Friday, April 27, 2007

Analyses of Urban Ring - Phase III

Bob La Trémouille reports.

1. Introduction.
2. General Analysis of the Urban Ring.
A. Introduction.
B. The transportation goals are all on the side of the Orange Line / Kenmore Crossing.
(1) Get people off the downtown subway.
(2) Provide clean connections with other transit lines and meaningful support for the Worcester / Framingham commuter rail.
(3) Support Fenway Park.
C. The environmental and financial goals are all in favor of the Orange Line / Kenmore Crossing.
3. Cambridge Chronicle letters.
A. Marilyn - Urban Ring Finances.
B. Your Editor.
(1) Introduction to the Chronicle editor - Issue in context.
(2) Environmental Harm to Cambridge - the neighborhood and the Charles River.
(3) Harvard Allston.
(4) Summary.

1. Introduction.

I have been actively defending the Charles River in Boston for nearly ten years now.

It has been distressingly amazing to learn the many, many attacks ongoing. It has also been surprising to see how many items are matters I have worked on even longer.

One of those attacks is the option for the Urban Ring transportation proposal supported by, of course, the City of Cambridge and its buddies in the state bureaucracy.

Yesterday, I gave you the MBTA maps for the Charles River crossings of the Urban Ring subway. Those maps date back to 2001.

I deliberately presented the maps in as neutral a manner as possible.

2. General Analysis of the Urban Ring.

A. Introduction.

Currently the state is proposing a massive highway build for a phase 2 of the Urban Ring, to precede phase 3 full scale subway.

Interestingly, some of the options certainly look like their expense pushes the cost of subway construction, and particular proposals would very much ensure that the inferior of the two Charles River crossings, the BU Bridge crossing, would be the one to go.

I support the Kenmore Crossing. My general reasons for supporting it were stated with the maps. From a transportation point of view, the Kenmore crossing is by far the better alternative.

B. The transportation goals are all on the side of the Orange Line / Kenmore Crossing.

(1) Get people off the downtown subway.

The main purpose of the subway system is to get people off the downtown subway.

Full scale Orange Line construction (Kenmore crossing) can do that.

Green line construction (BU Bridge crossing) cannot possibly get people off the downtown subway in any meaningful scale.

There is no comparison.

(2) Provide clean connections with other transit lines and meaningful support for the Worcester / Framingham commuter rail.

With regard to connections, there are major differences in the connections to the three green line branches and to the Worcester / Framingham commuter rail.

The proposal is intended to integrate the Worcester/Framingham commuter rail into the subway system.

This train could very easily drop hundreds of passengers onto the Green Line during rush hour.

The Green Line / BU Bridge crossing would drop those hundreds of passengers all on the already overloaded Commonwealth Avenue / Boston College / B branch. The transfer would include walking across Commonwealth Avenue even in the worst of weather.

The Orange Line / Kenmore crossing would provide covered transfers to all three Green Line branches.

There is no comparison.

(3) Support Fenway Park.

The Green Line / BU Bridge crossing would move Fenway Park's commuter rail station away from Fenway Park by a couple of blocks. The Orange Line / Kenmore Crossing would provide excellent, close connection.

There is no comparison.

C. The environmental and financial goals are all in favor of the Orange Line / Kenmore Crossing.

These are discussed below.

There is no comparison.

3. Cambridge Chronicle letters.

On April 19, 2007, the Cambridge Chronicle published a letter signed by among other people, Marilyn Wellons. She did not write it. It had major problems.

The following letters were published in the April 26, 2007 Cambridge Chronicle. Marilyn’s was published in full. Mine omitted the Harvard Allston analysis.

Subdivisioning is added.

A. Marilyn - Urban Ring Finances.

Editor, Cambridge Chronicle

To the Editor:

Thank you for the letter about the Urban Ring signed by me, among others. However, although it accurately states many objections to the buses (Phase 2) and properly endorses going directly to the rail part of the project (Phase 3), it seems to have a typographical error about rail that somehow slipped by.

Simply put, a light rail system is NOT a “smart choice.” According to the Urban Ring Major Investment Study, light rail’s capital costs, operating and maintenance costs, costs of mitigating vibration and electromagnetic interference with instruments at MIT and Longwood Medical Area, all are higher than for heavy rail. (The MBTA Green Line is light rail. The Orange and Red Lines are heavy rail.)

Comparing the cost effectiveness of bus, light rail, and heavy rail, the Study found that “the cost per passenger mile [of] the bus mode is the highest, followed closely by light rail and the heavy rail has the lowest cost.” Compared to Phase 2 buses and Phase 3 heavy rail, “Light Rail is the most expensive in both costs per vehicle revenue mile and per vehicle revenue hour by a large margin.” (MIS , 7-4.)

Given effective transportation’s critical importance to our region’s jobs and cost of living, we cannot afford to squander funds on Urban Ring buses or light rail. Short-sighted decisions, lack of strategic thinking, and lack of investment in transportation have contributed to the loss of population and businesses here, placing us at a tremendous disadvantage relative to other regions. Officials and the attentive public are well aware of these very real problems.

In this context, light rail, like the buses, would continue the errors of the past.

I hope this clarifies the situation regarding the Urban Ring, a very complicated subject.

B. Your Editor.

(1) Introduction to the Chronicle editor - Issue in context.

Editor: I realize this is a bit long for a letter. That is why I suggest, as an option, an op ed. Another possibility is to cut out the Harvard Allston analysis.

I am uncomfortable with the timing of this initiative, especially since an op-ed was printed at the same time from Stosh Horowitz concerning the North Point project. My discomfort comes from the fact that the project concerning the Hotel near Trader Joe's is perhaps the major current issue in this part of the city.

The problem with that hotel is a fake downzoning which legalized (with fake reviews) the Hotel's initiatives. Horowitz led that fake downzoning, and there has been distressingly aggressive censorship of issues relating to the hotel in the Cambridgeport listserve. See my blog for a sample of the censorship.

Kelley voted for that fake and very destructive fake downzoning. Is the Urban Ring noise a red herring? Nevertheless, correction is needed for incorrect statements.

(2) Environmental Harm to Cambridge - the neighborhood and the Charles River.

Cambridge Chronicle

In your 4/19/07 edition, you printed an extended discussion of the state’s Urban Ring plans. While the letter seems well intended, there were enough errors in it that people could be confused.

First of all, the letter supported amendment of a motion by Councilor Kelley. I understand Councilor Kelley does not seem to support amendment of his motion and amendment does not seem feasible.

Kelley’s motion seems to support a new state highway on top of the Grand Junction railway tracks in East Cambridge / Cambridgeport. This new highway could be another Inner Belt.

Secondly, the letter supported certain elements of “Phase III” of the Urban Ring plans but does not seem to understand Phase III.

Phase III is a proposal for a new subway line connecting Charlestown to Lechmere to MIT to the Harvard Medical Area to Ruggles.

The key differences are in the way the subway would cross the Charles River and in the type of vehicle used.

I proposed one option which is now a formal state option for crossing the Charles River. This is the Kenmore crossing.

I proposed the Kenmore crossing because the other crossing, the BU Bridge crossing, is so destructive to Cambridgeport.

The BU Bridge crossing would put a subway stop at the end of Putnam Avenue with obvious destructive impact on Cambridgeport. The BU Bridge crossing would also be highly destructive to a sensitive part of the Charles River in Cambridge.

That two pronged destructive impact on Cambridgeport is the reason I proposed the Kenmore crossing instead of the BU Bridge crossing in 1986. The state picked up the Kenmore crossing as a formal alternative in 1991.

The two different types of vehicle are: full scale subway in the manner of the Orange Line, and street cars in the manner of the Green Line. The Kenmore crossing is Orange Line technology. The BU Bridge crossing, with its very destructive Putnam Avenue and Charles River impacts, is Green Line technology.

The letter you printed included language favorable to the Green Line technology while opposing the destructiveness of Councilor Kelley’s highway. The difference in damage to Cambridgeport between the Green Line Phase III crossing and Kelley’s highway is only a matter of degree.

If you oppose Kelley’s highway, you should oppose the Green Line BU Bridge Phase III and you should support the Orange Line Kenmore Phase III.

(3) Harvard Allston.

Similarly, Councilor Kelley in 2005 gave people the impression that the Green Line BU Bridge crossing would support Harvard’s Allston project from the east. I went so far as to bring in the project managers to disprove this statement, but Councilor Kelley has never withdrawn this statement.

Currently, the state’s consultants have proposed four different ways to support Harvard Allston.

Every one of the current state options support Harvard Allston from the east with connections from Boston, Brookline and the Harvard Medical Area and on the west with connection to Harvard Square.

There would be a much better way to do the eastern connection with a new Green Line branch from the Boston end of the BU Bridge, but there is no meaningful eastern proposal (except for Councilor Kelley’s 2005 statement) from Cambridge.

(4) Summary.

I hope this analysis if of assistance. I have lived the Urban Ring since the mid-80's. It can be very distressing to see people fighting for items they might not support if they had full information.

Thank you.

Representative Walz supports environmental destruction at Magazine Beach

Bob La Trémouille reports:

1. Introduction.
2. Bob La Trémouille Response.
3. Marilyn Wellons Response, Letter to Representative Walz.

1. Introduction.

Several weeks ago, a former Cambridge School Committee member published a letter in the Cambridge Chronicle supporting destruction of Magazine Beach without saying he was supporting destruction of Magazine Beach. He said he was "improving" an unidentified Little League field. A week later, the Cambridge Chronicle published an anonymous supporting comment also not identifying the place being destroyed.

About three weeks after the anonymous communication, the original signer, Marc McGovern cosigned with State Representative Marty Walz a letter bragging about the destruction and identifying Magazine Beach.

The following are my and Marilyn Wellons' response to the more recent communication.

2. Bob La Trémouille Response.

It is always interesting to see the bad guys at work in Cambridge.

In November 1999, nine members of the Cambridge City Council voted for environmental irresponsibility at Magazine Beach, being fully aware of the harm to wildlife.

Since then nine members of the Cambridge City Council, with individual incumbents varying from time to time, have done their best not to know what they were doing.

When heartless killers targeted the Charles River White Geese, nine Cambridge City Councilors were "neutral" with what amounted to the usual complicant wink and a nod.

When the leader of the gaggle was brutally killed and the Cambridge Chronicle headlined our memorial ceremony, the Cambridge City Council was neutral with what amounted to the usual complicant wink and a nod.

When a young woman was murdered in what seemed to be clearly a graduation from killing geese, the Cambridge City Council spent an extended period discussing the killing. They just did not want to know where she was killed. Another wink and a nod.

The killer was sentenced to life and clearly looked like the goose killer.

The DCR took a poll. A majority thought that the Charles River was fine without "improvements."

Over a period of seven years, nobody could see any value in the most reprehensible part of the "improvements," the destruction of Magazine Beach.

Walling off Magazine Beach from the Charles River with designer bushes in place of wetlands was heralded with a swim-in that claimed that walling off the Charles River was a way to assist swimming in the Charles.

The starvation attacks involved in that bizarre walling off with vegetation which had no business on the Charles River was described by the DCR as doing "no harm" to the Charles River White Geese who were being starved by the project.

The DCR defined starvation as "no harm."

Finally, about a month ago, a former school committee member, Marc McGovern, supported in the Cambridge Chronicle a little league improvement at a location which that former school committee member did not identify.

One week later an anonymous message in the Chronicle agreed on the "improvement" at the unidentified location.

This looked to me like the sort of underhanded game that goes on.

Normal people consider the Magazine Beach playing fields perfectly adequate. The plans are dig up all the dirt, cart it away and replace it with dirt and poisons.

The DCR claims to want only water related activities on the banks of the Charles. They starve water birds, poison eggs of water birds and instal poisons to support "improvements" which are unnecessary for playing fields which are most definitely not water related.

The last time the DCR applied poisons to one of their water related playing fields was at Ebersol Fields near Mass. General Hospital.

This was last spring. The next day, the Charles was dead from the harbor to the Mass. Ave. bridge.

So Thursday, State Representative Marty Walz bragged about these destructive, environmentally wasteful "improvements" in the Cambridge Chronicle in response to the letter which did not identify the target. Walz identified the target as Magazine Beach.

Business as usual. Starve the animals, poison the environment and do it in response to a letter which identified nothing.

Truly reprehensible.

2. Marilyn Wellons Response, Letter to Representative Walz.

Dear Rep. Walz,

I was disturbed to read that you support the DCR's plan to install
commercial sod on the playing fields at Magazine Beach. Such sod will need
continuing applications of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
These chemicals are not good for young athletes or for the Charles
River's water quality.

The prototype of this project is the DCR's Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox
Fields at Lederman Park in Boston. In the spring of 2006 the agency
replaced 6 acres of grasses adapted to the water's edge there with commercial
sod. The unprecedented algae bloom in the Charles River just offshore
from these fields followed in August. "We've never seen an algae bloom
like this before," the Boston Globe quoted a Charles River Watershed
Association spokesperson as saying. There had never been runoff from 6
acres of chemically treated sod there before, either.

In fact, the algae bloom followed by days the application of "Tartan,"
a fungicide. The label warning for "Tartan" states it is not to be
used near bodies of water. Nevertheless, the DCR, citing the need for the
"quality of turf our players deserve," applied it to the stressed
grass. I attended the Boston Conservation Commission hearing at the DCR
representative made this statement.

In a part of the river that had been safe enough for swimming, the
algae bloom created a public health hazard, dangerous to humans and
wildlife. The DCR has never denied that runoff from the newly installed,
heavily fertilized, and chemically treated sod, including the use of
"Tartan," led to the algae bloom and cancellation of the second Charles River

The DCR now proposes to repeat the blunder at Magazine Beach's 7 acres.

Organized, regulation baseball at "Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at
Lederman Park" is not a "water-dependent activity" supposedly privileged
on Charles River parkland. Casual riverside ball playing, cited as
suitable by the Charles River Reservation's original designers a century
ago, bears no resemblance to the klieg lights on 60' high poles,
extensive fences, and chemically treated sod there or what is planned for
Magazine Beach.

Please also note that childrens' soccer leagues have backed off from
their endorsements of chemical lawn-care companies when they discovered
what exposure to the chemicals meant for the children. I do not know if
Little League teams have similar agreements or are aware of the

Please reconsider your support for the duplication of this disastrous
project at Magazine Beach.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Urban Ring Options - Detailed Maps

Bob La Trémouille reports:

1. Introduction.
2. BU Bridge / Green Line option in Cambridge.
3. Kenmore / Orange Line Option in Cambridge.
4. Boston Side.
a. General.
b. BU Bridge / Green Line Crossing.
c. Kenmore / Orange Line Crossing.
d. Need for Green Line Technology on BU Bridge / Green Line Option.
5. Summary.
6. Application to my suggestion that Harvard Allston be serviced by a Green Line Branch.

1. Introduction.

We have done a lot of discussing of the various Urban Ring options for the subway, third phase.

To clarify things, I am providing the official MBTA maps of the two crossings. First are two maps showing Cambridge impact. Alternatives 1 / 3 is the BU Bridge / Green Line technology option. Alternative 2 is the Kenmore / Orange Line technology option.

The semi-solid line on both Cambridge maps is the proposed subway alignment. Both routes have a stop under Mass. Ave. at the Grand Junction Railroad tracks. Also shown are other stops in the east part of Cambridge. Both alternatives, after the variation in crossings and related stops, have stops in the Harvard Medical Area.

The third map is a very detailed map showing the alternatives on the Boston side. It is complicated and is not ideally presented.

The maps are best viewed if you double click on them for blow-ups.

2. BU Bridge / Green Line option in Cambridge.

The BU Bridge / Green Line option continues under the Grand Junction after the MIT stop. It apparently cuts left after going under Memorial Drive, destroying the woods and then in Boston traveling under the small connector from Soldiers Field Road / Storrow Drive.

3. Kenmore / Orange Line Option in Cambridge.

The Kenmore / Orange Line technology crossing continues a little bit under the Grand Junction after the MIT stop. It then travels under the MIT playing fields and under the Charles River. It would apparently enter Kenmore Square under the eastern of the two north south side streets.

4. Boston Side.

a. General.

The dark area at the top of the map is the Charles River. Very careful viewing will identify broken lines starting at the Charles River in the left and right top areas. The two lines come together sort of in the lower left. The combined line then curves and goes to the right.

The left line is the BU Bridge / Green Line Crossing. The right line is the Kenmore / Orange Line crossing. The combined line starts on Brookline Avenue near the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and curves under Longwood Avenue for the Longwood Medical Area service.

b. BU Bridge / Green Line Crossing.

The left, BU Crossing / Green Line technology, line has two oblong areas along its route.

The higher of these is a proposed station under Mountfort Street at St. Mary's Street (St. Mary's is marked above the station). The proposal calls for the Yawkey Commuter Rail stop to be moved away from Fenway Park and be located just east of this station.

Connection between the Urban Ring subway and Commonwealth Avenue's B line would be accomplished by a tunnel under St. Mary's which would let people off on the southern Commonwealth Avenue sidewalk. Travellers would then cross Comm. Ave. traffic to BU Central station.

Commuter Rail travelers from Worcester, Framingham, etc. would walk through the Urban Ring station and tunnel to the B Line for Green Line connections.

The second oblong is under Park Drive for a new Urban Ring station to be located between the current D line Fenway Park station and Beacon Street. A new C line station would be built under Beacon Street to make that connection.

c. Kenmore / Orange Line Crossing.

The right line has only one oblong / station. That station would be located under the Brookline Avenue bridge over the Mass. Pike. It would directly connect to Kenmore station on one end and Yawkey Station on the other.

In contrast to the BU Bridge crossing, this station would provide excellent connection to Fenway Park and ready transfers for hundreds of commuter rail travelers to all three green lines.

d. Need for Green Line Technology on BU Bridge / Green Line Option.

The BU Bridge crossing has to use Green Line technology. It cannot use Orange Line technology because of a sharp right turn where Mountfort Street turns to Park Drive. This turn is slightly to the right of the Mountfort station.

5. Summary.

I hope these maps are of value.

6. Application to my suggestion that Harvard Allston be serviced by a Green Line Branch.

On the first of these maps, if you look at the bottom of the map, you are looking at Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. There are a lot of T’s on Comm. Avenue, denoting Green Line B stops.

Just to the left of the crossing is a solid north-south line indicating the BU Bridge.

Just to the left of the BU Bridge can be seen the Mass. Pike and just below the Mass. Pike is another solid line.

That last solid line is the Commuter Rail line from Worcester / Framingham to Boston.

Harvard owns pretty much everything from that line going up the left side of the map.

The Green Line B branch goes up the middle of Commonwealth Avenue.

My proposal would have a branch created by putting in switches on the Green line rails just west of the BU Bridge. Tracks would be laid ABOVE the commuter rail first on Commonwealth Avenue, then on a bridge directly above the commuter rail.

The bridge would extend above the rail yard which you see on the left and then drop so that a stop for Harvard Allston could be created between Cambridge Street and Western Avenue under a street which currently connects the two. Harvard wants this street to be made a major boulevard running to North Harvard Street just south of Harvard Stadium.

The Harvard Allston spur would continue under this boulevard, under the Charles River and under JFK Park at JFK Street and Memorial Drive.

Just north of JFK park is a tunnel which has never been removed by the MBTA which connected a temporary station at the JFK School to the Harvard Station. That tunnel could create a terminus for the Harvard Allston connector which would directly connect to the underground bus tunnels at Harvard Station.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

State Senator Travellini to be Replaced

Bob La Trémouille reports:

1. General.
2. Evaluation of Senator Travellini.
3. Evaluation of Senator Barrios.
4. Announcement of Senate Candidates Debate.

1. General.

I have received an announcement of a debate by the potential replacements for Senator Robert Travellini, the State Senator representing the Charles River White Geese.

The announcement is below in part 4.

2. Evaluation of Senator Travellini.

The situation with regard to Travellini was as follows:

The earliest clear, unambiguous understanding we had of the pending destruction of the goose habitat was when the goose meadow was destroyed by Boston University acting on behalf of the DCR (then MDC) in October 1999.

As part of the destruction, the former solid fence at the sidewalk was opened up. This, of course, encouraged the geese to wander out and bad guys to wander in. Marilyn went to Travellini's office to complain about the opening.

The minute Travellini heard that the fence had been opened up and the pieces left to one side, he said he would take care of it. He got on the phone in front of her to show her his sincerity.

The next day, the pieces which had been taken out of the fence had been removed.

3. Evaluation of Senator Barrios.

Barrios, of course, has been one of the worst. Barrios was the State Representative representing the Charles River White Geese. He timed the announcement of his candidacy for State Senate in such a manner that he encouraged the destruction of his district as part of a general redistricting.

Barrios's lead action was a letter in the Cambridge Chronicle in the beginning of August 2000, cosigned by the MSPCA. Barrios and the MSPCA proposed "humane treatment" for the Charles River White Geese.

I posted sarcastic fliers reporting his initiative and proposing "humane treatment" for Barrios. Barrios then went on Cambridge Community Television objecting to what he called my inciting his assassination.

4. Announcement of Senate Candidates Debate.

RNA Moderator wrote:

Ward 5 Democratic Committee and the Cambridge City Democratic Committee are jointly sponsoring a forum for the two Democratic candidates, Anthony Petroccelli and Dan Rizzo, who are running for election to the recently vacated Senate seat of Robert Travaligni. I believe it is the First Middlesex and Suffolk District, but don't quote me on that.

The forum will be held on Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 7:00 - 8:30 P.M., at LBJ Apartments, 150 Erie Street, between Brookline and Pearl. It's important that we get as many people there as possible so the new Senator understands that Cambridge is part of the district.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Censorship in Cambridge, MA

Bob La Trémouille Reports:

1. Introduction.
2. The leader of the core group’s communication.
3. Your editor’s censored response.
4. Censorship Notice.
5. Your editor’s response.
6. Yahoo! Groups Notification wrote.
7. Roy Bercaw Responds.

1. Introduction.

I have mentioned the problems with “grass roots organizations” in Cambridge which have nebulous connections to the City of Cambridge.

One of these groups, the so-called Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association used to have a rather vibrant listserve, until it started censoring things.

What follows is a series of emails and censorships with names deleted to protect the guilty.

“Derogatory stereotyping of a group" is given as the reason to censor disagreement with statements of the leader of the CNA core group concerning the CNA and its record.

Outrageous, yes!!!

I understand the leader of the CNA core group earns a living in a municipal field.

The guy doing the actual censoring leads a related and just formed “Green” group. I had an extended discussion with him about the fact that the group's organizers could give a damn less about destruction of the Green ongoing by the powers that be in Cambridge. He did not see any problem with that.

Censored document is in section 3. “Reasons” for censorship are in section 4.

2. The leader of the core group’s communication.

[Ed. This series of communications, in typical email fashion, led with section 6 and continued in reverse order. There was doubling of communications. I have deleted the doubling and structured chronologically.

[Additionally, I do not remember the letter in this section as the communication to which I (section 3) was responding. My response was intended to specifically respond to particular comments. This document does not track. Could it have been substituted in the process or could I have responded to the wrong email?

[If I find the one I remember, I will substitute. I am confused, but there is key stuff here in sections 3, 4 and 5 which are of value.]

Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association letter opposing setback reduction in front of Radisson Hotel site attached. Letter urges that open space and parkland uses along the river are cherished, unique, used by thousands from neighborhood and region and setback reduction along a river would be very bad precedent. Other reasons included. Letter follows vote by general membership at last meeting of Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association. Letter was hand-delivered to Planning Board today to meet March 13th deadline for inclusion in package sent to Board members.

FYI, next Planning Board meeting on Radisson setback and Radisson zoning is March 20th. Notice of meeting was previously forwarded to group.

Signed: The leader of the Core Group.

3. Your editor’s censored response.

Bob LaTrémouille wrote:

Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 01:40:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: Bob "LaTrémouille"
Subject: Re: [cportneighbors] Letter re Radisson Hotel zoning from Neighborhood Association
To: Cambridgeport Neighbors

The one thing you are doing a terrific job on is patting yourself on the back. This undeserved self-praise gives the false impression that you are on the side you claim to be on.

I would have responded to this yesterday, but we seem to have an Animal Farm situation here. I am quite certain this is not the ONLY communication from you on Monday. All animals are created equally, but some are more equal than others. [Ed: The Core Group previously limited posts to one per day. The Core Group's leader had two posts on this particular day. His self-praising was the second of the day.]

On Blessed Sacrament, you did a great job yelling about it being too large. So you made it LARGER.

We are faced with massive and highly irresponsible destruction of the green on Memorial Drive, 449 to 660 trees, all wetlands, all animal habitat. So you created a "green" organization which has no business calling itself "green." "Look at our fancy light bulbs. Don't look at the massive destruction of the green."

And now you are falsely calling yourself on the neighborhood side with regard to the outrageous zoning destruction between Putnam Avenue and Memorial Drive and between the MicroCenter and Riverside Press. You have destroyed yard requirements at the WHIM of appointees of your buddy, the City of Cambridge. You have massively increased the retail district.

Now, with crocodile tears, you claim to be concerned about yard requirements after you have thrown out the yard requirements. You have trashed meaningful protections for the right to near meaningless objections. So, with crocodile tears, when it has almost no value because of your destructive zoning, you are objecting.

You are as much on the neighborhood side on zoning as you are on the neighborhood side on destruction of the green.

But you love fancy light bulbs and you love next to meaningless objections.

4. Censorship Notice.

The head of the “green group” which could care less about destruction of the Green wrote:

This posting was deleted because it did not conform with a rule of the list:

"...language that is defamatory, libelous, personally insulting, profane, threatening, obscene, or indecent --including but not limited to name-calling, vulgarity, and derogatory stereotyping of groups--is inappropriate, is not allowed, and/or should be avoided on Cportneighbors." [Ed.: Bolding in original]

click below to read the full "Cportneighbors Rules and Procedures":

Thank you.

5. Your editor’s response.

Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2007 22:51:54 -0700 (PDT)
To: Cambridgeport Neighbors
From: Bob "LaTréémouille"
Subject: RE: Re: [cportneighbors] Letter re Radisson Hotel zoning from Neighborhood Association

How dare anybody talk reality.

Something might get done that people CLAIM to stand for.

You have a group which is lying about itself to the great damage of the cause for which it claims to stand.

It is prohibited to say that your group is lying about itself because that is "stereotyping of a group."

So what is allowed is the sort of nonsense that the CNA and YOU pat yourself on the back for screwing the causes you claim to stand for.

I would call that shameless.

6. Yahoo! Groups Notification wrote:

Date: 17 Apr 2007 07:37:47 -0000
From: Yahoo! Groups Notification
Subject: Message to cportneighbors group not approved


Your message to the cportneighbors group was not approved. The owner of the group controls the content posted to it and has the right to approve or reject messages accordingly.

In this case, your message was automatically rejected because the moderator didn't approve it within 14 days. We dothis to provide a high quality of service for our users. A complete copy of your message has been attached for your

Thank you for choosing Yahoo! Groups


Yahoo! Groups Customer Care

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to

7. Roy Bercaw Responds.

What I find amazing is the great difference in standards between the CNA list and the City's standards. The City violated laws unless there is a high likelihood of being sued. At CNA it is what if someone does not like what is posted?

[Ed: I see the censorship as part of a pattern of Core Groups with nebulous relationships to the City of Cambridge doing whatever it takes to achieve the environmentally destructive goals of the City of Cambridge and taking advantage of well-intentioned people in th process.]

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Urban Ring Phase 2 Policy Order before the Cambridge City Council Monday, April 23, 2007

Marilyn Wellons sent the following e-mail to two neighborhood associations in Cambridge about three transportation meetings she attended in the week ending April 13, 2007.

Presentations at those meetings bear on a Policy Order about the Urban Ring Phase 2 tabled at the Cambridge City Council session on April 9. On April 23, 2007, the Council will again consider the Order. Although the Order identifies compelling reasons that justify rejection of Phase 2, it nevertheless asks the Council to endorse the project.

In addition to the Order's self-contradiction, Wellons gives other reasons to reject both the Order and the Urban Ring Phase 2.


Dear Neighbors,

The recent transportation meetings I've attended have focused on the costs to
the region of poor transportation planning in the past. Just this morning [April 13, 2007] Secretary Bernard Cohen recited a litany of items in the region's "declining [transportation]infrastructure" that must be addressed. Last night we heard a projected increase of Storrow use in the next 23 years of 3%, which is close to nothing. On Wednesday the RTAC heard a presentation on "How Massachusetts's Neighbors are Responding to 21st Century Transportation Challenges," and the message was, Much Better Than Here.

In New England we're at the end of every supply line, and the costs of living
reflect that. Even so, the state has done little to improve efficiency and reduce
transportation costs. Short-sighted decisions, lack of strategic thinking, and
lack of investment in this sector have contributed to the loss of population and
businesses. They now place us at a tremendous disadvantage relative to other regions.

To take only the example of the Urban Ring Phase 2: while other cities--New York,
San Francisco among them--are building rail for rapid transit, Metro Boston is going
for buses. Phase 2 buses, grade-separated or not, are a false economy that will
only confirm the region's stagnation. Councillor Kelley's proposed Order
itself, while paradoxically endorsing the bus highway, indicates some of Phase 2's
costs: air pollution, asthma, heart and lung disease, diversion of resources from
better projects. And there are additional costs not mentioned in that order, i.e.,
damage to freight capacity at the Beacon freight yards in Allston, corresponding
damage to roads and highways from the resulting increased truck traffic, loss of
public parkland, damage to our neighborhoods.

While other regions--NY-NJ-CT and VA-WVA-OH--are actually building (not just thinking
about or studying) multi-modal freight infrastructure to create jobs at the ports
and from the ports throughout the transportation corridors, Massachusetts is not.
These other states' investments in multi-modal freight reduce the money costs
of fuel, air pollution, and damage to roads and highways, and corresponding costs
to quality of life. They're investments that make things better.

In Massachusetts we have the Turnpike Authority selling the Beacon yards to Harvard
for a pittance. In this deal, all the lawyers for Harvard and the Pike somehow
missed the need for an easement for the freight yards--the closest to the Port of
Boston--and for the Pike itself. Only the intervention of the Attorney General,
at the very last minute, at the Registry of Deeds, prevented the obliteration of
this public interest in the property.

It is simply not true that the universities, bio-tech, and the medical industry
or the like will keep everything ok, or at least ok for those now relatively well-off.
In the past, medical interns and residents competed for who would stay in Boston.
Now they leave, knowing they can't afford to live here. Fidelity is moving
out as quickly as possible, taking thousands of jobs to North Carolina, for example,
where the company's costs are less and their employees will live better for
much less. Here, with the continuing loss of population and businesses, tax revenues
will fall. There will be even less money for ordinary maintenance of public assets,
let alone the improvements necessary for the region's competitiveness.

Officials and attendees at the transportation meetings mentioned are well aware
of these very real problems.

In this context, building another bus route, grade-separated or not, would continue
the errors of the past. It would also squander whatever funds might be available
for real public transportation.

As voters and members of the attentive public, we also bear some responsibility
for our planners' and elected officials' short-sightedness in the past.
The Urban Ring bus highway, grade-separated or not, is planning consistent with
what has brought us to a difficult spot. I believe we and our elected officials
should reject it.

Yours sincerely,
Marilyn Wellons

Friday, April 13, 2007

Secretary of Transportation Reaffirms Interest in Grand Junction Railway in Cambridge

Bob La Tremouille Reports:

1. General.
2. The Grand Junction according to Secretary Cohen.
3. The Grand Junction’’s Importance, comments from Port Authority representatives.
A. General.
B. Importance of the Allston Freight Yards.
C. Container Service Drives Moving the Allston Freight Yards.
D. Port Authority Position.

1. General.

At the MOVEMassachusetts monthly meeting this morning, April 13, 2007, the guest was the Secretary of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bernard Cohen.

Secretary Cohen gave the packed room an impressive presentation which was both comprehensive and lacking in detail. In the middle of his long list of ongoing efforts was a comment on negotiations with CSX about obtaining rights of way for state transportation use.

2. The Grand Junction according to Secretary Cohen.

Marilyn Wellons was the first member of the audience to be recognized for questions. She did not even blink. She did not ask if he was talking about the Grand Junction. She simply translated his words as the Grand Junction and asked for the details.

Secretary Cohen declined to provide details since negotiations are in process. He did comment that freight transportation is being encouraged through plans for raising bridges to allow double stacked freight cars to be able to pass.

3. The Grand Junction’s Importance, comments from Port Authority representatives.

A. General.

After the meeting, Marilyn was addressed by representatives of the Port Authority who were quite interested in the freight issues. One thing that they were proud of was inserting language into the deed of the freight yards to Harvard in which a tiny portion of the yards could not be taken away from freight use.

There are a whole bunch of things going on, as usual.

Clearly and very visibly, the state is working to put in the inner belt on top of the Grand Junction railway.

In its usual manner, the City Council has a motion on its table claiming to protect Cambridge from this new highway while supporting the initiative if the initiative is done in a manner that the state says it wants to do it. The city council calls this “protection.” I call it being on the wrong side and tossing nonsense at their constituents.

B. Importance of the Allston Freight Yards.

The freight yards in Allston that Harvard has purchased are of major importance.

Harvard is not a charitable institution. Harvard did not buy the Allston freight yards out of a charitable impulse. Harvard bought those freight yards four months after the MBTA proved the Grand Junction bridge capable of taking traffic from the Mass. Pike and moving that traffic to Cambridge.

The rail traffic on the Grand Junction moves cars between the Allston yards and the North Station yards. If there is no meaningful Allston yards, there is no need for the Grand Junction.

If there is no need for meaningful Allston yards, Harvard has that much more room for easy expansion.

C. Container Service Drives Moving the Allston Freight Yards.

CSX has long been considering moving the freight yards outside I-495.

This is because of container service. Containers are carried on freight cars over long distances and moved to/from truck beds for local delivery. When containers were first used, they were only used one high on the freight cars. In more recent years, two containers high has become the norm. A very, very large number of bridges over railroad tracks inside I-495 were not built high enough above the railroad tracks to allow double container cars to be able to go under them.

If the freight yards are moved to I-495, our highways would be subjected to a lot more truck traffic.

If the freight yards are moved to I-495, Harvard can build on the yards.

If the freight yards are moved to I-495, the need for the Grand Junction railroad disappears.

If the freight yards are moved to I-495, the inner belt can be built on the Grand Junction using whatever sales pitch works.

D. Port Authority Position.

The gentleman from the Port Authority rather clearly had no problems with moving the freight yards. He rather clearly thought providing adequate bridge clearance for double container trains to be an impractical use of money.

4. Summary.

But thanks to Marilyn, an excellent question brought out some good information.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

State Conducts Urban Ring Update in Fenway

1. Introductory.
2. Charles River Crossing.
3. Harvard’s Allston Campus.
4. Summary.

1. Introductory.

Last night, April 9, the state conducted the middle of three urban ring updates in the collegiate arts building behind Fenway Park on Ipswich Street. The last update meeting will be conducted next Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Somerville High School Auditorium.

The Urban Ring is a massive transportation project supposedly designed to ease public transportation needs for a ring one to two miles outside Downtown Boston. The part which makes sense is rapid transit. The state is talking buses and new highways before doing anything on the rapid transit.

There were significant changes in that part of the proposal which most impacts us. As usual, key comments from the state differed significantly from Cambridge reports.

2. Charles River Crossing.

As an option, the state has proposed conversion of the Grand Junction railroad bridge under the BU Bridge to a two way highway. Contrary to the Cambridge reports, at no time has this highway been proposed to go to Harvard’s Allston campus.

This latest report has changed the point at which this new bridge would connect to Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. The DOT consultants are proposing that the traffic lanes go under the BU Bridge on an expanded Grand Junction bridge and then be elevated on a new bridge which would go over the Mass. Pike. The new state highway would connect to Commonwealth Avenue apparently above the Mass. Pike, west of the BU Bridge.

There clearly is plenty of room on Commonwealth Avenue above the Mass. Pike to make this connection. The new connection, however, would greatly complicate what is already a complicated intersection. It would have devastating environmental impacts in Cambridge.

Other alternatives suggested for crossing the Charles River as part of new highway construction include a possible bridge / tunnel to the east of the BU Bridge. I remember the discussion but do not see it on my copy of the slides. The handout differs from what was shown in several aspects.

Archie Mazmanian, a Brookline activist from the Cottage Farm neighborhood spoke against use of the Grand Junction bridge, among other things because of the environmental destruction on the Cambridge side. He tells me that the Citizen’s Advisory Committee has also been informed of a third Charles River construction option, to add two lanes to the BU Bridge.

Archie referred me to the "On Brookline" website, which can be read at

They clearly present his reports quite visibly. He was modest in communicating the level of visibility. I will add a link to this website for the benefit of people.

3. Harvard’s Allston Campus.

The very big change was the formal addition of proposals for bringing Harvard Allston into the scheme. At no time (contrary to Cambridge nonsense) has the state ever proposed connecting the Grand Junction to Harvard Allson.

I had to drag this information out of the presenter, frequently having to correct him on street names and to dig out exact details. The rest of the audience clearly was closely listening because I was immediately corrected at one point when I made an error in referring to Harvard Avenue / Street in Allston Village.

The straight bus option would be quite simple, just go out Comm. Ave. to Brighton Avenue, turn at Allston Village, to Cambridge Street to North Harvard, to Harvard Square, with grade separation at Harvard Stadium.

As they get fancier, the level of new construction increases dramatically.

The next level of complexity calls for turning off Commonwealth Avenue at Packard’s Corner on the street which hits the Packard's Corner intersection from the north. This would include a bridge over the Harvard owned railroad yard, a left turn, and up Cambridge Street. This proposal uses a new road Harvard is proposing on the major road which goes north from Cambridge Street between North Harvard and the river. Harvard is proposing that this road be upgraded and connect to North Harvard Street, I guess just before Harvard Stadium. This proposal includes a lot of grade separation on Harvard's upgraded street.

The extreme proposal would service Harvard Allston by a tunnel which starts at Mountfort Street. Mountfort Street is just south of the Mass. Pike connecting the BU Bridge spaghetti to Park Drive. The tunnel would start very close to St. Mary’s Street which ends at Marsh Chapel, the current core of the BU Campus. This location is the proposed location for an Urban Ring Rapid Transit stop in phase 3.

4. Summary.

The spaghetti in the BU Bridge - Harvard Medical Area is getting so massive it is silly to call the complicated options anything other than Phase III with the decision made for the worse of the two Charles River crossing options.

I spoke against the spaghetti.

Instead of connecting the Grand Junction Bridge to Commonwealth Avenue just west of BU Bridge, I suggested that area be used to connect to Harvard Allston. My proposal would put switches in the Green Line in this area and run a new street car line off Commonwealth Avenue just south of the Mass. Pike, following the Mass. Pike to the south to Harvard's railroad yards.

Such a green line spur would be far less intrusive than the Grand Junction connection. There is quite a bit of slack in this complicated intersection, and the location where the tracks would cross highway traffic can handle this added activity, particularly since the street cars would be going onto the existing tracks and not be added to the traffic pattern except to cross.