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Letter: Surface Option Would Improve Transportation, Promote Public Health

This letter was submitted by a Charlestown resident.

Since Governor Patrick’s transportation plan was recently announced, discussions on funding for transportation projects seem to dominate the news.

In response to the current discussions on Beacon Hill, The Massachusetts Public Health Association spoke out in a recent letter featured in the Charlestown Patch on Jan. 24, regarding the direct impact of transportation on public health and the importance of investing in projects that promote public health. Charlestown has an opportunity to address both public health and transportation, in the reconstruction of Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square.

The surface option, which is a proposal to reconstruct Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square at grade level, is a cost effective plan to improve transportation in Charlestown, while also promoting public health within our community. The plan promotes public health by encouraging more physical activity and safety, through the creation of green space, including 5+ acres of parks, a walking/bike path, better routes to our existing parks, and safer access to public transportation. Additionally, it is much less costly to maintain than the alternative plan.

It seems that during this time of budgetary constraints it is more important than ever to use our tax dollars where they will have a lasting impact on our community. The surface option is a wise investment: cheaper to maintain than the alternative, better for public health and better overall for the wellbeing of our community

For more information and to support the surface option, please visit http://www.rcic-charlestown.org/index.html.

Emilé Baker
Rutherford Avenue

Got something to say on this or any other local topic? Email Letters to the Editor to becca.manning@patch.com. Be sure to include your full name and address.

Just a person! January 30, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Ha ha ha you make me laugh, what about the casino in Everett ? Do you realize the ONLY wy to get to Everett from Boston is thru Charlestown! How's that surface option look for you now! Wake up!
Joseph January 30, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Without a feasibility study conducted on traffic flow with an addition of a casino next door to Charlestown, all plans are dead in the water. These letters being sent to The Patch and our elected officials are an veiled attempt by the RCIC to get a decision passed before necessary analysis are conducted. Only a blind man can't see this. Hopefully those in charge are smart enough not to proceed with further analysis of this "what if" casino situation. @RCIC - I'd like to see how traffic flow will decrease after this necessary analysis. Shouldn't you be updating your public information with some asterisks explaining that these slides DO NOT account for a potential casino? I mean, you are trying to represent an accurate picture for us Charlestown residents, right?
Emile Baker January 31, 2013 at 02:21 AM
Actually, I do not think the health of our neighborhood is a laughing matter. As a mother and private citizen in town, I think The Surface Option is the best plan for our families and keeping our kids safe and healthy. 193 is a much better route to Everett than Rutherford Ave. Cars do not have to go through our neighborhood, nor should we encourage this any longer. Also, the Casino will probably go to Suffolk Downs, anyway.
Dan January 31, 2013 at 03:46 AM
Emile - How would you go via I-93 to Everett from Boston? Or, how about from the Cambridge or Somerville? All paths require getting to Rt99 some how, and most require going via C-Town in some way to get to Rt99. I'm not laughing, I'm very worried we will get stuck with still more traffic which we can't escape from if the casino moves into Everett. Again, the surface design does make sense but only if you can off load some of the traffic into a fully covered tunnel from Sullivan Sq to the City Sq side of Austin St. under the surface design to move the morning & evening traffic thru. The benefits are still less noise and pollution for those who live along Rutherford Ave. with the surface design alone.
Matthew January 31, 2013 at 04:14 AM
At the end of the day, surface options, underpasses, etc. are only addressing a sypmtom and not the disease: there are just too many people using their personal vehicles to drive into the city everyday. It's sign of the time. We have a "me first" mentality and don't want to be put out over anything. How many people could easily take puplic transit all or at least part of the way into the city? Add peoples' aggression levels nowadays being off the charts, and it makes for a nightmare scenario during rush hour. Now, as for casinos, I haven't seen anything lately that convinces me that Suffolk Downs will be the spot (unless I missed something). When it comes down to it, the fact is that most people will cut through Charlestown to get to Everett.
Sean Boyle January 31, 2013 at 05:27 AM
I get your point. BUT If someone is coming from the North via the Tobin and wants to get to I-93 North or to all points North of Everett, they will still have to get off and use Rutherford Avenue. If someone is coming from the West, (from the Prison Point Bridge), they will still have to go through Rutherford Ave to get to I-93 North/South, Route 1 North, or Everett. If someone wants to get on I-93 South from the North-West (Everett, Malden, E. Somerville etc.) they will have to go through Rutherford Ave. The only way the surface option would actually be beneficial is if there was: A) An access point to I-93 South & North via Sullivan Square B) An access point to I-93 North via the Tobin Bridge & City Square Charlestown is a Central Artery point for the highways in Boston, yet the don't all connect with each other. Failed Artery = Failed System.
Bette Task January 31, 2013 at 11:44 AM
HELLO PEOPLE! All your concerned about is a possible casino in Everett! What happens with traffic when the rest of Assembly Square goes on line with more housing, outlet stores and commercial buildings. We're looking at another small city just over the line in Somerville. How is Sullivan Square going to take care of all that traffic? Big dig mistake - they never should have taken down the ramp from the Tobin to I93 north. Just saying.
Matthew January 31, 2013 at 01:20 PM
WHy, oh why, to people use the phrase "just saying". It makes no sense to me. Can someone explain this to me?
Tom Murphy January 31, 2013 at 02:08 PM
A casino in Everett is not going to happen! Surface artery or not, something has to be done with Sullivan Square and Rutherford Ave. Sullivan Square reminds me of the 1960's with trash, overgrown weeds and congestion because of its configuration. Police details have given me very good reason, if traffic is managed, that there will not be a problem. So stop speculating about if there is a casino and start thinking about why there has not been any construction on the Alford Street Bridge in months! That is a problem that has not been discussed in this forum. Reply
Dan January 31, 2013 at 02:21 PM
FYI - Both the Everett site & Suffolk Downs are being looked at for the casino. At this point no one knows what site (if either is used) for one of the three casino's.
Dan January 31, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Bette - Believe it or not it was discounted as being an issue when they did the numbers (review the presentations). The Rt1 South to Rt93 North and Rt93 South to Rt1 North ramps didn't carry enough traffic given the complexity of routing them with the loop ramps moved to the Cambridge side (costs). We did have for a short time a Rt1 South to Rt93 North ramp when the CANA was built (before the Big Dig was even started). Many of us had hoped the ramp would have been able to be saved. The powers to be stated the lead-in was to close to the bridge so it was torn down (I agree a big mistake).
Dan January 31, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Tom - No one is disagreeing with you! We all want this mess cleaned up. Police details every morning & night commuter rush is not a very good solution long term. They also can't make traffic move if it just can't, which is the real problem here. The pathways you would use to get in and out of C-town when it's all grid locked is the rub here with the surface only design, adding in a tunnel with the SAME surface design opens up pathways for us to get in & out, as well as make a much cleaner, quieter & safer Rutherford Ave. Yes, your Right! the Alford St bridge is taking way to much time to replace. Someone needs to lean on these contractors (it's going on four/five years when they started, and they haven't even finished one side).
Jay K. January 31, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Great letter Emilé!
Just a person! January 31, 2013 at 03:00 PM
It's called "job security" Funny they replaced 6 bridges on I 93 on weekends in less than 2months!!! And didn't cause the back ups that we have everyday on Rutherford Ave. Where are you "king Mennino" where are our representatives? If it was West Roxbury it wouldn't be this long.
Joseph January 31, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Tom - How do you know it won't happen? What do you know that we don't? Wouldn't the prudent and responsible course of action be to assume it would, therefore proper planning could be drawn up? And then, should it not go through, the cost associated with developing those plans (look at it as hedging your bet, taking out insurance, whatever) would be much less than starting from scratch? For sake of argument, planning goes forward without considering the casino. What happens to this project now that they have to reconsider traffic flow for the new casino being built? Are you even considering this, or just a closed minded individual? No matter your stance, the prudent call is to think about all scenarios. Your lack of an open mind is exactly why this city of ours is doing double the work, double the expense and double the headaches. And Alford Street Bridge isn't being worked on because the union hacks are probably on schedule and realize that in order to milk the system for millions more of our money, they have to come up with reasons to delay the project. Great reputation they have, huh?
Dan January 31, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Matt - Yes, Pandora's Box let out a nasty fiend - The Car We're all addicted to this fiend, just like cigarettes we need to find a nicotine patch to ween us off or at least get it under control. Creating parking garages near the city at major pathways into the city to move these people onto mass transit makes sense (a good nicotine patch to the problem). Quincy & Alewife Red line garages are great examples. On the Orange line things aren't as good. Yes, Wellington, Malden & Melrose have parking (or near by) note all of these are served by minor roads. What we need is a major road parking garage on the North side of the city. A good place is at the Bunker Hill Community Collage parking lot. A garage there could be a great solution for a few different problems. - The collage could use more parking - The community needs more night parking in the winter - The view & noise of the elevated I-93 could be diminished from the City Sq area - Retail or offices could be placed on the Rutherford side of the structure This parking garage could connect into the Leverett Circle ramps as well as along the Gilmore bridge (Charlestown Ave/Austin St) for the entering and exiting traffic (keeping most of the traffic out of C-Town). Going cold turkey - Is just not in the cards, we all want our freedom of transit when & where we want to go. All we can do is lesson the load by getting people out of their cars where they find it the most attractive to.
Dan January 31, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Sean - The connections between Rt93 & Rt1 with all of the other interconnections made it very difficult, as well as the costs given the quantity of traffic. They did a very good job measuring the on/off ramp traffic and it just wasn't there. Even now, I don't think it's that much Rt1 South to Rt93 North or even Rt93 South to Rt1 North that is traveling on our roads. We did have an on ramp at City Sq Rt93 North, the Big Dig on ramp from the North End got in the way and they didn't have enough room (so told to us after the fact of the change) and it's removal. I agree, I think they could have made it work. They also killed the Rt93 South entry as they didn't want to confuse people. It did improve things at City Sq a bit as the extra traffic entering the on ramps there did clog things up at times (which was also a reason they pulled them). I would have liked a Rt93 North entry as part of the Miller's River Rt1 North entry. Rt93 South could have been added off of Washington St. I think then the risk of back up would have been less.
Tom Murphy February 01, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Joseph: If you followed press releases from Everett and Boston officials about the Everett casino, the reason the casino will not be built in Everett is that there is a key City of Boston parcel that is needed for development. Therefore, if I were a betting man, my money is on the Suffolk Downs site.
Joseph February 01, 2013 at 07:27 PM
"a key City of Boston parcel" - This is Boston. Boston, and the Commonwealth, needs money. As long as the price is right, you and I both know that parcel of land is for sale. Just look around how many of these City owned plots are being sold off all around us. Am I right or am I right? But thank you for failing to acknowledge my point about taking into account for the potential increase in traffic flow. Without doing so, you're supporting a flawed plan. Going into a huge undertaking such as this, without proper due diligence, is not only wasteful, but naive. Always account for "what if" scenarios!! And while you're at it, update that website of yours. You're providing flawed data.
Tom Murphy February 01, 2013 at 08:15 PM
I am supporting a plan that has been reviewed by consultants, city engineers and have attended many meetings when this plan was presented to the community. What if the the Red Sox built Fenway Park at the Hoods Plant as suggested many years ago. What if's flaw progress! Navigating Sullivan Square is hazardous and it is time for change! Support the Surface artery!
Joseph February 01, 2013 at 08:57 PM
Reviewed before talk of a casino coming Tom. Trying to fast track this flawed Surface Option by all your letters makes it clear you and your supporters have no regard for taxpayers dollars. "What Ifs" are a responsible look at huge expenditures. Now that this casino is a potential project, it has to be analyzed. Couple dollars spent now to do a complete analysis of this new information is a LOT cheaper than building something that would have to be changed in 10 years due to inadequate planning. And hey, it may show that it will make no difference! Unfortunately, no matter what I say, or others say, you have blinders on. But I will agree, change is necessary.
Just a person! February 02, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Hey Tom Do you know what is really funny? That back in the 60's when they re-configured Rutherford Ave it was what "you" surface option people want now! Rutherford Ave was designed back then to keep the flow of traffic out of side streets and keep it on the outside of the town, but being a new comer here you and your group probaly don't realize that! There was no tunnel at Austin St. And back then it was a nightmare also. So I guess my point is.... WHY? Are we going backwards! We have already removed part of the solution when we took out the Overpass, NOW you want to remove the underpasses! Makes absolutely no sense to me. If water was flowing freely, why? Would you put a smaller pipe in? In other words, you cannot fit 10 lbs of garbage in a 5lb bag! Oh, and another point to ponder, back then ther also was another road that ran behind the College from Sullivan Sq to City Sq. Yes, I have LIVED HERE, that long!
Ray Stanford. February 02, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Anybody know what's going on now that DiPirro Restaurant supply at 465 Rutherford Ave has closed? Will another business be located here or a new residential development? It looks like they are moving everything out.
Joseph February 07, 2013 at 06:20 PM
@Tom @Emile @ RCIC - You see, it all has to be planned into any potential project. Was money spent to analyze Rutherford Ave, yes. Is further analysis (and money) needed now that this casino may be built, 100% yes! Your refusal to acknowledge this takes away from your credibility. Failing to address this on your site, or update ANY of your presentations contained on your site is a failure to present the truth. Basically, you're selling a bait and switch proposal. Take your blinders off. Start becoming fiscally responsible. Supporting the surface option is one thing. Trying to convince the residents of Charlestown that this is the best option based on erroneous data is egregious at best. http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/02/casino_czar_%E2%80%A8to_wynn_let%E2%80%99s_talk

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