Saturday, March 05, 2011

Anderson Bridge project, Comments to Environment People

Marilyn Wellons has submitted comments on the Anderson Bridge project to MEPA. Her comments include deficiencies in the BU Bridge project as well.

Her comments follow:

March 4, 2011

Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: MEPA Office
Deirdre Buckley, EEA No. 14702

Dear Secretary Sullivan:

Please note that the stormwater system for this project is still to be determined. The ENF proposes a retrofit of the existing outfall between the Anderson Bridge and the Weld boathouse in Cambridge. Other outfalls along the Charles are so degraded, however, that such a plan may not prove practicable. The plan is contingent on a “practicability” yet to be determined. It seems unwise to proceed without fuller review of what amounts to a blank check here.

At the BU Bridge, the stormwater system chosen by DCR and adopted by EOT/DOT expanded the footprint of the bridge, contrary to ABP controls. It permanently destroys riverfront public parkland. The new Chapter 91 license necessary for the expanded footprint prevented the Cambridge Conservation Commission from requiring an alternative to the hydrodynamic separator and headwall. There is nothing in the ENF before you that would prevent a similar outcome in this instance.

Please also note that the proposed strip along the spandrel walls designed to prevent trees from growing there may expand the bridge’s footprint and require a new Chapter 91 license.

The planned removal of trees and the “restoration” of the landscape is said to be consistent with the DCR’s Master Plan, whose factual errors about species and habitat inform the ENF’s errors. Here, where many beautiful mature trees must fall for legitimate reasons, the plan resorts to doublespeak grounded in the Master Plan, to assert the hawthorns’ threats to “public safety” or the cherries’ Asian provenence as reasons to remove them. These overwhelmingly gratuitous removals reflect current fashion and not—as the ENF itself admits—historical accuracy. The “positive vistas from the travelway” cited to justify the removals will be traffic on the two riverfront highways, not of these beautiful established elements of the historic landscape.

We are led to believe that reducing motor vehicle lanes on the bridge to allow for bike paths will not add to congestion or degrade air quality. Absent supporting documentation, that seems unlikely.

You are charged with responsibility for thorough environmental review of this project. For these reasons above I urge you to require an Environmental Impact Study.

Yours sincerely,

Marilyn Wellons