Friday, February 09, 2018

Highway rebuilding (I90) on the Charles River. Environmental Comments 1: Key environmental points, Impact on Local Transportation.

Highway rebuilding (I90) on the Charles River.  Environmental Comments 1: Key environmental points, Impact on Local Transportation.

I. Introduction.
II. Index to the Environmental Comments.
III. Segment 1 of the Environmental Comments.

I. Introduction.

I have been remiss in my posts on this blog because I have been putting massive amounts of work on Environmental Comments in more official settings.  The biggest has been my work on the Rebuilding of Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) which is across the Charles River from the habitat of the Charles River White Geese. 

I previously tried to post a less large version of these formal comments.  They overwhelmed the app.  So the final comments are going to have to be presented piecemeal.

The way things work out, this segment has to be the general introductory matters, the usual dirty tricks by fake Cambridge protectors, and one impact on Memorial Drive, the highway next to the 37 year habitat of the Charles River White Geese.  This will show you a lot more than I have tried to do in the past about this area. 

This general analysis is introductory, but it says quite a bit.  When combined with the rest of analysis, you will have a very large amount.  The table of contents is quite illustrative on itself.

Presented in this report, as well, is the first substantive section, concerning one impact on traffic going to Cambridge, and reporting a major victory in this fight.

The acronym “DEIR” has long been a source of mystery to me.  I think, but am not positive that it means “Draft Environmental Impact Report.”

The bureaucrats of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) are submitting this draft to the state environmental people to have them clean it up so that the project can satisfy environmental laws.

The document to which we are responding is on line at

II. Index to the Environmental Comments.

February 6, 2018

Secretary Matthew A. Beaton
Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs
Attn: MEPA Office
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: Allston I90 Interchange Improvement Project DEIR

1. Introduction.
A. Maneuvering with maximum secrecy by forces in Cambridge who cannot win in broad daylight.
B. The Issues.
2. Properly planned, the project can reduce traffic on Memorial Drive and elsewhere.
3. Properly planned, the project can reduce the existing overloading on the Red Line.
A. West Station should be trashed along with the publicly defeated Commuter Rail on the Grand Junction concept.
(1) Introductory.
(2) Trash it on railroad management grounds.
(a) Stations too close together.
(b) Projections for both adjacent stations are so low that delaying long distance commuters makes no sense.
(3) Trash West Station on grounds that it has been sold to well meaning people on an unsound basis.
(4) Statement that the project “does not preclude implementation of rapid transit services” is not true.
(5) Commuter Rail Shuttles from Longwood are Nonsense.
(6) Trash West Station on the grounds that the interests in Cambridge fighting for it are attempting to achieve, basically in secret, a goal they have been PROPERLY denied when their project was presented in light of day.
(a) General.
(b) This Outrageous Goal:  Commuter Rail on the Grand Junction.
(i) No value to anybody but Kendall ‒ MassDOT Finding, when they were allowed responsible community input.
(ii) Environmentally destructive because it would block 7 major intersections, create major inconvenience to drivers, and create pollution from vehicle exhaust, waiting for commuter train passage.
(iii) Environmentally destructive because it would devastate the last visible animal habitat on this portion of the Charles River.
B. Far superior and far more responsible than Commuter Rail on the Grand Junction would be a new Green Line A Spur running from Commonwealth Avenue and the B.U. Bridge to the main work site in Allston to Harvard Square, which should be enthusiastically supported..
(1) General.
(2) Harvard Square.
(3) Summary.
4. Two of the three “throat” options are destructive to the Charles River or to Cambridge.  Cambridge destruction not documented in any analysis.
A. Architects’ (ABC) Proposal ‒ Outrageous Destruction of Boston River Bank.
B. Both non MassDOT Proposals ‒ Massive Destruction in Cambridge, Destruction ignored in DEIR.
5. Impact on Wildlife / Selected examples of Heartless Animal Abuse.
A. Direct Application.
B. A terrible record being made worse.
6. The Real Game ‒ M.I.T.’s Updated Inner Belt.

III. Segment 1 of the Environmental Comments.

Gentlemen / Ladies:

1. Introduction.

A. Maneuvering with maximum secrecy by forces in Cambridge who cannot win in broad daylight.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts of Massachusetts’ Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is considering rebuilding the I90 (Mass. Pike) Interstate on the Boston Side of the Charles River between the BU Bridge and the River Street Bridge with a portion of the project north of the River Street Bridge.

People who are fighting for destruction of the environment on the Charles River and inside the City of Cambridge are fighting for a whole bunch of destruction. 

The really destructive stuff are

a. The Fight for an off ramp to MIT’s portion of Cambridge.  This is being forwarded by a fight to rebuild the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge with bikes as the stalking horse.  The Inner Belt was defeated in the 70's when it was proposed publicly.  So now they are calling it a bike path.

b. The Fight for Commuter Rail on the Grand Junction Railroad through Cambridge.  This was also defeated when studied in public by MassDOT.  So now the euphemism is West Station.

c. A fight to kill the right turn from the west bound Soldiers Road off ramp at the River Street Bridge to the River Street Bridge.  This initiative is a spin off OF OUR PROPOSAL to kill the left turn off this ramp.  Our proposal was called out of scope, and then was made a major improvement in the proposal, but has been proposed as killing both the right and left turns.

MassDOT has been kept from meaningful communication to Cambridge residents

Forces in Cambridge are fighting to attain goals which they have not achieved in public by doing so behind closed doors.  Cambridge has a system of Fake Protective Groups which dates back three city managers BEFORE the current City Manager.

The strings appear to be pulled on the Fake Protective Groups by the Cambridge Development Department (CDD).  The CDD has directed MassDOT to ONLY contact their local Fake Protective Group which claims to represent the area between the BU Bridge and the River Street Bridge.  MassDOT has been told to not contact anyone else.

This prohibition on contact has kept MassDOT from contacting the people who killed Commuter Rail during the last study, a project favored by the CDD.

This prohibition on contact has kept MassDOT from contacting the vast majority of Cantabridgians who use or would use the right turn at the River Street Bridge.  The neighborhood that Fake Group claims to represent includes only a tiny number of people who would be impacted because to get to the River Street Bridge, it is appropriate to pass by the neighborhood that that Fake Group claims to represent.

It gets worse because entities on the study committee who are most loudly fighting to kill both turns were very visible fighting for the destruction of hundreds of trees and animal habitat east of the BU Bridge by the DCR AND BY THE FAKE GROUP WHICH IS CLAIMED TO REPRESENT PEOPLE.  The SAME Fake Group is currently fighting for destruction of 56 trees in Magazine Beach area, once again in support of the DCR and the Cambridge Development Department / City Council. 

The most important pitch of this fake group is not to look at what they are doing.  Look at what they tell you to look at.  Censorship and other corrupt tactics are normal from this Fake Group.  They cannot win if they progress their case honestly.

Public contact as part of the study group was limited, through most of its existence, to an official of the Cambridge Development Department.  It was subsequently expanded to include Henrietta Davis, a former city councilor who was one of the two councilors most destructive on the Charles River in support of CDD goals.

By contrast, we, who proposed and got the most significant change in the I90 project, the killing / replacement of the left turn at the River Street Bridge, have not only not been appointed to the study committee, but have not even been able regularly to get dates / times of meetings.

B. The Issues.

The I90 Allston Rebuild Project is in an interesting situation.  Comments on its Draft Environmental Impact Report are due on February 9, 2018, but communications to MassDOT as of the MassDOT presentation in Brookline on December 12, 2017 concerning West Station have been so extensive that MassDOT is seriously reconsidering its proposed handling of West Station.

Additionally, comments at the January 4, 2018, Morse School presentation, and multiple comments seeking changes and / or variations in the project have rendered application to Cambridge so extensive that the City Council should properly schedule a hearing on the proposal with cable television coverage so that the Cambridge electorate can be properly advised as to the situation.  The Cambridge City Council has not done so and has rubber stamped the CDD “community” representative with a destructive record.

The issues are as follows;

a. Properly planned, the project can reduce traffic on Memorial Drive.
b. Properly planned, the project can reduce the existing overloading on the Red Line.
c. West Station should be trashed along with the publicly defeated Commuter Rail in Cambridge concept, and a sensible streetcar spur should be constructed from the BU Bridge / Commonwealth Avenue to the main project site, to Harvard Square..
d. Two of the three “throat” options are destructive to the Charles River or to Cambridge.

2. Properly planned, the project can reduce traffic on Memorial Drive and elsewhere.

We suggested a very major change in the plans for the I90 rebuild project which can have significant benefit to Cambridge.  The problem is that while MassDOT made the change part of the plan, MassDOT, with help from Cambridge appointees (according to MassDOT), went further than MassDOT should have gone.

The original scope of the project omitted discussion of the River Street Bridge and its connection to Soldiers Field Road.

We advised at the study committee that the project could be greatly improved by killing the current left turn from the ramp to the River Street Bridge and building a bridge to the future Harvard Medical School area over Soldiers Field Road prior to the River Street Bridge.

Six months or so after we proposed it, MassDOT formally announced a plan to do pretty much exactly that, and they have gone in detail over the merits of this change to the Boston side of the river. 

[Title to plan:]

Principle Proposal for River Street Bridge.

The off ramp in this location with its right and left turns at the bridge would be removed.  Killing the left turn makes sense.  Keeping the right turn would be of great value to Cambridge.

* * *

The problem with the plan is that they went a lot further than our proposal.  Their change would fully eliminate the ramp from Soldiers Field Road to the River Street Bridge, thus removing ready access to Cambridge by the right turn off that ramp.  The proposal would move Cambridge traffic across Soldiers Field Road into Interstate traffic coming off the Mass. Pike (I-90).  The proposal would run Cambridge traffic through three additional intersections.

This photo is taken from DEIR, chapter 9, page 1.  The bridge is the River Street Bridge.  The ramp which is proposed to be destroyed is immediately to the left of the bridge above the Charles River.  The issue is the right turn from the ramp to the bridge.  Traffic which is currently going up the ramp and turning right would be moved to a series of roads and intersections going around the hotel property (large building) and joining the massive Interstate traffic coming off I90.

Currently a lot of Cambridge people use that ramp.  More almost certainly would except for all the traffic turning left and going to I90 and to Boston destinations.  People going to Cambridge have alternate ways to get to Cambridge.  The most obvious is Memorial Drive, but a lot of traffic very easily could be using Massachusetts Avenue and other streets in the eastern part of Cambridge.

Killing traffic turning left off that off ramp will remove what has been a major impediment to Cambridge residents using that ramp, and, to that extent would relieve other routes currently being used of drivers who would rather use that off ramp.  The left turn traffic has really jammed up that off ramp.

Returning plans to our original proposal, kill left turn only, will allow people who would have used that ramp to use it now.  The people who would use this route live in many parts of Cambridge, and have been forced onto Memorial Drive and other alternate routes.  Most people who use or would use this route have been greatly disadvantaged because, IN RESPONSE TO CAMBRIDGE DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT DIRECTION, MassDOT has limited public presentation to people who live near the Charles River between the BU and River Street Bridges.  Such people have very limited use of the River Street Bridge.  The greatest use by folks in this area would be by those living near River Street, and perhaps those closer to Central Square.  One such person spoke at the Morse School presentation, and many other would certainly attend presentations if the presentations, contrary to CDD direction, were made in a manner convenient for them.

MassDOT should be talking with the Cambridge City Council on Cambridge Television in order to contact the people throughout Cambridge who use or would use that ramp.  Instead, it is trusting the CDD and limiting its contact to this very destructive entity whose strings look like they are pulled by the CDD or worse. 

The last time we communicated the lack of meaningfulness of this fake “neighborhood” association, they were openly censoring any comments contrary to CDD / friends’ political interests.  Now they are just expelling folks from the list for OFFERING to make comments contrary to CDD / friends political interests.

The running mantra of this group and too often by other, related Fake Protectors is:

Do not look at what we and our friends are destroying.  Look at what we tell you to look at.

The achieved destruction and planned destruction by these Fake Protectors are massive.

A small number of willful people who know what they want are capable of controlling a large number of people with good intentions, and the cores of this group, in particular, have severe credibility problems.

The same old corrupt tactics, when used by related fake protective entities, assisted in the destruction of 3.4+ acres of Alewife, created the outrage on both sides of Bay Street on Massachusetts Avenue, and killed protections for residential side streets in Harvard Square through the lie, “You have made your deal with the City Council.  Now you have to negotiate with the Planning Board.”

More recent nonsense of the CDD appointees was well demonstrated by the outrageous communication from Henrietta Davis to MassDOT.  According to MassDOT’s most visible representative, Davis voted to destroy that right turn ramp in the Working Group. 

The memory of the most visible member of the team was so strong that he turned our comments at a MassDOT presentation in Allston into a one on one discussion on the issue of Henrietta Davis’ position.  As stated elsewhere, our opinion of Davis’ record and her representation of Cambridge residents is not favorable.

Davis put out a letter giving a false impression of her position on the right turn, according to the MassDOT representative’s statement of her position.  She included fine print fighting for more destruction FAR FROM THE LOCATION OF THE SUPPOSED TOPIC OF HER LETTER, but that fine print was buried with the up front distraction of appearing to be protecting the right turn. 

The Cambridge City Council and City Manager were apparently given related communications of support for Davis’ letter which ran in lock step with the Davis letter and WHICH OMITTED THE DESTRUCTIVE FINE PRINT.  The Council, Manager and probably Davis communications were obviously written by the Cambridge Development Department.  This fits a distressingly long time pattern of misbehavior by the Cambridge Development Department.  The CDD gave the City Council and City Manager a false impression of what the City Council and City Manager were supporting, but had the two bless the Davis letter’s fine print without mentioning the fine print.

The Davis communication concerning the DEIR is more moderate than the earlier letter addressed to MassDOT.  It omits the most blatantly destructive comments to MassDOT, and blessed by City Manager and City Council, possibly without reading the fine print.

BUT the current position really does not differ that much.  It is just more indirect.