary map of the options in the southern Grand Junction area. MIT’s map is a LOT CLEARER than what the City of Cambridge is putting out now. I have marked on MIT’s summary map a broken black line, the sensible connection I proposed in the prior section.
At the bottom of the map is Memorial Drive. Immediately above Memorial Drive and toward the right / east is Vassar Street. In contrast to the Cambridge presentations, the bend of Vassar Street is clearly shown. Above Vassar Street is the supposed “bike path.” MIT’s map shows the DANGEROUS bike access to Brookline Street (point 2) and which has the traffic nightmare KEPT SECRET in the Cambridge Analysis.
I have drawn the broken black line between the “bike path” and the bend of Vassar Street. This is the sensible connection I propose above. My proposed terminus and connection clearly goes straight ahead with a simple, fast connection to Memorial Drive.
Even ignoring traffic, connection to Memorial Drive by Cambridge’s proposed route by way of Brookline Street is clearly vastly inferior. But the bike path FOR THE SUPERIOR BIKE ACCESS has to be on the lower, southern side of the Grand Junction. The responsible bike access to Memorial Drive for bikes cannot be simply modified to the I90 off ramp and connection of the I90 off ramp to Magazine Street and Memorial Drive.
MIT HAS ITS OWN PROPOSAL FOR A BIKE CONNECTION TO VASSAR STREET. It is the marking between the “bike path” and Vassar Street to the right and up from my proposed connector. MIT’s access is at the point marked 3 in Cambridge’s presentation of the “bike path” con.
The number 1 on MIT’s map shows the route which MIT would take from the Fort Washington crossing to get to Memorial Drive. The route is simple although inferior to my proposal.
The MIT connection would cross over to Vassar Street from the Ft. Washington area, turn right and turn left. This is inferior to my proposal because MIT's “bike path” is on the northern side of the right of way (see next paragraph). It is also inferior because bicycles have a larger area shared with motor vehicles in the MIT alternative.
MIT’s map also gives a sample of the outrage south of Memorial Drive which Cambridge keeps secret.
That is marked by number 4, DIRECTLY THROUGH the Nesting Area of the Charles River White Geese. The nesting area and the Wild Area at number 5 are the only areas available for free animals in this part of the Charles. Access requires the bike path (future I90 off ramp) to be on the left / western side of the Grand Junction.
Route 4 would destroy the Nesting Area to which the reprehensible DCR and Cambridge have confined the Charles River White Geese without food. The Destroyed Nesting Area is the last portion of the 40 year habitat of the Charles River White Geese which has not been destroyed to them. The Charles River White Geese are most definitely not the only free animals living south of Memorial Drive. They are simply the most visible and the residents who are clearly loved.
Once again, the MIT “bike path” is on the left / west for access to Brookline Street / Memorial Drive for I90 traffic if not through the Destroyed Nesting Area.
Additionally, the fence which Cambridge demands next to the bike path would destroy free animal access between the Destroyed Nesting Area and the Wild Area.
And I have shown more in section 2 above.
6. The Stalking Horse, part 5, Who knows?
The minimal point at which the off ramp from I90 will end is Massachusetts Avenue. In reality, this updated Inner Belt could end at any of the other major streets in the stalking horse maps. At the very northern end, a lot would depend on the receptivity of Somerville.
Here is Cambridge’s key locations map cropped to the possible end points of the I90 off ramp / Inner Belt.
Key location 4 is Massachusetts Avenue.
Key location 5 is Main Street.
Between 5 and 6 is Broadway, not numbered. Could this be the target? Keeping it secret is ominous dealing with Cambridge.
Key location 6 is Little Binney Street.
Key location 7 / 8 is Cambridge Street in East Cambridge.
Key location 9 is Gore Street, Cambridge / Medford Street, Somerville. To the left it directly connects to the McGrath / O’Brien Highway which is elevated at this point, but access already exists in the street structure. Somerville / the DCR have mentioned lowering the McGrath / O’Brien to ground level.
In another map, Cambridge notes that “GLX” is above the bike way. In this map, note the T annotation to the top right marked Lechmere. This is the current location of the Lechmere terminus on the Green Line. The Lechmere Station is being moved to the other side of McGrath / O’Brien Highway for the Green Line Extension to Tufts / Medford.
How far will the off ramp go? There is no telling. All that is clear is that Cambridge is running a con game calling it a “bike path” from the Charles River to Somerville.
This report was originally presented on January 30, 2021. Our routine is to publish condensations on Facebook and in an email report to a limited distribution afterwards. I let the report sit here and think things over. Normally, I start the condensations from the blog report and chop things out.
This report is so long that even heavy editing made so sense. I just started on a teaser. That pointed out a very major defect in the blog report. I talked all around the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge, but did not physically get into it.: This final version, I hope, of the report, corrects that defect by putting in the section numbered as 1 (original 1 is now 0). This now appears as section 1, The Stalking Horse Part 0 . . .