Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Charles River: Tree “Protections” / Destruction, I90 Destructiveness

Charles River:  Tree “Protections” / Destruction, I90 Destructiveness

This report is essentially identical to a letter which has been delivered to the Cambridge City Manager and the Cambridge City Clerk for the Cambridge City Manager at its next meeting.  There are modifications to comport it to this medium.

The biggest oddity is the inclusions of photocopies of entire pages in our letter of June 6, 2017 to the Cambridge City Council.  Double clicking will greatly increase these pages in size.  These photocopies are taken from the file on the June 6, 2017 letter on the Charles River White Geese webpage at, pages 28, 29, 30, 34 and 35.  Please look there for better reproduction if necessary.   In the City Council hard copy, these photocopies occupy nearly full pages.  That reproduction works quite well.

1. Follow Up, Charles River and Grand Junction Destructiveness.
2. Our Analysis.
3. “Lying” photos and plans.
4. Destruction after the City Council gave its blank check.
5. Summary.

1. Follow Up, Charles River and Grand Junction Destructiveness.

Phil Barber has been kind enough to follow up on my communications at the last Cambridge City Council meeting with more concerning the Cambridge City Council’s outrages on the Charles River and the clear MIT environmental destruction on the former NECCO Spur.  It was two separate emails, including two educational photographs.  I am merging his communications.

The crossings comment refers to the map and analysis I provided of public streets the Cambridge City Council wants to really mess up with passenger trains crossing them.  Here is a copy of that graphic.

                                    Grand Junction (MassDOT plan) with CAMBRIDGE
                           CITY COUNCIL’s supported passenger  train interference with traffic.

The former NECCO Spur was about half the distance from the Charles River and the first arrow on the Grand Junction from the Charles River.  It ran on the upper side and went toward Massachusetts Avenue, which is the first arrow.

Over the last century, such rail / highway crossings have been constantly  separated from highways in communities with responsible leaders.

As is not at all unusual, enlightened behavior in the real world is strikingly opposed to practices in  the City of Cambridge, MA, USA, where enlightened words combined with reactionary realities are too often the norm, as with the SECRETIVE desires of the Cambridge City Council for the Grand Junction and for the public streets of Cambridge.

Here are Phil’s comments with limited edits to fit this medium without changing his meaning.

* * * * *

Good to see you were able to sort out the salient points from the mass of chaff in the I-90 reports etc. I noticed the other day that the bridge that carries Mem Drive over the Grand Junction has a jerry-built (temporary?) repair just like those made to the overpass, a lattice work of heavy steel columns and supports propping up the roadbed. I hadn't noticed this before but then I haven’t been over to the goose meadow in some time.

Support under Memorial Drive Bridge over Grand Junction
Courtesy Phil Barber, 2/4/19
 It also occurs to me that the width of the underpass would determine whether the right of way could be used for both rail and vehicle traffic. Originally the bridge and the right of way accommodated two tracks. It would be an impossibly tight fit to get two lanes of traffic plus the rail through this pinch point. I suppose they could pitch the whole thing as an “improvement” to the Mem Drive bridge which does seem to need replacing. The overpass continues to deteriorate too in spite of the repairs a few years ago. More brickwork falls off it every day, it seems. There’s even a netting under it where the rotary passes underneath to catch falling debris!

Your point about the grade crossings is well taken. You can gauge when rail traffic is coming from the sound of the engine’s horn as it successively crosses Cambridge St., Main St. and Mass. Ave., and the crossing at Ft. Washington. I notice that 5 PM, the height of the rush hour, is usually when Conrail shunts a few cars north on the line. Yesterday I saw an old GP24 pulling a couple of MBTA cars and one of the brand new passenger locomotives to the repair shop. It crossed the bridge with a great squealing of bearings and chugging. Two thousand horses under the hood, quite impressive. Daily commuter trains on the line would require full grade crossings and many delays. And they wouldn't be able to move through such an obstructed corridor at speed either.

* * * *

Here are  the cottonwoods in 1994.  These are the beautiful specimens on the closed NECCO spur  which were recently destroyed by MIT.  I suspect the ones at Magazine Beach seeded from them.  They produce millions of wind born seeds that blow everywhere.

* * * * *

2. My analysis.

A pivotal point in the discussion of the 2003 MBTA plan to created an I90 off ramp to Cambridge was the extent to which the Memorial Drive underpass would be widened.

The MBTA wanted 2 lanes plus a railroad bed.  Cambridge “planners” wanted a 4th right of way, obviously thinking of MIT's private exit / Inner Belt.

The Waverly Connector plans had extensive tree planting WITH OPENINGS exactly matching places to connect this new Inner Belt to Mem Drive.

3. “Lying” photos and plans.

Following are a few samples from our June 6, 2017 presentation of trees at Magazine Beach the Cambridge City Council wants to destroy, along with DCR filed plans.

As near as I can gather, the City Council’s presiding officer seems to consider the DCR’s PUBLICLY FILED PLANS to be lies on the part of the DCR (or us?).  All the time, of course, WHILE PLAYING A CON GAME ON THE VOTERS.

As demonstrated in the photos below, these PUBLICLY FILED plans INCLUDE flat out lies FROM THE DCR.

It is very difficult for the City Council’s presiding office to blame these lies on us.  BUT HE PUBLICLY HAS CALLED US LIARS.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation plays skillfully fraudulent word games.  The DCR uses terms familiar to the public in specialized meanings.  The DCR does not disclose the specialized meanings.  That rather clearly is fraud on the public. 

The “three trees” shown in the first plans for destruction repeated below, are in reality are ten trees, as shown in our photographs of them, but then the Presiding Officer calls us liars, so we must be lying that the DCR’s “three trees” are TEN.

We should think that, in a responsible city government, the DCR would be called the liars.  But this is not a responsible city government.  This is the City of Cambridge.

Double clicking should greatly increase the apparent size of these photoed pages.  These photos and the below photos may be directly viewed on the Charles River White Geese webpage at,

This is, of course, the magnificent grove which dominates the western end of the playing fields.

Two dead trees to the right (west) were destroyed during the past few months.

This is the most visible part of the excellent park across from Magazine Street.  Note that the DCR and the Cambridge City Council wants to destroy all but one of these trees at the same time as destroying the environmentally responsible parking lot heavily used by people not attractive to the top 1%. 4. Destruction after the City Council gave its blank check.

4. Destruction after the City Council gave its blank check.

After the City Council gave the DCR their blank check in Order 1 of April 24, 2017, and after our June 6, 2017 letter, the DCR, on behalf of the Cambridge City Council’s blank check, destroyed two street trees next to the MicroCenter Parking lot WHICH WERE NOT EVEN ON THE DESTRUCTION PLANS.

These formerly maturing trees were beloved by the owner of the MicroCenter parking lot.  NOTE THE MULCH AROUND THE TREE STUBS.  Decent human beings have a strikingly different attitude toward trees than that of the DCR and the Cambridge City Council, although the Cambridge City Council does love flim flam.

These are, of course, only excerpts.  There are a lot more VERY TERRIBLE THINGS THE CAMBRIDGE CITY COUNCIL IS DOING.  The full report took 51 pages.  The report, TWICE PRESENTED TO THE CAMBRIDGE CITY COUNCIL minus this last photo, may be viewed at

As I recall, the Cambridge City Council’s presiding officer calls this “lying.”

5. Summary.

The City Council should be:

(1) Reversing and rescinding its vote in Order 1 of April 24, 2017 supporting and seeking funds for this outrage and reversing and rescinding all related praise of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation;

(2) Through the legislature, replacing the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation in all of its responsibilities in Cambridge with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation; and

(3) Repairing, insofar as possible, all damage inflicted on the Charles by the City of Cambridge, the DCR, its predecessor, and or / by agents / assistants of one or more, directly or indirectly, since November 1, 1999, and terminating all pending such destruction.

Continued failure to do all three would be in direct conflict with the self proclamations of environmental sainthood which are so common from members of the Cambridge City Council.