Design a Better Lot

bigeman312

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90% of the Huntington/South Huntington problem would be eliminated if street parking were eliminated.
It would help, but 90% is a huge exaggeration. The left turn from South Huntington to Huntington on the trolley tracks is a huge percentage of the problem. Stand there for an hour and count how many times a left turning car is waiting at a red light, blocking a southbound trolley, with nowhere to go but into the intersection. That’s a major source of gridlock right there, with or without street parking.
 

Siobhán

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Whenever I walk to or from the 39 I think that the MSPCA could probably do without the parking lot along Perkins Street.

The 7-11 and Gas Station in Hyde Square are also taking up decent locations, particularly if the E gets extended down here. Though to be fair there isn't a gas station in the city that isn't sitting on a lot too good for a gas station.
 

HenryAlan

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Whenever I walk to or from the 39 I think that the MSPCA could probably do without the parking lot along Perkins Street.

The 7-11 and Gas Station in Hyde Square are also taking up decent locations, particularly if the E gets extended down here. Though to be fair there isn't a gas station in the city that isn't sitting on a lot too good for a gas station.
There used to be a building in that location (just behind the wall), occupied by the World Society for Protection of Animals. I spent a Summer working there and I know the building was in bad shape, but I'm not sure what led to the demolition decision. At any rate, I bet the MSPCA could make a good chunk of change re-developing that corner.
 

bigeman312

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Couldn't find the perfect thread for this, so here goes.

This pitch is for Prentiss Street (Mission Hill) and the Southwest Corridor.

Terminate Prentiss Street at Albert Street, ending its status as a high-speed cut-through for those avoiding Tremont Street traffic. After this change, Pretiss would act as a neighborhood street, much like nearby Annunciation Road.

The section between Albert St and the BPD parking lot entrance can be reclaimed as an expanded part of the Southwest Corridor Park, with a multi-use path extending from the new terminus of Prentiss to the SW Corridor Path.

The section from the BPD parking lot entrance to Tremont St can be repurposed as an exclusive entrance to that BPD parking lot or as expanded park-land.

This proposal would be more of a value add for cyclists, pedestrians, etc than it would be a loss for drivers. This section of the Southwest Corridor is such a major thoroughfare for micro-mobility, broken up by such an unnecessary cut-through. The blind corner, often high-speed vehicles, and unsignalized nature of the crossing is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

The end result would be a coveted uninterrupted 0.4 miles of multi-use trail between Ruggles St and Tremont St.

Bigger picture: I'd like to see the same treatment in JP for Atherton St, Gordon St, and McBride St. These are all low automobile volume, not network critical, high-nuisance crossings on the Southwest Corridor.
 

Arlington

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Why is the whole Ruggles-BPD-Rox stretch so highly variable and not TOD'd by now? It can't just be "nobody wants to go there" since clearly there's a demand for acres of surface parking (so there's some activity)
 

JeffDowntown

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Why is the whole Ruggles-BPD-Rox stretch so highly variable and not TOD'd by now? It can't just be "nobody wants to go there" since clearly there's a demand for acres of surface parking (so there's some activity)
Perhaps you identified the problem -- the surface parking.

The publicly funded facilities that were placed there to "seed development", Roxbury Community College, Boston Police Headquarters... rely on all that cheap/free surface parking, and are likely jealously guarding it.
 

stefal

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I've contemplated sketching out an entirely new street grid for most of that area. It's terribly underutilized land on both sides of the OL.
 

DZH22

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I would like to see a couple outlet ramps originating from the top 2 floors of Alewife parking garage, joining together and feeding directly into Route 2 West. This is really one of 2 key outlet valves needed to help clear the traffic on Alewife Brook Parkway. Route 2 West is always pretty wide open until around/after 95, so the faster we can get cars off the surface roads and onto that highway, the better.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I would like to see a couple outlet ramps originating from the top 2 floors of Alewife parking garage, joining together and feeding directly into Route 2 West. This is really one of 2 key outlet valves needed to help clear the traffic on Alewife Brook Parkway. Route 2 West is always pretty wide open until around/after 95, so the faster we can get cars off the surface roads and onto that highway, the better.
Wetlands, wetlands, wetlands. The whole area is such a maximum-priority MEPA remediation zone that the ramp trajectories are extremely limited. Short of a flyover of the rotary via the existing parking egress there really aren't any new permissible ramp alignments to try.
 

DZH22

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Wetlands, wetlands, wetlands. The whole area is such a maximum-priority MEPA remediation zone that the ramp trajectories are extremely limited. Short of a flyover of the rotary via the existing parking egress there really aren't any new permissible ramp alignments to try.
Have the ramp directly over the "Alewife Station Access Road" exit from Route 2E. Then cross it over the highway, sharp left, and drop it into 2W around the edge of Thorndike Field. See the marker in the linked map (says 99 Margaret Street) for approximate area to meet the ramp to the highway. (edit - marker isn't showing, but around the lower left "corner" of the oddly shaped field)


I really feel like this area will be permanently broken if we can't get more cars onto 2W at a faster pace, away from the Alewife Brook Parkway logjam.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Have the ramp directly over the "Alewife Station Access Road" exit from Route 2E. Then cross it over the highway, sharp left, and drop it into 2W around the edge of Thorndike Field. See the marker in the linked map (says 99 Margaret Street) for approximate area to meet the ramp to the highway. (edit - marker isn't showing, but around the lower left "corner" of the oddly shaped field)


I really feel like this area will be permanently broken if we can't get more cars onto 2W at a faster pace, away from the Alewife Brook Parkway logjam.
The swingout over Thorndike is exactly what's objectionable. There were past proposals to double-up the current access ramp next to the Minuteman with a WB entrance ramp. It would've fit just fine underneath the bridge next to the trail by cutting back the sloped drainage channels under the bridge to widen it out to max width. But it would've cannibalized one of the Thorndike soccer fields and engaged some wetlands out by the merge onto 2W by the angle, and Town of Arlington was vehemently opposed to that.

It's exactly as D.O.A. if you try the exact same swing-out footprint with an elevated structure. Same land impacts, and you'd get stiff opposition from residents along Thorndike St. who'd have the elevated ramp (and noise impacts therein) in plain sight.


The options are painfully limited here. Short-hop overpass of the rotary is just about the only thing that isn't going to get tanked for environmental reasons, residential opposition, or municipal opposition because it threads that narrowest line of staying all on-MassDOT land footprint while hewing narrowly to a dead zone for abutter visual/auditory impacts. Not elegant turn geometry out of the station, but it would accomplish the task where no other trajectory would so much as get a permit. If far-less-than-perfect are the only options for something better than "permanently broken", then far less than perfect is what you'll have to pursue for the best possible mitigation.

Keep in mind as well...it's not just the station exit. The lack of free unsignaled merge movements 16W-to-2W and 16E-to-16E is fuckin' lethal to queue management, and the "Brownsberger Square" touch-up job MassHighway did 8 years ago did bupkis for those more basic improvements. And the rotary + station are badly compounded by the double lights at Cambridgepark & Rindge; those roads (whether Rindge still retains a prohibition on Alewife thru traffic or not) absolutely must be squared up to a single-point signal cycle to do their part. The straight-ahead station exit-to-2W signal wouldn't be so outsized a drag if any of the other cogs were operating at better-than clownshoes efficiency. The whole organism is sickly. No single killshot ramp is going to fix it unless bolts get tightened everywhere they can be tightened. But of course, it's Alewife so absolutely no one is trying.
 

DZH22

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The options are painfully limited here. Short-hop overpass of the rotary is just about the only thing that isn't going to get tanked for environmental reasons, residential opposition, or municipal opposition because it threads that narrowest line of staying all on-MassDOT land footprint while hewing narrowly to a dead zone for abutter visual/auditory impacts.
Which rotary are you referring to here? The 2 I can think of are both down the street from Route 2, without a direct effect on it. The one from ABP to Concord Ave is yet an additional issue. The biggest problem there are the pedestrians constantly stopping traffic at the crosswalks in both directions, particularly the one right off the rotary towards Belmont. All of the new residential development is only going to make this situation worse and worse. Every time somebody needs to cross the street, the rotary traffic stops dead. I don't think they could create a poorer setup here if they were actively trying to make it as much of a mess as possible.

Here is another question. Could they somehow built an elevated ramp, over the train tracks and wetlands, to connect Acorn Park Drive with, say, Mooney Street? Then Smith Place (turn by Burger King) could become the 2nd cut-through, alleviated traffic from both the Blanchard/Brighton slow roll, as well as from getting back onto Alewife Brook Parkway. Obviously then they need better Route 2W access from Acorn Park Drive, but that seems more solvable if you move it away from the wetlands slightly.

I cannot accept that there is no possible way to create another outlet somewhere around Alewife. If this is true, construction across the neighborhood needs to stop immediately and permanently.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Which rotary are you referring to here?
The malformed main one at 2. Functionally it's a "destroyed rotary" now, but 30 years ago before the station exit was built there was indeed a real traffic circle there. That worked better than the irredeemable mess currently in-place.

Here is another question. Could they somehow built an elevated ramp, over the train tracks and wetlands, to connect Acorn Park Drive with, say, Mooney Street? Then Smith Place (turn by Burger King) could become the 2nd cut-through, alleviated traffic from both the Blanchard/Brighton slow roll, as well as from getting back onto Alewife Brook Parkway. Obviously then they need better Route 2W access from Acorn Park Drive, but that seems more solvable if you move it away from the wetlands slightly.
Nope...wetlands. Shitloads and shitloads of wetlands. The only reason Acorn Park Dr. exists is because it and a small section of 2 to Lake St. were once the railbed of a Fitchburg Line branch spur to the 19th c. icehouse at Spy Pond. ROW traceable by the north-south stretch of Acorn Park, the WB off/onramps for Lake St. abutting the south shore of the pond, and WB offramp to Pleasant St. where the icehouse was...with a second spur following present-day Spy Pond Pkwy. on the east side of the lake. Spur crossed the brook right here on a wood trestle (no trace remains), cut across the last few feet of Fitchburg Cutoff ROW on a diamond, then junctioned with the Fitchburg Line only 50 ft. later. After c1900 when refrigeration rendered the icehouses obsolete the spur was cut back to just present-day Acorn Park for an old factory on the Royal Belmont site, before being completely abandoned during the Depression.

Acorn Park-proper is built on remediated brownfields from that old factory. The moat in the middle between Royal Belmont and Vox On Two is remediated 'faux'-wetlands detached from the Alewife Brook hydrology, while the previous + current generations of redev inside of the road loop sits on remediated dirty dirt. It is, in every way/shape/form, its own disconnected island. Spanning anywhere south of the current east-west expanse of Acorn Park Dr. starts touching the ancestral Brook-connected wetlands. Even though a single-track wood RR trestle used to span that, it's been gone for 80 years and the environmental rehabilitation of the Alewife Brook system is a wholly modern phenomenon. You'll never get an all-new construction permit for anything through there...not even a footbridge for less-circuitous connection to the Cutoff Path.


The fixes for Acorn Park are limited in nature, but straightforward in execution.
  • Delete the superfluous 'middle' onramp from Lake St. to 2E.
  • Use the reclaimed merge pavement from the deleted ramp to stripe the exit ramp to Lake St. 900 ft. further out.
  • Change the Lake exit ramp from a one-way loop to a signalized intersection squared up with Acorn Park. Bank the extended exit stripage from the deleted ramp with a jersey-barriering of that exit lane for some distance back onto the 2E mainline so it's a proper-length exit ramp to this new traffic light.
  • Frontage to/from Lake St. is now a 2-way access road. Highway access from 2E now either/or's at the light to Lake or Acorn Park. Note that 2W access from Acorn Park is already not bad by having a turnout onto the Lake frontage...but the reconfig puts a wayfinding highlight on the frontage to make it seem more logical.
  • Wraparound of Acorn Park to Alewife Station exit is now made one-way only. Right turns now banned off the high-speed exit because of the better alt accommodations at the revised Lake exit, and right-turns onto the Alewife exit can be traffic island'ed + yield-signed for a modicum better safety than today.
^^Not perfect^^ because the Vox curb cuts are still a giant turd...but a humongous safety improvement overall, and way more logical wayfinding.


I cannot accept that there is no possible way to create another outlet somewhere around Alewife. If this is true, construction across the neighborhood needs to stop immediately and permanently.
Unfortunately there's truth in both these statements. There really, truly isn't any path to cleanroom another outlet. Just geometric fixes begatting wayfinding fixes and a whole shitton of signal optimization to do. And yes, the whole neighborhood has to have a reckoning after going mad in such a very wrong direction with all this parking-centric redev. Concord Ave. is but the latest metastisizing of the cancer with such godawful-slovenly parking ratios being baked into every new project. Full "STOP!" and ban on dev expansion shouldn't be necessary if the planning dunderheads here were capable of adjusting on-the-fly. After all, there is no shortage of ace transit orientation here calling to immediate question why building parking ratios have to be so insanely high in every PNF. That is most definitely an on-the-fly change they can--if willing--fully make to start wrestling these problems back under control.

But in the political-planning axis...Greater Alewife already is a lost cause now repeat doubling-down itself into carpocalypse. They're intent on marching themselves off an unsustainability cliff. I don't have any good answers for why that is happening. It is a willful choice on their part, to our future detriment. But the fix isn't going to come by mass road-building across wetlands. That's simply not going to ever be allowable with how utter max-priority the Alewife Brook hydrological mitigation effort was. The fix is going to be a lot of sweaty bolt-tightening across the road network...each cog of add'l micro-efficiency gains building on every other cog's worth with no self-satisfying killshots available (unless you rate that in-situ bridgeover of the 2/16 rotary from the station exit as a steel-and-concrete winner). It's going to come by putting standards on the parking ratios of all subsequent redev in the area, including reining Concord Ave. back in before all is lost. And it's going to include targeted renovations to the Cambridgepark buildings to rein in their parking ratios...agonizingly gradually...tenants no-doubt dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. No easy "undo" button for parking ratios already askew...just pressure, time, and rigid consistency until turnover starts to make the area incrementally resemble less of a car-trap hellscape. Dirty, absolute zero instant-gratification work playing the long game.

But if you want an Alewife that isn't so egregious an albatross that it must be written completely off and nuked from orbit come 2040, that's literally what it'll take to improve from present condition. No easy answers.
 

DZH22

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^^^I appreciate your thoughtful answers and dread returning to the office post-Covid. (which happens to be in this neighborhood)
 

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