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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.

Sincerely,

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

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.

Jay K. January 13, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Well said.
Lorelei O'Lott January 13, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I can't take much more of this! Rutherford ave Has to be used for traffic only. Who really cares how pretty it looks or how many tress or walkways go down there? You are NOT the "majority" only a few voicing your foolish opinions at a few meetings. Look around you. Notice any more land without homes on it? NO because Charlestown is being consumed with condos and cars and yet mire people but No street to bypass traffic by! Use your heads people! You've got money and educations but not an ounce of common sense among yourselves! "Majority" of fools! Go live at Hampton Beach if you want A blvd! Pa-leez!
just thinking January 14, 2013 at 02:03 AM
all you people who signed this foolish request,none of you are really from charlestown,and live in toonieville ,charlestown needs rutherford ave for TRUCKS.TOWNIES KNOW THIS
Donald Keating January 14, 2013 at 02:22 AM
The reason they built Rutherford Ave was to take traffic off Charlestown streets. Check your history reduce the road and we go back to the traffic using Charlestown streets again Not rocket science just common sense.
just thinking January 14, 2013 at 12:06 PM
to donald k. and have trucks coming up and down bunkerhill st.and main st.,you people who have not live in charlestown at least 20 yrs. should keep your mouths shut,you still cannot angle park a car yet
Joseph January 14, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Majority of Navy Yard residents approve this. Pretty bold letter to send on behalf of the "majority" of Charlestown residents, especially since a "majority" of Charlestown residents don't live in the Navy Yard. I wonder if this same group wanted the cannons to stop too? G'day.
Anne January 15, 2013 at 12:27 AM
I am no longer a Charlestown resident but was born and brought up there and agree that the people that signed this letter are not true townies. You have to be insane not to want the retention of the underpass. Imagine what the traffic will be like with a surface road and how it will affect the people living on Rutherford Ave (all the pollution and noise). I hope the powers that be listen to the "true townies".
Just a person! January 15, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Another point for "ridiculous.com" If you notice the names, and addresses of those who want this stupid idea, are from the other end of town, the same people that DIDN'T want to have tour buses park along the Chelsea st ropewalk, nor have the car carriers go down Chelsea St, they want to shift everything away from them, or have the cannons in the Navy Yard sound off, Are these people also going to be in charge of cleaning up and maintaining this area? This also cost money! I know they will just form another "friends of group" As was stated in a earlier post, Rutherford Ave was developed to move traffic out of our neighborhood. I believe that the stupid project that was put up on W School st ,also has a part in this, what do they need a front lawn? More parking? It is 100 units and only has 100 parking spaces, go figure, don't have to be a genius to figure there is not enough space. That place is already an eyesore, Wake up Charlestown before it is to late, I hope the governor takes all the money away from this stupid idea!

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