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February 24, 2011

Richard K. Sullivan Jr.


Secretary, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: Anderson Bridge Underpasses

Dear Secretary Sullivan,

We the undersigned are writing you because we urgently want to see underpasses added as part of
the Anderson Bridge restoration. The following, jointly-signed letter, outlines our intent and concerns
for this important project that affects the history, environment and people that live in the cities along
the Charles River.

Our specific concern addresses the momentous opportunity that the rehabilitation project of the
Anderson Memorial Bridge presents to both improve the condition of the bridge itself and
simultaneously include underpasses that increase safety and, ease and pleasure for non-motorized
users when walkers, runners and bikers utilize the pathways along the river. To make walking,
running and biking easier for both recreation and commuting brings tremendous health benefits as
well as increases the sustainable transportation efforts of all cities bordering the Charles River
Parklands. Despite these important and essential benefits associated with underpasses along the
river's edge, the current plans by the MassDOT (as stated on February 9th, 2011, MassDOT issued
the Environmental Notification Form) exclude the underpasses in the Anderson Bridge Rehabilitation
Project for three reasons: permitting, historic preservation and cost. In light of these plans, we have
summarized below the issues, as well as outlined our main reasons for why the bridge underpasses
should unequivocally be included as part of this project.

Brief Summary of Issues & Public Process:


The request for adding of pathway underpasses came up at each of the four public meetings, and
State Representatives Honan, Walz and Wolf as well as staff of Sen. DiDomenico, Sen. Tolman, Rep.
Moran and CRC president Renata von Tscharner met with senior MassDOT officials on Dec 2nd to
discuss the addition of underpasses. Rep. Marty Walz asked for MassDOT’s underpasses study to be
put on their web site, which happened at the end of December 2010. Furthermore, Luisa
Paiewonsky’s letter included in the Environmental Notification Form states that “the need for
structural rehabilitation of the bridge is being approached by MassDOT as an opportunity to improve
universal accessibility and pedestrian and bicycle connections around the bridge, as well as overall
enhancements to the parkland in the vicinity of the project.” We too see this renovation as an
opportunity to increase access and provide unimpeded mobility for the pathways along the Charles,
but believe that in order to fulfill these objectives, MassDOT must recognize that the commuter
system of the future must prioritize those utilizing sustainable, fossil fuel-free transportation, and
subsequently plan for a city that will increasingly value that priority.

It is our absolute position that the reasons for adding the underpasses by far outweigh any other
argument. Given this, we have addressed below the objections raised by MassDOT:

Length of Permitting: MassDOT stated that due to legislative requirements as part of the Accelerated
Bridge Program, the bridges had to be completed by 2016, and therefore issues that might prolong
the permitting needs to be avoided. However, as Rep. Walz pointed out at the meeting on December
2nd 2010, the legislature when it passed the Transportation bill did not set a project deadline of
2016. This is a deadline that MassDOT has imposed on itself. Therefore, this self-imposed deadline

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must not be used to find reasons to justify why improvements such as adding underpasses should
not be incorporated into the design.

Historic Preservation: MassDOT stated that installing underpasses within the wingwalls of the
Anderson Memorial Bridge would have an adverse effect on the national Register of Historic Places.
However, in a letter by Ellen Lipsey, the Director of Boston Landmarks Commission, states that "the
shape of the underpass vaults should be revised to relate to the design and specifically the arched
form of the bridge. The BLC notes the importance of the edge and surface detailing at the faces of
the underpasses" (ENF Attachment 6, pg. 164). As a matter of fact, and in contraposition to
MassDOT's concern, the length of the permitting process might actually be lengthened if the
underpasses are not included, because the environmental benefits of providing underpasses for
non-motorized users actually counteract, and help balance the impact of the restoration work.
Compared to the life cycle of the bridge, which would range between 75 and 100 years, the added
length of design impact estimated at 7 months to include the underpasses is a sound and essential
public investment for the future of multi-modal transportation and thousands of people along the
river. We also consider that the advantages afforded by surface improvements at traffic intersections
proposed by MassDOT are an important and essential component of the Bridge Rehabilitation and
that they should remain as part of the scope of work, in order to project the safe and feasible
infrastructure resulting from the future increase in users at grade, and below grade, with the
underpasses.

Additional Cost: MassDOT stated that the cost of rehabilitation incurred by the addition of the
underpasses would result in a 10%-15% increase of the total cost of the bridge. We see this
additional cost as an investment in the multi-modal strategy that the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts has set forth as well as in the lives of the people using the pathways and parklands
along the Charles River.

Loss of parklands: While some opponents might argue that adding ramps that lead to the
underpasses would result in a loss of parklands, the ramps would only help to enhance the
accessibility and appreciation of the parklands by allowing its users to be closer to the water and
more removed from motorized traffic.

In addition to these issues, we have further enumerated several other reasons for including the
underpasses as part of the Anderson bridge rehabilitation project:

Safety through Traffic Separation: As you are already aware, there currently exists other examples of
underpasses along the Charles River, namely on both sides of the Eliot Bridge. The underpasses
serve thousands every day, allowing unimpeded flow along the water’s edge below the bridge while
avoiding traffic conflicts at vehicular intersections. While the current state of their design and
maintenance leaves much to be desired, they do however provide a crucial and essential connection
along the river. The separation of motorized vehicular flow and non-motorized mobility through the
use of underpasses enables a multitude of functions such as bicycle commuting, running, walking,
and inline skating to be both safer, faster and much more enjoyable for daily, weekly and seasonal
users.

Safety & Light: MassDOT has expressed a concern about the safety and security of the underpasses
for the Anderson Bridge. However, these underpasses are very, very short (60') and will not create
dangerous tunnels or other public safety hazards, They can easily be designed with appropriate
profiles that increase the amount of overall light access, while making them cost-effective in terms of
maintenance. In addition to this, the inclusion of ramps from the underpasses to the pathways will
encourage more circulation, more people and better access to the water for the full enjoyment of the
water's edge.

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Timeliness: MassDOT has stated that the addition of the underpasses will result a 7-month impact of
the project timeline and therefore would potentially revisit the issue of the underpasses in the future.
However, this impact is minimal and would in part be due to the embedded water pipes and other
interior components of the bridge. However, given the current economic climate and cost of
remobilization, it is extremely unlikely that MassDOT or anyone else will go to the added cost and
time expense of re-mobilizing, re-disturbing site conditions, to retrofit the Anderson bridge in the
immediate or distant future. Given this, it is imperative that the underpasses be constructed now, in
parallel with the project of rehabilitation while crews and construction facilities are mobilized.

Health Benefits: With increasing attention to health and the level of obesity that has reached
epidemic proportions in the State (according to the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, childhood
obesity has tripled in the past three decades with over 30% of children in the State of Massachusetts
classified as overweight today), as well as with MassDOT’s commitment to a multi-modal
transportation strategy, the design of these bridge underpasses must be thoroughly considered as
an underlying urban infrastructure, an essential public service and a healthcare assurance policy.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity: Given that the service life of the Anderson Bridge, as well as other
bridges along the Charles River, is between 50 to 100 years, we are amidst an important moment in
the cities’ history. This is quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to service a growing urban
demand for alternative forms of mobility that reduce carbon emissions and traffic conflict while
dramatically increasing safety and contributing to overall health and well-being through self-powered
mobility.

In consideration of all the issues outlined above, we urge MEPA to ask MassDOT to incorporate the
underpasses in their proposal for the rehabilitation of the Anderson Bridge, as they present a unique
opportunity for the cities and establish an important precedent in support of multi-modal future of
the region.

Given the importance of alternative, non-motorized and self-powered personal mobility and the
active recreational potential parallel to the river, we thoughtfully request that this matter be given
urgent attention at this unique moment in the future of the State’s and the City’s infrastructure,
ecology and economy.

Respectfully yours,

Renata von Tscharner, President, Charles River Conservancy 4 Brattle Street Cambridge, MA 02138

Cc:
Attn: Beth Suedmeyer. MassDOT, Highway Division, Environmental Services
10 Park Plaza, Room 4260 Boston, MA 02116-3973

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