Talking Points for Pro-Bridge Comments

Click here to download the PDF of Talking Points for Pro-Bridge Comments.

Challenge the Measures of Effectiveness

1. This is the first time the MOEs are being critically reviewed at a public meeting.  We need time to review. One slide, #69 of 73 slides, was shown on the screen at Sept. public meeting.  The public needs time to review.
2. Pedestrian and bicycle level of service are very important measures.  When will they be evaluated (they are blank in the MOE)?
3. Objective 1.04b Improve roadway and intersection operations for vehicles.  The measure is “Simplify network-number of turns between specific destinations” but the actual Measure modifies this intent to give credit to the surface scheme by adding the words “with alternative route provided...” These words contradict the stated goal of simplifying the network. The at-grade alternative is horribly indirect for left turns in the east/west direction and should be ranked “-1.”This is wrong and needs to be corrected.
4. Objective 2.02b Improve bicycle and pedestrian access and overall connectivity. The measure is “Number of lanes crossed north/south movement’ and the “Assumptions” add “lanes crossed between pedestrian refuge areas”.  Bicycles cannot take advantage of a pedestrian refuge.  This measure should omit the “between pedestrian refuge areas” and just measure the number of lanes crossed.  Also, the at-grade alternative is 3-4 lanes, not 3 lanes, and the bridge alternative is 1-2 lanes. The at-grade alternative requires crossing more lanes and should be ranked “-1.”  This score is wrong and needs to be corrected.
5. Objective 2.02c Improve bicycle and pedestrian access and overall circulation. The evaluation is wrong.  The at-grade solution degrades sidewalk width on New Washington Street (from 15’6” to 8’) and north of Ukraine Way where pedestrians will have 6’ next to a narrow two-way bike path. The at-grade alternative should be ranked “0.”  This score is wrong and needs to be corrected.
6. Objective 3.01 Support access to future development. The measure does not adequately measure the objective (strengthen neighborhood sightlines), but if you look at the goal of “removing barriers for neighborhood connections,” the evaluation is wrong because it does not acknowledge the barrier 6-7 lanes of traffic creates. The at-grade alternative should be ranked “0.”  This score is wrong and needs to be corrected.
7. Objective 3.02 Promote modal connections that reduce use of personal vehicles. The measure does not relate to the objective and should be eliminated.  This measure makes an unsupportable connection between square feet of bus waiting area and transit ridership.
8. Objective 5.01a Increase space for community gatherings or activities. The calculation of percentage increase is wrong.  Shown here are percentages of the total usable space, not the percentage increase.  Bridge alternative results in a 53% increase and the at-grade results in a more modest 30% increase The at-grade alternative should be dropped from 1 to 0.  This score is wrong and needs to be corrected.
9. Objective 5.01d Increase space for community gatherings or activities. The measure for this objective-- off-peak speeds -- includes the speeds of cars on top of the bridge.  This should only be comparing speeds at grade level where people would actually gather and should be modified. The bridge and at-grade alternatives should be ranked the same “1.”  This score is wrong and needs to be corrected.
10. Objective 5.02a Enhance the value of commercial and residential buildings through improved visual of aesthetic changes. The measure does not appropriately measure the objective (enhance the value of commercial and residential buildings). This is so speculative, highly subjective, and unsupportable that it should be eliminated.
11. Objective 6.02a Evaluation of Emerald Necklace Connections.  The measure for this objective does not include what will be measured—they are in the Assumptions/Comments.  Separated modes of travel and regularly spaced rows of trees separating the modes. The conceptual plans for both alternatives accomplish separated modes and rows of trees, but the at-grade scheme suffers from breaks for the bowties and signals.  The at-grade alternative should be ranked “0” and the bridge “1.”  This score is wrong and needs to be corrected.
12. Objective 6.02b Evaluation of Emerald Necklace Connections.  The measure for this objective (create a central focus point that identifies the area and provides guidance to local destinations) has nothing to do with the Emerald Necklace. The measure in the text does not match the actual scoring which talks about creating large contiguous areas. This makes no sense and needs to re-thought.  If the issue is creating a central focal point, the bridge does this and should be ranked higher.  Bridge or no bridge, the stores on Hyde Park Avenue aren’t visible from New Washington Street because of the grade. This MOE is useless and should be corrected.

Challenge the assumption that bridges are ugly barriers

Aesthetics in bridge design have come along way.  If the directive was to design a beautiful bridge that fit into the neighborhood, we would have seen examples of beautiful bridges. 

Challenge the fact the Washington Street improvements are included in only the at-grade solution

The improvements proposed for Washington Street and the upper MBTA busway have merit and should be included in both solutions or neither. Including these goodies in only the at-grade solution skews the MOEs and overstates the at-grade solution benefits.  The busway and bike path improvements on Washington Street are not relevant in a comparison of bridge or no bridge. They should be either included for both alternatives or omitted from the surface solution to make a fair comparison.

Challenge the use of cost as reason not to study options

Cost is important, but in an alternatives study one must not presuppose that an option or suggestion is “too expensive” and therefore will not be examined. If in the Southwest Corridor Project the planners had refused to look at the benefits of putting the Orange Line in the cut we would never have examined that option and understood the huge benefits.  MassDOT refused to study shifting the bridge alignment south to free up more land on the basis it’s too expensive and the refusal to include the Washington Street and the upper MBTA busway improvements because of cost. This is shortchanging the community and is wrong. Ask that these two options be examined regardless of the presumed cost.

Challenge the various statements about funding

The amount of money available is important to press on because MassDOT refuses to include the improvements to Upper-Washington Street and the upper MBTA busway in the bridge scheme even though they would help traffic.  The first statement about the project budget said a bridge “like the Casey” would be about $70 million but that the budget was not the critical issue, the schedule was.  Now they say they cannot do a bridge and Washington Street and the upper MBTA busway because it’s too costly.  Without those improvements included in the bridge scheme, the at-grade ranks higher on MOE.  They have the money or can get it if they want to.

Challenge the traffic analysis

It is counter-intuitive to think that MassDOT cannot make surface traffic work better under the bridge scheme than with the surface scheme with 24,000 fewer vehicles per day in the mix. The fact that traffic isn’t far and away better with a new bridge is odd.  For example, why are there fewer lanes on New Washington Street in the bridge scheme than there are today? Has MassDOT has worked hard enough perfecting the surface traffic for the bridge scheme?

Challenge the graphics

Conceptual graphics available online from Nov. 9 WAG meeting have discrepancies between the at-grade and bridge alternatives. Despite being told that Shea Circle would be reconfigured under either alternative, it is shown as a modified rotary in the bridge alternative and reconfigured in the at-grade scheme.  On the same plans, the scale of the enlarged areas is different, distorting the bridge alternative.  And the computer renderings are not based on reality—the scale and perspective are off.  The renderings should be re-done by a professional renderer.  As they are now they are horribly misleading and are being forwarded and used by groups in their materials.

Challenge the rush to make a decision

This is MassDOT’s schedule and process.  We had no say in making the schedule and we should not be forced to rush to conclude this study when we still need more information. The community should not be rushed during the holidays to wrap this up.  MassDOT waited months to start the study; this can wait a few months more to complete the analysis without jeopardizing funding

Prepared by Jeffrey Ferris,, 617-524-BIKE (2453)
Jeffrey represents The Southwest Corridor’s PMAC and South Street business on the WAG.
(Mr. Ferris is no longer on the Design Advisory Group.)