More than 300 residents sign petition urging state to revise plan to rebuild Cambridge Street overpass

More than 300 residents sign petition urging state to revise plan to rebuild Cambridge Street overpass in Allston - Allston Brighton - Your Town -
"Sixteen organization and 332 residents have signed a petition calling for state transportation department officials to make a series of changes to its plan to rebuild the Cambridge Street overpass in Allston.The letter says the state should install crosswalks and pedestrian signals to make the street safer to cross on foot, and it says the state should cancel its plan to install a fence on the median of Cambridge Street."

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Drawings from Nov 19 Meeting

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Concerns with the MassDOT proposal

  1. Physical barrier between bikes & cars would be safer than MassDOT's proposed 3' painted buffer
  2. No bike lane between Harvard Ave & Linden St when travelling towards the river
  3. The proposed 6' tall fence on a 6' wide median from Highgate St to Lincoln St is an unwanted barrier between North Allston and Allston Village
  4. Left turn onto Highgate St would be eliminated by the extended median
  5. Shared-use sidewalk between the Franklin St footbridge ramp & Harvard Ave will be crowded & complicated for people biking & walking in both directions

MassDOT Presentation from November 19 meeting

Download this PDF

Thanks for coming to last night's meeting!

It was amazing to see 150+ people from so many different parts of our community at the Jackson Mann last night to show how much we care about this project!

Boston Globe coverage - Allston fights for overpass change
"It is a near-constant spectacle on Allston’s Cambridge Street overpass, one that residents joke is akin to “Frogger,” the video game with lime green amphibians that dodge speeding cars while crossing the street. 
Very few pedestrians make the trek to designated crosswalks at either end of the overpass. For people traveling between North Allston and Allston Village, reaching a crosswalk requires a one-third mile diversion in either direction. Most prefer to take the direct route and jaywalk — or jayrun ."

Governor announces $260M project to straighten Mass. Pike in Allston

Conceptual designs of project to straighten Mass. Pike in Allston -
The state this week announced several major transportation projects, including plans to straighten part of the Massachusetts Turnpike that cuts through Allston and reconfigure exit and entrance ramps as well as some local roads.
The estimated $260-million, multi-phase project is scheduled to start in fall 2016 and be completed by 2020, according to the state transportation department.
The state said it is currently considering at least two options, or “conceptual alignments,” to straighten out I-90 and reconfigure ramps around the Allston-Brighton toll area

Mike Ross comment letter

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mike Ross <>
Date: Thu, Jul 4, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Subject: Comment on Project #606376 - Cambridge St. Overpass of I-90
To Whom It May Concern:

I want to thank MassDOT for their reconstruction of this important bridge, but I would also like to express a few concerns about the project as it is currently planned. Cambridge Street has the potential to be a gateway for Allston-Brighton and to bridge the a community divided by the Massachusetts Turnpike. While campaigning in the neighborhood, I've heard from local families and activists that they don't feel the current overpass design suits the neighborhood. In particular, local residents have expressed the desire for:
  • The need for a pedestrian crossing at Linden St. for safety and traffic control; 
  • Improvements to the aesthetic aspects of the project;
  • Improvements to the proposed bike facilities, including a longer separated bike lane; and
  • Measures to ensure pedestrian safety during construction. 
Allston-Brighton is a vibrant neighborhood of engaged residents. It's also home to one of the most active biking communities in Boston. This overpass should be something all residents can use and be proud of. I hope MassDOT engages with the community to listen to their concerns and incorporate their ideas whenever possible.

Feel free to contact my campaign should you have questions or need further information. 

Mike Ross

MassDOT's Project Development and Design Guide - good stuff!

A comment at UHub mentioned MassDOT's award winning Project Development and Design Guide which "serves as a national model for developing context-sensitive, community-friendly road and bridge projects."

I have never seen this document before, and its pretty good! Here are a some excerpts:
"Transportation and quality of life in our Commonwealth communities are inextricably linked. This connection is largely influenced by the role that highways, streets, and sidewalks play in our lives. Excellent transportation is critical to a healthy and vibrant Commonwealth.
MassHighway, in its role as steward for our roadways, must consider a broad range of factors in maintaining and improving this system, including
  • Safety for all users
  • Functionality – the need for access and mobility
  • Accessibility for people with disabilities – as a prerequisite to access to employment, recreation, and healthcare
  • Mutual support and compatibility between transportation facilities and services and the adjacent land uses and associated activities they serve 
  • Input and participation from local constituents, and the appropriate local, regional and state reviewing agencies
By bringing together transportation professionals, local residents, and interest groups, transportation planning can produce public facilities and programs that support community goals, provide safe and efficient transportation for individuals and goods, enhance the economy, and protect the natural environment.
This Guidebook has been developed to ensure that projects intended to improve the roadway network in the Commonwealth are implemented in such a way that the character of the project area, the values of the community, and the needs of all roadway users are fully considered."

Community Comment Letter (125+ signatures)

Community Cambridge Street Comment Letter

WalkBoston Comment Letter

WalkBoston Cambridge Street Comment Letter

A-B Bikes Comment Letter

A-B Bikes Cambridge Street Comment Letter

Boston Cyclists Union Comment Letter

Boston Cyclists Union Cambridge Street Comment Letter

LivableStreets comment letter

LivableStreets comment on Cambridge Street overpass

More than 125 sign letter urging state to revise plan to rebuild Cambridge Street bridge in Allston -

"More than 125 residents, businesses, and organizations have signed a letter urging the state’s transportation department to revise a plan to completely rebuild the busy Cambridge Street bridge in Allston.
The letter asks the state to: add at least one more spot where pedestrians can safely cross the bridge and remove a fence proposed to run down the median of the bridge; make aesthetic upgrades to the plan, including planting more vegetation; and improve safety for cyclists by expanding proposed bike lanes and installing vertical barriers between bike and traffic lanes."

Comment letter by Harry Mattison

Harry Mattison Cambridge Street Overpass - comment letter

Please send an email before July 3!

The Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation will soon rebuild the Cambridge St overpass between Harvard Ave and Lincoln Street and repair the Franklin St pedestrian bridge. This $10 million, 2 year construction project can be improved in several ways:
  1. Our neighborhood deserves to look good, with street trees, attractive fencing and proper lighting
  2. We need safe ways to cross Cambridge Street at Linden Street and the top of the Mansfield St stairs, not just at Lincoln Street and Harvard Ave
  3. Bike lanes need to be separated from the auto lanes with curbs, cones, or planters so they are safe for cyclists of all ages and abilities.
  4. All pedestrian routes during and after construction must be safe for seniors, children, and the disabled. Project #606376

Group letter to MassDOT

We encourage all folks interested to submit their own letter (by July 3rd!), but you may also sign onto a group public comment letter (link). A web sign-up form is now available at to put your name down, and it will be submitted along with the letter by the deadline.

In Missouri, they got $4.5M to beautify highway overpasses

I-70 Enhancement Project:

MoDOT's goal is to design and construct visual enhancements to the Interstate 70 highway from Goodfellow Boulevard to St. Louis Avenue. Senator Jean Carnahan and Representative Clay secured $4.5 million dollars in federal transportation funds, with the assistance of Mayor Slay's office. 

MoDOT has held a series of neighborhood workshops in early 2002 that allowed residents to express their concerns on the existing conditions and recent construction of the corridor. I-70 is the front door to the city of St. Louis and what enhancements are made are very important to the people living, driving and working nearby. 

Numerous issues were expressed regarding the lack of landscape, the chain link fencing, the concrete slope embankments and general appearance of the recent construction. Residents wanted the corridor to reflect the spirit of the people and architectural character of their neighborhoods.

Thoughts from Storrow Drive

Current and planned pedestrian overpasses over Storrow Drive have railings look are much less like a jail than the "anti-missile" fence currently on Cambridge StreetAlso, it is nice that the State cares enough about making a nice looking Storrow Drive to plant these flowers. It would be nice to see similar beautification efforts as part of the new Cambridge Street overpass.

Why does the westbound bike lane end?

In the proposed design, cyclists heading west on Cambridge Street (towards Harvard Ave) would see their bike lane end and merge into a "shared use path" for pedestrians and cyclists.

It isn't clear why this is a good idea.

Many cyclists will continue straight on Cambridge Street or turn left onto Harvard Ave. Bringing them up onto a sidewalk (even if it is 13' wide and called a "shared use path") would seem to create a crowded mess.

This is particularly problematic because this stretch of sidewalk will have:
  • people walking east (up the slope of the overpass) 
  • people walking west towards Harvard Ave
  • bikes going east from Harvard Ave to the Franklin Street bridge
  • bikes going west (downhill)  because the bike lane ended
It is hard to imagine how all these activities can co-exist safely in a 13' wide zone. Perhaps a few feet of the grass strip next to the sidewalk (between the parking lot retaining wall and sidewalk) could be used for the new sidewalk which would make more space for bikes and fewer conflicts.

Need a complete eastbound bike lane

The proposed design has no bike lane between Harvard Ave and Linden Street for eastbound cyclists. This is shown by the red line in the drawing below. Then the bike lane would start after you pass Linden Street. 

A better design would have a continual and complete bike lane for eastbound cyclists.

How can construction impact be minimized?

A certain amount of disruption is inevitable for a project of this size on a road that carries more than 20,000 vehicles every day.

What could be done to minimize this disruption and give people more options for better travel?
  • Add some Hubway bike rental stations in the area? As the map shows, the nearest ones aren't that close.
  • Increase the frequency of the MBTA bus routes?
  • What are your ideas?

Beware the Linden Street Detour

There may be no way to avoid this inconvenience, but it is not going to be pretty.

For several months of construction, the north block of Linden Street will be reversed, so instead of going north to Cambridge Street, it will go south to Pratt Street.

This means that if you are going north on Linden from Comm Ave or wanting to turn onto Linden from Brighton Ave, you will not be able to travel on Linden to Cambridge Street. Instead, you will have to use Harvard Ave, following the black line shown above.

This portion of Harvard Ave is already very congested during rush hour, and this added traffic will only make it worse.

When the Franklin St Overpass is closed

One phase of this project will involve closing the Franklin Street bike/ped overpass for repairs. During this time, what alternate routes are available?

You could take the long route shown in yellow. MassDOT recommends the blue route using the stairs and ramp at the end of Mansfield Street.

Unfortunately these stairs and railing are in bad shape, the ramp is too steep for a wheelchair, and the whole thing is impassable in the snow. Some repairs and improvements seem necessary for this to be an adequate route while the Franklin Street Overpass is closed.

Need Safe Crossings During Construction

During several months of construction the north sidewalk of the overpass will be closed. MassDOT suggests that we use the path in green during this time.

Not only is that a much longer walk, it is also not a safe walk, especially in the area circled in yellow. There is no curb cut and no crosswalk and even though it isn't raining today there is a huge puddle. No problem if you are a fit 25 year old, but not everyone can get around that easily.

Its a Bridge, not a Jail

Walking over the Cambridge Street Bridge is far from a beautiful experience today.

But that doesn't mean that the new bridge needs to look as sad as today's bridge does.
In Redding, California this bridge over Highway 44 incorporates a mountain scene.

.Here's one in Missouri that looks pretty good
And here are a couple more:

State plans 2-year, $10m project to rebuild Cambridge Street bridge over I-90 in Allston

The state is planning a two-year, $10-million project to completely rebuild a bridge that carries Cambridge Street over the Massachusetts Turnpike and commuter rail tracks in Allston

For an estimated 18 months of the construction period, Cambridge Street will have just one eastbound traffic lane and two westbound travel lanes open between the project limits

For a six-month phase of construction, Linden Street between Cambridge Street and Pratt Street will become a one-way southbound, reversing its current configuration as a one-way street northbound. During that period, northbound traffic on Linden Street will be rerouted to Harvard Avenue.

The project will also include foundation repairs and patching of the Franklin Street pedestrian bridge that runs from Cambridge Street, over the turnpike, and connects to Lincoln Street. The pedestrian bridge will be closed for about six weeks while areas of the deck are repaired. Pedestrians will be directed to the stairs and ramps and the east end of Cambridge Street

MassDOT Presentation at June 17 meeting

June 17 Meeting Presentation for the Cambridge Street Overpass

MassDOT's proposed design