Letter: Charlestown Residents Ask Capuano To Support Austin Street Surface Option
This letter was submitted by a group of Charlestown residents.
A group of Charlestown residents shared this letter, which they submitted to Seventh District U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano on Jan. 9, 2013:
Dear Congressman Capuano:
In your letter dated July 18, 2011 you referred to the Rutherford Avenue Project as “...a once in a lifetime opportunity for Charlestown to improve a vast corridor which runs the length of the community.” We agree: it is indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance the quality of life for the present and future residents of Charlestown.
A Charlestown Patch article, dated Nov. 30, 2010, referred to the goal of the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) to transform an automobile-oriented highway-like roadway to a neighborhood-friendly urban boulevard with adequate traffic capacity, bicycle lanes and a green linear corridor.
We are now at a decision point on the final design of the Rutherford Avenue Project. Commissioner Thomas Tinlin of BTD has stated publicly that he anticipates a decision being made before the end of the winter.
AT BTD’s most recent meeting on Dec. 6, 2012 the focus was on the Austin Street intersection. Adoption of the “Surface Option” at Austin Street and elimination of the underpass will ensure the creation of a neighborhood-friendly urban boulevard with adequate traffic capacity, bicycle lanes and a green linear corridor.
The sequence of events which has brought us to the present situation demonstrates that the entire process conducted by BTD over an approximate four year period has been a model of transparency. All interested Charlestown residents have been afforded ample opportunity to express their opinions and to have them taken into consideration. The process took place in essentially two parts: the first spanned a period of about eighteen months during which BTD held eight public hearings and made numerous presentations to neighborhood groups, elected officials, regional organizations and advocacy groups.
The first part conducted by BTD to discuss the available options for the Rutherford Avenue Project, culminated in broad community support for the Surface Option. BTD adopted this option based on broad community support from residents who took the time to attend the meetings and inform themselves of the considerations involved. The almost unanimous support of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council followed.
Subsequently, however, you raised concerns publicly about traffic congestion and questioned the viability of the endorsed plan. Some residents expressed serious concerns that they had not been given an opportunity to be heard.
With respect to the traffic concerns it is important to note that traffic data relating to both options presented by the professional firm, Tetra Tech, include actual vehicle counts at Austin Street at various times during the day over four different years. The data show that the Surface Option will provide adequate traffic capacity for the reduced number of vehicles now using Rutherford Avenue.
The proponents of the underpass option, on the other hand, have voiced skepticism of the actual traffic counts, but have not presented any conflicting analysis or data.
In response to the concerns that some residents had not had an opportunity to be heard, BTD held additional community meetings, the last on Dec. 6, 2012. This meeting was very large and well attended and proponents of both the Surface Option and the retention of the underpass spoke. Near the end of the meeting Commissioner Tinlin asked for a show of hands. The Surface Option was the overwhelming choice of those present.
In your May 7, 2012 letter to the Rutherford Corridor Improvement Coalition you stated: “Throughout this process my sole focus has been on fostering an open and honest discussion amongst Charlestown residents in the hope of reaching consensus on how to move forward...My focus has and will continue to be, creating an opportunity for residents to share their thoughts on this important once-in-a-lifetime redesign effort. I certainly recognize and understand that it is impossible to achieve 100 percent consensus on any project.”
There can be no doubt that the process conducted by BTD clearly has provided an open and honest discussion and an opportunity for all residents to share their thoughts and be heard on this very important redesign. The overwhelming show of hands in favor of the Surface Option at the last BTD meeting demonstrates convincingly that a significant majority endorsed the Surface Option. It is now time to move forward with this design.
Your letter of July 18, 2011 stated that you “...want nothing more than to get this project done quickly and efficiently.” It is now time to move forward so this goal can be achieved.
We urge you to recognize the expressed will of the convincing majority of Charlestown residents who have participated in this important community dialogue. It is time to encourage the City of Boston to proceed with the favored Surface Option at the Austin Street intersection and we urge you to do so.
Ivey St. John, Monument Avenue
L. Paul Sullivan, First Avenue
Guy Maccarone, Chelsea Street
Dan Keohane, Eighth Street
Pamela Daly, First Avenue
Lawrence Stevens, Monument Avenue
Gene Myerov, Eighth Street
Roberta Myerov, Eighth Street
Maureen Donovan, First Avenue
Edward Cardinali, Eighth Street
Jean Tochterman, 13th Street
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