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Design a Better Boston Are you disappointed with the state of Boston's current architecture/development? Think you have a better idea? Post it here.

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Old 11-12-2011, 04:35 PM   #1
Kahta
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NW Boston Improvements

http://g.co/maps/gvsp6

Also, from another post: http://g.co/maps/qpbth

Basically the goal is to encourage demand for livable/walkable areas in Nashua, Manchester, Lowell, and Lawrence. At the same time, the access to cheap land in the newly built highways will encourage development similar to the 128 corridor. HSR access to Boston and the I-93 corridor will allow for reverse commuting and drawing talent from the 128 area.
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Old 11-13-2011, 11:57 AM   #2
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Re: NW Boston Improvements

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Originally Posted by Kahta View Post
Basically the goal is to encourage demand for livable/walkable areas in Nashua, Manchester, Lowell, and Lawrence.
You must be an engineer because only a traffic engineer would ever try to create a "livable/walkable" neighborhood by building MORE highways.

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At the same time, the access to cheap land in the newly built highways will encourage development similar to the 128 corridor.
How is this not a complete contradiction from your previous statement?

If you build more highways there will be more sprawl. If you build less highways, more rail, and slower roads it will encourage walking/biking. You can't have it both ways.
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Old 11-13-2011, 01:50 PM   #3
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Re: NW Boston Improvements

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You must be an engineer because only a traffic engineer would ever try to create a "livable/walkable" neighborhood by building MORE highways.



How is this not a complete contradiction from your previous statement?

If you build more highways there will be more sprawl. If you build less highways, more rail, and slower roads it will encourage walking/biking. You can't have it both ways.
Live in a walkable area and then drive to work, similar to Waltham, Watertown, Arlington, etc. This was mentioned in another thread.

Building less highways inside Boston (cancelled Route 2, 3, 16, I-95, SW Expressway) didn't discourage car ownership, it just made life inconvenient for the people that live in those areas that highways weren't built.
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:40 AM   #4
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Re: NW Boston Improvements

But how does building highways encourage walkable areas? You can obviously argue the convenience of a car and a highway, and that seems to be the idea behind your improvements, but how does this in any way make anything more walkable? You can like the idea of living in a walkable suburb and then having the ability to drive to work, but all you've addressed is adding the convenience to someone's drive.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:07 AM   #5
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Re: NW Boston Improvements

Most if not all of Boston's suburbs have walkable centers - a vastly different development pattern than Orlando, Burbank, or Vegas. Also, a good number of these walkable centers have Commuter Rail.

One of the reasons why we don't have as much tract-housing sprawl is because we have viable housing in the actual city in livable, walkable neighborhoods on rapid transit lines. If Roxbury, Brookline, Allston, and Cambridge had been bisected by a highway you can bet that the quality of life in those areas would decline and many of the residents would move to sprawly burbs as the clear alternative.

Yes, new highways might make things a bit easier in already walkable suburbs. But, the devastation they could inflict on the actual urban area would be a regional disaster. We should be thankful we have as few highways as we do.
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Old 11-15-2011, 04:13 PM   #6
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Re: NW Boston Improvements

Living in East Lexington -- NW of the Hub of the HUB (defined as something from the Boston Stone [original], Center of the State House dome [traditional] or Center of the Main Dome atop Building 10 at MIT [more realistic]) I feel as if I have the proper perspective on this

I enjoy the ability to walk 10 minutes to Arlington Heighs at take the T directly to Alewife or to Lexington Center or to walk somewhat less and take any one of 3 other T routes to either Harvard or Alewife depending on the route

I enjoy walking down the hill and finding a strip of shops and eating spots on Mass Ave where I can meet many of my immediate needs. By walking 10 minutes to Arlington Heights I can find nearly all the rest of things -- enabling me to be car-free if I was so required

I enjoy walking in the woods and communing with nature and other dog walkers wihout hearing or seeing much of immediate civilization other than glimpses of some back yards (in the summer when the leaves are dense). from the top of my hill I can look over the roofs of near by houses and see hills in Winchester

What could have beeb better -- If NIMBYs hadn't blocked the Red LIne from being extended to Rt-128 -- i'd have a 2 seat ride to the MFA, MOS, Symphony Hall, Gov't Center, and Logan as well as a 1 seat confortable trip to Lexington Center, Harvard Sq,, MIT -- i miss not having this especially on those winter days when my car is in the shop and I have to wait on a street corner for a BUS

Realisticly -- what could be better -- Extend the Red Line ifnot as cut and coverunder the minuteman Bike path-- Then as something like a modern version of the Mattapan High Speed Trolley Line or even a monorail -- built up the median of RT-2 -- possibly elevated -- from Alewife out to a large parking garage & TOD complex built on & near to the Lexington recycling center on Hartwell Ave (would need a new interchange on Rt-128) -- This is less desireable than the Bikeway ROW as it passes too-far from Arlington Heights and Lexigton Center to be walkable although the nearest station would right near to me

Te justification for whythe Bikeway shouldbe dug up is that Arlington (more) and Lexington (less) have been encoraging mixed-use and multi-family housing along the Mass Ave coridor -- a kind of mini "High Spine" avoiding the most historic venues -- there is plenty of opportunity to build relatively densely on the site of Lexington Toyota, Mirack and others in Arlington

Finally -- on the matter of highways -- RT-2 should be limited access out to I-495 and I-290 should be completed to somewhere around Waltham / Weston to enable more intensivedevelopment due west of Waltham / Weston (limited today by Rt-20)
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:18 PM   #7
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Re: NW Boston Improvements

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shepard View Post
Most if not all of Boston's suburbs have walkable centers - a vastly different development pattern than Orlando, Burbank, or Vegas. Also, a good number of these walkable centers have Commuter Rail.

One of the reasons why we don't have as much tract-housing sprawl is because we have viable housing in the actual city in livable, walkable neighborhoods on rapid transit lines. If Roxbury, Brookline, Allston, and Cambridge had been bisected by a highway you can bet that the quality of life in those areas would decline and many of the residents would move to sprawly burbs as the clear alternative.
That may be true, but on the flip side that is also a reason why density outside of the Boston core falls off a cliff. Cities in the Northeast have denser cores but have much, much lower density suburbs. The core that Boston has is irreplaceable but the lack of more even density on the fringes and outside of 128 means that the net effect and cost to society is likely comparable -- as is evidenced by the poorly maintained infrastructure across the entire region.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:16 PM   #8
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Re: NW Boston Improvements

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Originally Posted by Shepard View Post
If Roxbury, Brookline, Allston, and Cambridge had been bisected by a highway you can bet that the quality of life in those areas would decline and many of the residents would move to sprawly burbs as the clear alternative.
The SW Expressway would have prevented a decline in those areas (dorchester, roxbury) that prior to WWII were solid middle class to Upper-middle class by allowing easy access to 128 and downtown that the I-90 corridor and Brookline (car or transit) both have. Arlington and the Route 2 Corridor undoubtedly benefit from the highway that bisects that area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin7
But how does building highways encourage walkable areas? You can obviously argue the convenience of a car and a highway, and that seems to be the idea behind your improvements, but how does this in any way make anything more walkable? You can like the idea of living in a walkable suburb and then having the ability to drive to work, but all you've addressed is adding the convenience to someone's drive.
As someone else said, there are walkable town centers throughout the Boston suburbs where people drive to work. Concord, Acton, Westford, Groton, and even some former mill towns that were among the most economically depressed in the state-- Haverhill, Lowell, Lawrence (to a degree), and Nashua have seen revived futures because of the proximity to highways, especially since the Route 3 upgrade.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:52 PM   #9
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Re: NW Boston Improvements

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Originally Posted by omaja View Post
That may be true, but on the flip side that is also a reason why density outside of the Boston core falls off a cliff. Cities in the Northeast have denser cores but have much, much lower density suburbs. The core that Boston has is irreplaceable but the lack of more even density on the fringes and outside of 128 means that the net effect and cost to society is likely comparable -- as is evidenced by the poorly maintained infrastructure across the entire region.
Omaja -- the density in the inner, outer and exurbs is a result of early history

In most of the country the cities were seeded on a lake, river, rail line and then they grew into wildernerss or sometimes large farms and ranches -- but in either case outside the cities you had unincorporated territory -- within a county boundary -- buth that's it -- much of Texas is still like that -- e.g. about 3 miles west of where I used to live in Austin Texas was the City Line -- if you headed west from there aside from some resorts on Lake Travis, small towns and a few small cities fairly close to Austin (e.g. Fredricksburg) -- you will not hit another significant size city until you reach El Paso 400 miles away -- similarly go east and nothing much until you hit Houston 200 miles away

The reason is that as development occured in unincorporated areas - the existing cities used their powers of annexation to incorporate the developments into the city limits

In contrast in the Northeast in general and New England in specific -- settlement was very very rapid -- almost Big Biang style explosive spreading out from the point of contact -- e.g. Plymouth filled the county in a decade or two, -- simiarlly with Boston and Cambridge, Salem and Newburry Port and within a decade or three you had a map of incorporated towns -- approximately one 1/2 days walk or so apppart on the rudiments of what would become Lexington-Waltham St, Lexington-woburn St., etc.

fromthe Wiki article
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexington,_Massachusetts

"...Lexington was first settled circa 1642 as part of Cambridge, Massachusetts. What is now Lexington was then incorporated as a parish, called Cambridge Farms, in 1691. This allowed them to have a separate church and minister, but were still under jurisdiction of the Town of Cambridge. Lexington was incorporated as a separate town in 1713. It was then that it got the name Lexington..."

Just to the east of Lexington -- Arlington was settled as a village called Menotomy in 1635 again as part of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Nearly 200 years later, Menotomy and additional land which later became the town of Belmont, and some land from Charletown was incorporated on February 27, 1807 as West Cambridge -- -later to be renamed Arlington after the Civil War National Cemetary.

Land to the west of Lexington -- today's Bedford had been granted to John Wintrop first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay in 1637 -- setlement began on this land in 1640

Further west of Bedford -- Concord was settled even earlier in 1635 when some of the original English settlers purchased land from an Indian tribe

So in the 30 years after the founding of Boston there were people farming and living nearly 20 miles west of the original setltlement site -- by the time Boston was 100 years old and still confined by its original geography -- incorporated towns with their own governmnts nearly surrounded Boston

of course later some of these communities would be annexed by Boston (Hyde Park, Dorcheter, Roxbury, Charlestown) -- but equally well establised citees such as Quincy and Cambridge would not be anexed and would force Boston to stop growing out

In the mid 19 th Century when the railroad and then in the late 19 Century when street car lines grew out from Boston they together served as the arteries of the first commuter suburbs -- collecting people living along the tracks and most importantly around the town centers where the commuter rail stations were located. Where there weren't any tracks -- farms persisted until the 2nd half of the 20th century when cars and the web of roads freed people from having to live next to rails -- then Zip, Zoom in another decade or two all the farms got subdivided into the suburban sprawl 1/2 acre single family housing + low density shops and office parks.

Some redensification has occured with the recent 2nd (and 3rd gen in some cases) redevelopment of the original 1 story indistrial parks built along and near to RT-128 (e.g. Nordblom original NW Park in Burlington) and some has happened in Lexington Center and the other town centers in the area.

So now just inside and outside of Rt-128 we have a mostly radial and some crcumferential pattern of clumped development with some density superimposed on a mostly low density suburban background

However a lot of this development in the Lexington area is not particularly close to existing rail ROW -- making doing much about it -- somewhat problematical
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