On Thursday night, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) held their fourth public meeting at City Hall on the Central Artery Ramp Parcel Study. The presentation showed the concepts that emerged from the previous work study meeting. Incorporating the desired uses for these parcels as a pedestrian walkways, the consulting partners showed the possible configurations that might be developed at these locations.
Roch Larochelle, the project manager from HDR Engineering Inc. explained that while “cover” has never been defined for these ramps, the existing Greenway parcels clearly gave the participants a guidance for creating these concepts. It was understood that raising any kind of permanent building structure on these sites is “not desired and economically not feasible”. However, the landscaping, fencing or screening of the highway exits and the construction of walkways still posed several engineering challenges. The reduction of road crossings, the improved way finding and overall aesthetic visual improvements of these sites would certainly help with the submission of these plans to the State, under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).
During the meeting Mr. Larochelle and Matthew Littell, principal from Utile Inc., presented their recommendations.
For parcel 18, the recommendations were to “leave it alone”. The already established garden, that exists there is sufficient and would need only minor modifications. Probably some enhanced landscaping and additional fencing around the exit roads.
For Parcel 6, a proposed pedestrian walkway would allow a shorter and safer way to cross from Haymarket to North Washington Street. It would also generate additional green space for the area. The walkway would slope upwards from New Sudbury street until about half way, and slope downwards from a horizontal deck type place, towards the northern end of the parcel. It would reduce the distance required to cross the roads by about a 300 feet. The consultants imagine unique materials and patterns for the possible fencing along the path, that can further enhance the visual appeal both from the parcel and of the parcel itself from the surrounding streets.
Parcel 12 is perhaps the hardest nut to crack, from an engineering point of view. While the distance to travel from one end of the parcel to the other would be reduced and made safer by the walkway, it would need to be elevated at the midpoint to accommodate the existing highway signs on the exit ramps below. The location and size of these signs would have to be modified, in accordance with the requirements set by the State’s traffic engineering team. Only after these changes the slope of the walkway would stay within the legal limit of 8 percent. Any higher and a stairway would have to be constructed. However, the resulting viewing platform would offer some great views of the Custom House and the surrounding area both north and south.
The commenters in attendance were generally appreciative of these plans and commended the team on their efforts. Questions were raised regarding the care and maintenance for these reconfigured parcels and the utilities that will be available. John Romano, Legislative Liaison for MassDOT, explained that the existing long term lease agreement with the Greenway Conservancy would be extended for these parcels as well. He has also explained that utilities already exist on these parcels and adequate for lighting and supporting a small temporary hut type structures, no additional utilities will be planned.
The presentation and additional information can be found at the project’s website: http://tiny.cc/RampParcelStudy
The public is encouraged to actively participate and suggest further refinements for these concepts, during the 30 day public comment period. The deadline for comments is February 11th, 2015.
See the full presentation at: http://tiny.cc/RampParcelStudy