In real life there are no magic wands whose waving causes all problems to disappear, no magic pill that makes everything better. But sometimes there are Master Keys that open a series of blockages and create new routes forward. Even in transportation. One possible Master Key is finding ways to install new on/off ramps on the Mass Pike Extension from Allston to Mass Ave.
Right now, MassDOT planners are struggling with how to design the quarter-billion-dollar Mass Pike Re-alignment project at the Allston exit while maintaining (or expanding) the MBTA and Commuter Rail usage, with the final redesign of Cambridge Street from Harvard Ave to the Charles River, with the best way to fix the messed-up traffic on the Boston side of the BU bridge, with the appropriate design for Commonwealth Ave from the BU bridge to (and past) Packards Corner, and with what to do about the collapsing Fenway-to-Storrow Bowker Overpass (in addition to the path, initially proposed by the Solomon Foundation, from Beacon Street to the Mass Ave bridge)Read more
We’ve all seen the graph: a person hit by a car going 40 miles per hour (mph) has an 85% chance of being killed. Reducing the speed to 30 mph cuts the odds of death in half; reducing speed to 20 mph drops the fatality rate by an astounding 94%. Even more dramatically, at 5 mph cars (and very cautious trucks), bikes, and pedestrians can all safely share the same street space. According to the US Department of Transportation, about 33% of vehicle-related deaths are speeding-related. Of those, around 40% occur in urban areas.
Both Advocates and Public Agency leaders can find a number of lessons in the multi-level effort to deal with the McGrath Highway corridor in Somerville – which has resulted not only in a commitment from MassDOT to explore ways to eventually replace the crumbling neighborhood-dividing “Chinese Wall” with a less intimidating ground-level road, but a short-term plan to significantly improve transit, pedestrian, and bicycling facilities as part of short-term repairs to the McCarthy Overpass section.Read more
It is through our built environment that we shape ourselves and the world. Living, working, and moving around in dysfunctional, cramped, unsafe, polluted, or just ugly places not only affects our mood and health but also our relations with those around us and the natural environment. The need to maximize the positive impact of our buildings, transportation systems, and even our usually hidden infrastructures will continue to grow as the weather gets weirder, resources get more expensive, and cities get more crowded.Read more
Our roads feel more congested than ever. It takes forever to get down Mass Avenue across Boston or Cambridge. Memorial Drive, near where I live, is now backed up starting at about 4pm and continuing until nearly 7! Route 93 out of Boston is perpetually stop and go, every day, at nearly every hour. Sure, we all like to complain, but this is more than personal whining: according to a new study, “even after $24 billion in Big Dig construction, Boston’s legendary traffic woes are still making the top 10 nationally for rush-hour tie-ups. Boston is also leading the nation in year-to-year congestion level increases.” Globe columnist Derrick Jackson points out that, “The Boston metro area is the nation’s ninth largest, but experienced the third highest rise in traffic delays since 1982, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. With the announcements in recent months of several new office, residential, and hotel skyscrapers, and with outgoing Mayor Menino wanting 30,000 new housing units by 2020, things will get much worse…”
PREPARING FOR SNOW: WHEN SHOULD BIKE LANES GET PRIORITY?
Most municipalities and most state agencies have carefully negotiated lists of which streets get plowed clear of snow in what priority order. First priority usually goes to busy highways and arterials, hospitals and schools, fire stations and emergency services.Read more
THE FUTURE OF RAILROADS: Why Rail-To-Trail Conversion Is The Key To Both Eventual Rail Restoration and Current Off-Road Networks
The CapeFlyer Railroad service has been a huge success. Well over 10,000 people have bought tickets so far this summer, generating more than enough revenue to cover the relatively puny $165,000 annual cost of running the train. The high cost of gasoline, the desire to avoid multi-hour Cape-traffic traffic jams, the new bus service from RR stations to all 15 Cape Cod towns, the availability of rental cars and bicycles – all these have contributed to the high demand. And it also turns out to be fun!Read more
There are situations where the danger is so great, the potential damage so devastating, the outrage to decency so powerful that you feel that immediate, radical change becomes an emotional and moral imperative. And you do everything you can to advocate, to make the world take notice, to make people in power take action. Right now.
But, with few exceptions, change happens slowly. Creating change requires getting decision-makers to act, attracting the support of powerful interests, or mobilizing important enough segments of the media and/or the public – none of which usually happens quickly. And then implementing significant change requires transforming systems, which almost always have enormous inertial drag towards the status quo. And having an impact requires the changed processes and outcomes to replace current conditions, which can be incremental and uncertain.Read more
The revelation during the hunt for the Marathon Bombers of how totally we are all tracked by the rapidly expanding web of electronic systems, and Edward Snowden’s disclosure of how easily it is for government’s security agencies to tap into those data streams, should change the nature of the comparatively trivial debate about installing red-light violation cameras at dangerous intersections. But it has also revealed a generation fault line in people’s perceptions about the trade-offs involved.
INTERGRATING VISION INTO OPERATIONS: Balancing Front-Line Empowerment With Organizational Priorities at MassDOT
All too little attention and praise has been given to MassDOT’s recent announcements of state funding for the Neponset River Greenway, the inclusion of Community Path design as part of the Green Line extension, and funding for a major expansion of the Bruce Freeman Trail. These are impressive steps – both symbolic and concrete – towards the re-orientation of the department from a highway to a multi-modal transportation agency.