A copy of the 1265 Main Phase II Draft Environmental Impact Report (see previous post) has been delivered to the Waltham Public Library, but please check with the Library about how to access it. Also, I have a correction for the e-mail of the contact person, Robert W. Nagi at the consultants Vanasse Hangen Brustlin: firstname.lastname@example.org
A large document arrived on my doorstep last week: the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Phase II of the 1265 Main Street development. Several transportation-related features of the plan are of special interest to bicyclists and pedestrians: particularly:
- The connector road to the City Point development (off Totten Pond Road north of the project area) — see comments in a previous post;
- Several major street and bridge reconstructions;
- Connections of the Mass Central Rail Trail;
- Bicycle parking and shower facilities
- The effect of development on traffic on local streets.
My own opinions, as they stand at the moment:
- The provision of bicycle parking and showers is welcome.
- The connector road between 1265 and City Point is helpful, but as explained in the previous post, the connector road as proposed would take a relatively long route over a hill. A path connecting from Tower Road in the 1265 project to Third Avenue in the City Point development would offer a shorter route for bicyclists and pedestrians between many locations, and avoid the hill.
- More detail is needed about how the rail trail will approach and cross Route 117, Route 128 and the proposed Green Street connector.
- Direct access to Route 128 will relieve the congestion on Stow Street, but the question of bicycle and pedestrian connectivity by way of Stow Street remains unanswered. Access to the 1265 project and rail trail should be convenient, and should create a north-south through route along with the proposed connector road (and my suggestion for a path)..
- The proposed major bridge and street reconstructions are needed to handle the traffic which the project will generate, but the project will unavoidably increase congestion on Route 128. The widening of parts of Main Street including the bridge will make some bicycle trips more challenging. A proposed addition of bike lanes does not address the problem of turning and crossing traffic at intersections, and in particular where there are multiple turn lanes and on-and off-ramps. So, additional attention to transportation issues is needed, beyond the improvements proposed as mitigation in the project.
These comments are by John Allen.
The report was distributed on July 19, 2016. Comments are due by August 19. General information on submitting comments is online, as well as specific information on how to submit them for this project (select the Environmental Monitor issue of July 20, 2016).
Copies of the report may be requested in writing, by e-mail or phone to:
101 Walnut Street
P.O. Box 9151
Watertown, MA 02471
617 607 2731
The instructors have canceled the classes due to insufficient turnout. They plan to give a class in the spring.
The complete set of three Cycling Savvy sessions is to be offered in Waltham in September.
The Truth & Techniques of Traffic Cycling (3 hours):
7 PM -10 PM Friday, September 16, Arthur C. Clarke Government Center, 119 School Street, Waltham (map)
This is an offering of the Cycling Savvy program. This Friday evening session will be followed by optional daytime sessions on Saturday.
Through guided discussion with video and animation, this session familiarizes students with bicycle-specific laws, traffic dynamics and problem-solving strategies. Students discover that bicycle drivers are equal road users, with the right and ability to control their space.
This is a classroom session. There is no need to bring your bicycle, but there is a bike rack at the left end of the building and if you would like to bring your bicycle inside, it is easiest to enter through the handicap-access ramp at the back. There is car parking in front of the building.
Train Your Bike! (3 hours):
9 AM – noon Saturday, September 17, Hobbs Brook Office Park, 303 Wyman Street, Waltham (map)
This is an offering of the Cycling Savvy program. This riding session goes with the classroom session on Friday evening: you may sign up for one or both. There is also a Saturday afternoon riding session which you may take if you have taken both of the others.
This session consists of a set of progressive drills designed to increase students’ control and comfort handling their bikes in various situations. Drills include:
- Start/Stop, Power Pedal & Balance Stop
- Snail Race, Slow-speed Balance
- Drag-race, Gears & Acceleration
- Ride Straight, One-handed
- Shoulder Check
- Object-avoidance Handling, Weave, Snap
- Turning: Slow-speed Tight Turns, High-speed cornering, Emergency Snap-turn
- Emergency Braking
Lunch is available following this session at nearby Pizzi Farm
Tour of Your City (3.5 hours):
1 – 4:30 PM Saturday, September 17, Hobbs Brook Office Park, 303 Wyman Street, Waltham (map)
This Saturday afternoon riding session goes with the Friday evening classroom session and the Saturday morning parking-lot session. The Tour session is only available with the full course. The other two sessions may be taken á la carte, in any order.
This session is an experiential tour of your city’s roads. The course includes some of the most intimidating road features (intersections, interchanges, merges, etc.) a cyclist might find in his/her travels. The students travel as a group, stopping to survey and discuss each exercise location. After observing the feature, discussing the traffic dynamics and the best strategy for safe and easy passage, the students ride through individually and regroup at a nearby location.
The Waltham Bicycle Advisory Committee has submitted comments on the Transportation Master Plan. Brew a cup of coffee and sit down — 18 pages and a map!
The main topic at today’s Traffic Commission meeting was a road connection between the 1265 Main project and City Point office park. Rob Nagi from the firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, which is consulting for the 1265 Main developers, gave a presentation showing a road connecting to 5th Avenue in the City Point office park, which presently has access only from Totten Pond Road. (The map did not extend as far as the connection to 1265 Main). The new road would have a sidewalk on one side and be gated during peak hours, though still open to bicyclists and pedestrians. Connecting sidewalks would be built in the City Point office park.The developers would pay for the project.
Rep. Thomas Stanley, among others, spoke in favor of the project, citing traffic issues
On behalf of the Bicycle Committee, I spoke in favor of the project but asked that a path connecting to 3rd Avenue also be built, because this would make a much shorter route for bicyclists and pedestrians, and avoid a long climb in both directions. Other cyclists including Leo Keightly, Martha Creedon and Laurel Carpenter attended the meeting, but did not speak.
Several business owners and employees at City Point expressed approval of the project. A major concern was the difficulty of exiting to Totten Pond Road in rush hour.
Several other commenters including Ward 2 councilor Fowler, and citizens impacted by traffic congestion, expressed conditional approval, asking that the project be delayed until it could be examined in the light of an overall plan including new connections to Route 95/128, and expressing concern that it would increase traffic, notably on Wyman Street, Smith street, Lake Street and Totten Pond Road.
City Traffic Engineer Michael Garvin spoke in favor of the project, indicating that it will help to alleviate traffic, and he spoke in favor of the timed gate closing, which would be removed when additional infrastructure is built.
City Planner Catherine Cagle asked to look at signage because she wanted to be sure that it would clearly indicate when the gate is open. Mr Nagi indicated that the signs would be electronic. Ms. Cagle also wants a sidewalk on both sides of the new road, and presented this as a friendly amendment to a proposal to approve the project. She
[My own opinion of this is that sidewalks on both sides make sense in the developments, but on the connecting road, one sidewalk would probably be adequate.]
Mr. Nagi indicated that the problem with having two sidewalks is of available space and easements, rather than money.
Police Department Chief MacPherson and Fire Deparment Chief Ciccone made strong statements in favor of the project in the interest of public safety, as the City Point office park presently has only one entrance. This is a problem which goes back 35 years to the construction of the project.
The Traffic Commission voted unanimously in favor of a motion to approve the project, though I don’t have a copy of it, so I’m not sure of its precise wording. I also don’t know whether or when the plans will be available online, but we’ll pass along that information as soon as we can. The meeting will be broadcast on Waltham Community Television’s Mac Channel — John Allen
Streaming video of Waltham Traffic Commission meetings is online, now including the May 19, 2016 meeting (no longer tied to an on-air date) and as far back as the September 2015 meeting. Here’s a direct link to the May 19 meeting.
There are many URLs for earlier meetings, so instead surf to http://wcac.org, and in the On Demand Streaming window on the page click on Playlists, scroll down to Traffic Commission and click on it. A list of Traffic Commission meetings will appear. Scroll down if needed to find the meeting you want to view, and click on it. It will appear in the pane to the left of the list. By clicking on the double arrow icon below the lower right corner of the image, you may expand it to fill the screen.
To view the May 19 Transportation Master Plan meeting, just click here.
The Waltham Traffic Commission met at 10 AM on May 19. A condensed version of the Traffic Master Plan presentation of May 17 was given. There was a long discussion leading to approval of restriping of Lexington Street. Waltham resident Leo Keightley presented a petition for a path alongside Lexington Street. I (John Allen) commented that this would have safety problems with intersections and driveways. The Commission approved a plan submitted by the Traffic Engineer for a road diet and bike lanes on Lexington Street. The agenda of the meeting is online on the Traffic Commission Web page. As of this writing, the Minutes have not yet been posted.