To: Richard Davey, Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation
Subject: Safe Bicycle and Pedestrian Passage on Bridges and Roadways between Newton and Needham
Honorable Secretary Davey,
The MassDOT holds key responsibility for advancing the design of our state bridges and roadways to ensure their safety and functionality for all users. Your new “Green DOT” initiative is an integral part of that mandate to advance bicycle safety on new and redesigned facilities. The “Complete Streets” philosophy adopted by the Commonwealth provides guidance toward incorporating bicycle and pedestrian accommodations into the designs.
We are deeply concerned that two of the MassDOT projects for reconstructing bridges and roadways between Newton and Needham now in advanced stages of design are not incorporating these approaches! The Kendrick and Highland Avenue Bridges over Route 128 (Project #603711) and Highland Ave/Needham Street (Project #606635) have not incorporated the consensus recommendations conveyed by all of the concerned bicycle and pedestrian advocates in Newton and Needham directly to your project managers and engineers six months ago (attached). The most critical safety issues continue to include:
• Lack of coordination and continuity of bicycle accommodations between the two projects
Unless the designs are modified, these critical safety issues will continue to negatively impact bicyclists attempting to negotiate the roadways and bridges between our two communities for decades to come. As a result, the highway becomes even more of a geographical barrier between the communities instead of the projects providing a means to unite them. Furthermore, an important opportunity to advance the state’s goals of encouraging alternative transportation to reduce our carbon footprint will have been needlessly squandered.
We urge you to open a review of the bridge and roadway designs on these two projects with the attached specific recommendations and alternatives for safe bicycle and pedestrian accommodations in mind. The current state of design of the accommodations can only be characterized as inadequate and unsafe by all concerned. Considering the advanced stage of design on the bridge project, it is imperative that a fresh look be made immediately. Our safety and the vision of transportation between the municipalities for generations to come are at stake.
Thank you in advance for your attention and action in this important matter!
George Kirby, Chair, Newton Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force