Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 31, 2011

Fright Night – Halloween at the Cambridge City Council – Oct 31, 2011

Filed under: City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 3:53 pm

Fright Night – Halloween at the Cambridge City Council – Oct 31, 2011

This is the next to last meeting before next week’s municipal election. If you understand politics, you know that you get more votes by distributing candy to the children of voters than by chatting away at a Council meeting. Let’s hope this is a short one. Here are a few items that caught my attention this week.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 11-124, regarding a report on the racial makeup of the City’s workforce.

Oct 31, 2011
To the Honorable, the City Council:

Please find attached a response to Awaiting Report Item Number 11-124, regarding a report on the racial makeup of the City’s workforce.

Below is a summary of the attached reports:
Total Employees 2,424
Total People of Color 788 (32.51%) more than double the US Census PMSA goal of 15%. (PMSA Preliminary Metropolitan Statistical Area defined by U.S. Census as our applicant recruiting area. This is taken from the U.S. Census EEO-4 data tool for affirmative action planning purposes. The next release of this tool is scheduled for fall of 2012.)
Women 1,056 (43.56%)

Below is additional information on new hires from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011:
59% of all hires were people of color
46% of all hires were women
86% of all hires were Cambridge residents

Very truly yours, Robert W. Healy, City Manager

If you listened to all the misleading information that’s been thrown around lately, you might find this information surprising. Perhaps you should question some of the drivel emanating from Brookford St. and Hilliard St. One of the worst aspects of municipal election campaigns is the tendency for activists with long grudges to manipulate the facts to suit their agendas.

Unfinished Business #9. A communication was received from D. Margaret Drury, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sam Seidel, Chair of the Ordinance Committee for a public meeting held on Sept 7, 2011 to consider a petition filed by Julia Bishop et al., to amend Section 17.20 of the Zoning Ordinance – Regulations for Special District 2, located in North Cambridge along Linear Park. [Order #26 adopted on Oct 17, 2011 to discharge from committee. Report placed on Unfinished Business on Oct 17, 2011.] The question comes on passing to a Second Reading. Planning Board hearing held Sept 13, 2011. Petition expires Dec 6, 2011.

Indications are that the City Council will not take final action on this petition before the municipal election, but I’ve seen votes taken on the eve of an election that nobody would have expected. Fear really is a great motivator.

Unfinished Business #10. A communication was received from D. Margaret Drury, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sam Seidel, Chair of the Ordinance Committee for a public meeting held on Sept 7, 2011 to consider a petition to amend the Zoning Ordinance filed by Elizabeth deRham et al. The petition proposes an amendment to Section 9.16 of the Zoning which currently provides for a $100 per violation per day fine upon conviction of said violation. The amendment would provide for a fine not to exceed the maximum specified in M.G.L. Ch 40A sec.7, currently $300 per violation per day and would allow the fine to be levied at the discretion of the Superintendent of Buildings. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Oct 31, 2011. Planning Board hearing held Sept 13, 2011. Petition expires Dec 6, 2011.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from D. Margaret Drury, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sam Seidel, Chair of the Ordinance Committee for a public meeting held on Oct 13, 2011 to consider a petition filed by Laura Runkel et al. to rezone 41 Bellis Circle, an area abutting the northern block of Bellis Circle, bordered on the north by the commuter rail tracks, on the south by Bellis Circle and on the east side by Sherman Street, from Residence C-1A to Residence C.

I have this theory that because so many zoning petitions were introduced recently it may be a good political move to pass one or two of the less problematic ones as kind of a "peace offering" on the eve of the municipal election. These two seem like good candidates.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested confer with the Police Commissioner and report back to the City Council with the details of the recent string of street robberies and the police action being taken to maintain the safety of residents and report back to the City Council.   Councillor Toomey

I believe I actually saw the two perpetrators who were robbing people at gunpoint the recent night they robbed a guy on Harvard Street in Mid-Cambridge. Something at the time told me that these guys were up to no good. There have been quite a few of these robberies lately. We had a motorbike and several bicycles stolen from my block over the last few weeks. As a voter, public safety is my personal bottom line. If city councillors cannot address this most basic concern, then everything else they say and do is irrelevant. There will be a Community Meeting hosted by City Councillor Tim Toomey and the Cambridge Police Department on Wed, Nov 2 at 6:00pm in the First Floor Community Room of the Police Station (125 Sixth Street) to address the recent armed robberies in the East Cambridge and Wellington-Harrington area.

Order #3. That the City Manager hereby is requested to provide information responding to questions raised in the Ordinance Committee hearing on a proposed zoning amendment to allow the construction of basement units.   Councillor Seidel, Mayor Maher and Vice Mayor Davis

This concerns the Petition That Will Not Die from Chestnut Hill Realty, financiers of several City Council reelection campaigns. My view is that these basements should be used for storage, bicycle parking, laundry, and utilities. The only purpose of this petition is to create money. It has nothing to do with good planning or quality of life.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor to look into the feasibility of instituting a policy that, after ascertainment, if the City of Cambridge takes more than 90 days to negotiate a contract with a potential cable service provider, the potentially new service provider can operate under the same terms as the existing incumbent service provider, with the option to continue negotiation with the City of Cambridge while operating under those terms, and report back to the City Council on this matter.   Councillor Cheung

Who knows whether anything will come of this, but anything that offers even a glimmer of hope for competition with the Evil Empire Comcast is worth pursuing. Good move, Leland.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager for Community Development to develop a plan for obtaining regular updates from state officials and for keeping the City Council and the surrounding neighborhoods informed on the status of the future use of the courthouse in East Cambridge.   Mayor Maher

Note that on Monday, Nov 14 there will be a City Council Roundtable Meeting with Commissioner Carole Cornelison, Massachusetts Department of Capital Asset Management, and her staff, to discuss plans for the East Cambridge Courthouse site.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to advise the City Council as to the prudence of taking the former NBC Harvard Street lot by eminent domain.   Councillor Reeves

This is long overdue. Take note, however, that this Order does not call for the taking of this property. It merely asks the City Manager to advise the City Council as to the prudence of taking the former NBC Harvard Street lot by eminent domain. – Robert Winters

October 24, 2011

Oct 24, 2011 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights – Pre-Election Posturing

Filed under: 2011 Election,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 1:00 am

Oct 24, 2011 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights – Pre-Election Posturing

Anyone who has attended a recent Cambridge City Council meeting (or any candidate forums) will have noticed the pre-election posturing and efforts to capitalize on controversy. This meeting will most likely bring more of the same. One topic that was at the heart of last week’s posturing is the Bishop Petition that aims to amend the zoning in the vicinity of the Fawcett properties adjacent to the former rail line where the Linear Park now runs in North Cambridge.

Unfinished Business #9. A communication was received from D. Margaret Drury, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sam Seidel, Chair of the Ordinance Committee for a public meeting held on Sept 7, 2011 to consider a petition filed by Julia Bishop et al., to amend Section 17.20 of the Zoning Ordinance – Regulations for Special District 2, located in North Cambridge along Linear Park. Proposed amendments include: deletion of allowed non-residential uses; reduction in allowed Floor Area Ratio; increase in required lot area per dwelling unit; reduction in allowed height; new regulations for fences abutting Linear Park.

The Planning Board deliberated on the Bishop Petition on Tuesday, Oct 18. Though there is not yet a Planning Board report before the City Council, it was clear at that meeting that the Planning Board felt that the current zoning was not broken and that the existing tools were sufficient to shape whatever projects are proposed in that area. At last week’s City Council meeting, the Council did vote to discharge the petition from the Ordinance Committee to bring it before the City Council, but Councillor Kelley’s attempt to also move the petition to a 2nd Reading (a necessary step before advertising it and bringing it to a final vote) were soundly rebuffed 8-1. Though in this pre-election setting many councillors voiced their support of the petition, the rhetoric was much closer to that of the Planning Board in its expression that the best solution should go beyond merely changing the zoning.

Unfinished Business #10. A communication was received from D. Margaret Drury, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sam Seidel, Chair of the Ordinance Committee for a public meeting held on Sept 7, 2011 to consider a petition to amend the Zoning Ordinance filed by Elizabeth deRham et al. The petition proposes an amendment to Section 9.16 of the Zoning which currently provides for a $100 per violation per day fine upon conviction of said violation. The amendment would provide for a fine not to exceed the maximum specified in M.G.L. Ch 40A sec.7, currently $300 per violation per day and would allow the fine to be levied at the discretion of the Superintendent of Buildings. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Oct 31, 2011.

My suspicion is that this petition may ultimately pass – possibly before Election Day. Though the Bishop Petition has drawn the most attention, the deRham Petition was filed at the same time by essentially the same people. Politically, there may be some wisdom in passing this less controversial one before Election Day if indeed the intention is to invest the necessary time to get a better resolution of the underlying issues that motivated the Bishop Petition.

Order #4. That the City of Cambridge hereby joins other communities across the country and calls upon the United States Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification, a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and to restore constitutional rights and fair elections to the people.   Mayor Maher

This may be the first example I’ve witnessed of the Cambridge City Council explicitly endorsing an amendment to the United States Constitution. The merits of the proposal notwithstanding, the suggestion that this will "restore constitutional rights and fair elections to the people" is woefully naive. While many people correctly complain about the corrosive influence of money in politics, where is the civic education that’s necessary for a well-functioning democracy? The national political media features the nitwits on Fox News propagandizing from the Right, and the nitwits on MSNBC propagandizing from the Left. These and talk radio are what passes today as civic education. Meanwhile the average voter is busy watching American Idol while their national elected representatives spend the majority of their time fundraising for their reelection. Focusing on the Citizens United court decision is a distraction from much more significant problems in sustaining democracy both nationally and locally.

Order #5. Amendment to Zoning Ordinances by deleting Section 6.22.2   Councillor Kelley

It’s unfortunate that the text of Councillor Kelley’s Order provides no clue at all as to why this amendment is being proposed other than its claim "to mitigate development and parking pressures in Cambridge neighborhoods." Perhaps Kelley will explain the motivation. A few additional "whereases" in the Order would have helped.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to report back on legal expenses incurred by the City for the Monteiro case and related cases.   Councillor Kelley

A handful of activists and sympathizers have been pushing this as though it is the be-all-end-all issue in the upcoming municipal election. It is not. This Order calls for an accounting of the outside legal expenses for the Monteiro case, etc.; the cost of the appeals; the cost of the settlements related to each of the parties in the original ZuckerNaut of lawsuits; the amount of money paid to Malvina Monteiro; and a report on what issues are still considered confidential and why. Ultimately it will be good to have this full story told. However, the full story should also include the background information on the functioning (or lack of functioning) of the City departments and boards over whom some of the litigants presided. The deluxe edition of the book might also include some of the political motivations as well.

This meeting will also feature a presentation from the Reeves committee (excuse me, the Red Ribbon Commission, etc.) on Central Square – well timed to occur two weeks before the election. Time will tell what the next few years will bring to Central Square. There are some who would choose to turn it into a 24-hour entertainment zone. Others want to build densely on every available parcel. It is doubtful whether the report from the Reeves committee will reveal anything particularly world-shaking. In the end, the good health of Central Square will still be determined by the individuals – residents, business owners, and property owners – who have a personal stake in the Central Square area. – Robert Winters


I received an inquiry over the weekend about incumbent city councillors who were not reelected. Since the beginning of the Plan E era (since 1941), here is the chronology of these unfortunate incumbents:

Candidate 1st elected defeated Notes Candidate 1st elected defeated Notes
Thomas McNamara 1941 1943 after 1st term Daniel Hayes 1957 1969  
William Hogan 1941 1943 after 1st term Henry Owens 1971 1973 after 1st term
James Cassidy 1941 1945   David Wylie 1967 1975  
Thomas McNamara 1941 1947   Daniel Clinton 1967 1977  
James Casey 1945 1947 after 1st term Barbara Ackermann 1967 1977  
Francis L. Sennott 1941 1949   Leonard Russell 1973 1977  
Thomas McNamara 1941 1951 later replaced
Francis Sennott
David Clem 1975 1977 after 1st term
W. Donnison Swan 1945 1953   Mary Ellen Preusser 1977 1979 after 1st term
Chester Higley 1949 1953   Lawrence Frisoli 1977 1979 after 1st term
Marcus Morton, Jr. 1953 1955 also elected
1941, 1943
David Wylie 1967 1983  
Charles Watson 1953 1959   Daniel Clinton 1967 1985  
John D. Lynch 1941 1961   Alfred LaRosa 1985 1985 had replaced
Leonard Russell
Thomas McNamara 1941 1961   Thomas Danehy 1967 1989  
Cornelia Wheeler 1957 1961 later replaced
Guy Belin
Edward Cyr 1989 1993  
Andrew Trodden 1959 1965   Katherine Triantifillou 1993 1999  
Thomas Coates 1963 1967   David Maher 1999 2005 later replaced
Michael Sullivan
William Maher 1965 1967 after 1st term Larry Ward 2009 2009 had replaced
Brian Murphy

October 20, 2011

Proposed State Senate and House Districts for Cambridge

Filed under: elections — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 11:21 am

Proposed State Senate Districts
Proposed State Senate Districts for Cambridge

Proposed State Representative Districts
Proposed State Representative Districts for Cambridge

October 17, 2011

Highlights of the Oct 17, 2011 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: City Council,cycling — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:32 am

Highlights of the Oct 17, 2011 Cambridge City Council agenda

First of all, take note that due to an elevator malfunction at City Hall, the City Council will meet this week at the Fitzgerald Auditorium at CRLS, 459 Broadway. There are a few items this week that should bring out the public. City Manager’s Agenda #7 and City Manager’s Agenda #8 are appropriations of $500,000 and $1,190,000 received by Comcast as part of their 2011 Renewal License. I suppose cash is good even when it comes from the continued domination by the Evil Empire.

Resolution #1. Urge residents to participate in Food Day which will take place on Oct 24, 2011.   Vice Mayor Davis

It’s hard to say what exactly Food Day is and this resolution provides scant advice on how residents should participate other than to eat. Seems like I celebrate Food Day every day.

Resolution #23. Happy 80th Birthday wishes to a special Cantabrigian.   Councillor Decker

I’m guessing that this must be Robert Wolf, husband of Alice Wolf, but there are 30 other registered Cambridge voters who turn 80 this month. Happy birthday to all of you.

Order #3. That the Mayor is hereby requested to work with the City Council to schedule a date for a Roundtable meeting to review the census.   Councillor Reeves

In Cambridge, like anywhere else, there is Inside Baseball – the stuff that serious politicos talk about but which rarely makes it to the local press or into the conversations of most residents. When the census occurred a decade ago and was followed by legislative redistricting, Cambridge ended up being carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey. My recollection is that in order to prevent two popular incumbents in Newton from having to face off against each other, several of the principally Cambridge State Rep. districts were sacrificed and made part of districts that were mainly in neighboring towns. We ended up with 6 districts – most of which were nearly impossible for a Cambridge candidate to win. Only the districts of Representatives Toomey and Wolf were held harmless.

Most consequential was the way that the district formerly held by Saundra Graham, Alvin Thompson, and then Jarrett Barrios was scattered. The Inside Baseball story has it that when it became known that Barrios was going to vacate the seat in order to run for State Senate, it was considered OK to not protect that district and that Barrios did nothing to prevent this. At some level, who cares? We end up with 6 state reps. who we can talk to about relevant Cambridge issues instead of, perhaps, 3 all-Cambridge districts. The bitter issue was that aspiring Cambridge political people who might have sought those state seats found their options limited. There are many insiders who are still angry 10 years later at Jarrett Barrios who they blame for the current configuration.

So now it’s census time again. Word has it that the proposed new districts will be revealed this Tuesday, Oct 18. Will the map be redrawn in a manner that benefits some councillors and others who might consider a career move? Stay tuned….

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to appoint a committee to explore the feasibility of establishing a Cambridge Museum that will serve as repository of Cambridge history.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Cheung and Mayor Maher

There is no doubt that the need exists and will always exist to have secure locations for the wealth of historical documents and artifacts of our very old and historic city. In addition to the Cambridge Historical Commission and the Cambridge Historical Society, we now also have a Cambridge Room at the new library and a staff archivist. This Order proposes to explore the possibility of creating a new Cambridge Museum in which the public may commune with the city’s history. This is unquestionably a good idea in the long term, but can we sustain all of these historical venues? Where would you locate such a new venue and who would be the target audience? In any case, the idea deserves a complete and critical evaluation – even if the end result is better support and enhancement of the existing venues.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to prepare language for an ordinance to ban the use of brakeless bikes in Cambridge.   Vice Mayor Davis

See http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter85/Section11b. In particular:

"Every person operating a bicycle upon a way…shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the special regulations contained in this section, except that: …(3) bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance." and "Every bicycle operated upon a way shall be equipped with a braking system."

Councillor Davis’ Order is already part of state law and is therefore moot. Whether or not it’s enforced and by whom it is enforced are open questions. Thanks to John Allen for the references.

Order #11. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and the Community Development Department to investigate how to make the Follen Street/Little Concord Avenue intersection safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.   Councillor Cheung

Here we go again. The City has made some good decisions regarding bicycle infrastructure and some horrible decisions. The Little Concord Avenue design is poor (see John Allen’s May 16, 2011 critique and his May 20 followup remarks), but not nearly as dreadful as the "cycle track" installed on Vassar Street. The City is now going full speed ahead to implement this same absurd design on Western Avenue (see John Allen’s Oct 27, 2010 remarks and Paul Schimek’s Aug 10, 2010 letter). Pedestrians and cyclists beware.

Order #23. City Council opposition to cuts to Medicare and Medicaid benefits and support of the American Jobs Act.   Councillor Decker

My guess is that two items will bring people out for Public Comment at this meeting. This one will likely bring a few visitors to talk about national politics. The following item (the Bishop Zoning Petition) will likely bring the lion’s share of comment even though it remains in committee and is not before the City Council for action at this meeting.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from D. Margaret Drury, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sam Seidel, Chair of the Ordinance Committee for a public meeting held on Sept 7, 2011 to consider a petition filed by Julia Bishop et al., to amend Section 17.20 of the Zoning Ordinance – Regulations for Special District 2, located in North Cambridge along Linear Park. Proposed amendments include: deletion of allowed non-residential uses; reduction in allowed Floor Area Ratio; increase in required lot area per dwelling unit; reduction in allowed height; new regulations for fences abutting Linear Park.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this petition is that the affected area was already rezoned within the past decade (actually Feb 14, 2000) from an industrial zone (due to it being adjacent to a former railroad line) to create Special District SD-2 primarily for the purpose of encouraging the transition toward residential use. Now that this residential use is part of an active proposal, this petition seeks to significantly reduce its density and the owner claims this will destroy its financial viability. Those advocating for this petition are trying very hard to convince the City Council to act on this petition before the November 8 municipal election. The agenda includes 18 Communications in support of the Bishop Petition.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Transportation, Traffic and Parking Committee for a public meeting held on Oct 6, 2011 to discuss the Austin, Texas "Parking Benefit District Pilot Program" and any other city parking issues.

Contained within this report is a proposal that should infuriate Cambridge residents who own cars and who do not have private driveways or garages. A letter from Chris Summerfield (153 Lexington Ave., but he’s not listed in either the voter database or the 2011 street listing) requests a change to the Traffic, Parking and Transportation regulations that would strictly prohibit parking within 15 feet of the center line of any public or private driveway. This is currently only enforced where necessary and where the vicinity of the driveway is appropriately signed. Councillor Kelley commented that no one is supposed to park ten feet from either side of any driveway – something that may be the practice in Wellesley but one which would eliminate hundreds of parking spaces if enforced in Cambridge.

Though Traffic Director Susan Clippinger stated that you can park 3 feet from the edge of a driveway, everyone knows that this is only enforced where it makes sense to do so. Miraculously, we all seem to get along as long as people can navigate their way in and out of their driveways. Nonetheless Councillor Kelley proposes an Order that would wipe out hundreds of on-street parking opportunities by being overly and unnecessarily restrictive. It’s worth noting that the only people present at this hearing were Councillor Kelley, Sue Clippinger, Deputy City Clerk Donna Lopez, and Chris Summerfield. There were no other elected officials present. – Robert Winters, resident and on-street parker

October 3, 2011

Trucks! – Highlight of the Oct 3, 2011 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:05 am

Highlight of the Oct 3, 2011 City Council agenda

There is nothing especially significant on this week’s agenda and this should be a short meeting. There is one noteworthy item that could potentially impact quality of life and public safety somewhere down the road:

City Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 11-63, regarding the impact of the Batelle Study recommendation on Cambridge and Awaiting Report Item Number 11-110, regarding a report on the impact the proposed alternative route would have on Cambridge Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials traffic.

October 3, 2011

To the Honorable, the City Council:

In response to Awaiting Report Item Number 11-63, regarding the impact of the Batelle Study recommendation on Cambridge and Awaiting Report Item Number 11-110, regarding a report on the impact the proposed alternative route would have on Cambridge Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials traffic, please be advised of the following:

Boston is seeking MassDOT and FHWA permission to ban Hazardous Materials through trucks (the majority are gasoline, diesel and home heating oil carriers) from downtown Boston. They are proposing Rt. 128 as the alternate route. Although the alternative route is a positive, most trucks would use the City of Cambridge as their alternate route rather than Rt. 128. A copy of the City’s response in opposition to the Boston through truck ban is attached.

Very truly yours, Robert W. Healy, City Manager


September 22, 2011

Thomas F. Broderick, P.E.
Acting Chief Engineer
MassDOT
10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160
Boston, MA 02116
ATTN: BOSTON HAZMAT ROUTE

Re: Boston Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials Routing.

Dear Mr. Broderick,

The City of Cambridge has a long history of working to protect residents in Cambridge from the adverse noise impacts of through trucks. These impacts are most adversely felt at night when residents are trying to sleep.

The City’s location is particularly challenging, situated between exit 18 on the Masspike (I-90) where HAZMAT is restricted east of that location and the fuel farms and depots in Chelsea and Revere; the City currently experiences a lot of through trucks and every street in the City has residents living along it.

In 1998 the City did a cordon count around the City including truck counts and recording the hazardous placards. At that time approximately 14,000 trucks passed through the City or about 2,450/week. This is more than twice the 1200 shipments per week that Batelle estimates are traveling through downtown Boston. This volume is likely to have grown. Of the hazardous materials carriers 90% were gasoline, fuel oil and diesel. Of the 25 locations with the highest number of hazardous carriers – 59% were gasoline predominately in trailer trucks and 32% were fuel oil/diesel predominately in single unit trucks. These are exactly the kinds of through trucks that Boston is trying to restrict. We believe that almost every truck that Boston restricts will end up going through the City of Cambridge unless the Cambridge route is also restricted.

The difficulty with Boston’s proposed restriction is that it is addressing a regional issue with only a local solution. Cambridge also experiences a high volume of cut through trucks which we have always advocated should be using I-93/I-95 rather than cutting through the City. However, unless Boston’s through truck restriction also restricts through trucks on the alternate routes through Cambridge that were studied, we cannot support Boston’s restriction.

We support their recommended alternative route of I-93/I-95. However, we do not believe the trucks will divert that far out of their way. The Batelle study showed that the Cambridge route did not meet the criteria for an acceptable alternate route. The Cambridge routes have more nighttime residents along them than any other route and are no safer than the route through Boston. The alternate route designation has no control over the route the trucks will choose and cannot prevent them from shifting their through route into Cambridge. Boston’s requested truck restriction does not offer a through truck restriction in Cambridge which is required if trucks are truly going to be diverted to I-93/I-95.

Through trucks volumes, especially the gasoline and fuel/diesel carriers are currently using both a routing through downtown Boston and a. routing through Cambridge. A restriction in Boston may improve public safety there but it will dramatically degrade public safety in the City of Cambridge.

Cambridge had the courage to provide a signed truck route through the City. We have tried to be reasonable and also protect residents from the adverse noise impact of nighttime trucks. If the Boston restriction is approved, the safety and quality of life for Cambridge residents would be sacrificed.

The Batelle study shows that alternative routes 2 and 5 through Cambridge do not meet the criteria for an acceptable and safe alternate route. The acceptable alternative route is I-93/I-95. However, nothing is offered that would restrict those trucks from using Cambridge as alternate route instead. The City of Cambridge is strongly opposed to Boston’s currently proposed restriction because a through truck restriction in downtown Boston would not divert trucks to the proposed alternate route (I-93/I-95) but would instead divert them through the City of Cambridge.

Very truly yours, Robert W. Healy, City Manager

The letter from Mr. Healy really says all that needs to be said. A hazardous materials truck ban in Boston could easily lead to Cambridge being a preferred cut-through – unless appropriate steps are taken to prevent this. One need only look to the fact that when the Prudential Center was built over the Massachusetts Turnpike Extension, such trucks were banned on that road, and Cambridge has been dealing with the consequences of their exiting at the Allston-Brighton tolls ever since. – RW

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