WAC/FOTQ Meeting 8-12-2020

Agenda for discussion August 12th, 7pm  

  1. Purpose of Meeting:  Review and understand various options proposed for Quinobequin, evaluate and prioritize. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is looking at various proposals for Quinobequin road. Here is a link to a presentation that was given last month: Concepts and Designs.
  2. Welcome and quick survey of familiarity of the trail: How many have walked a portion of the trail, the whole trail from route 9 to Varick Road.
  3. Who is here; Ruth Balzer, John Mordes, WAC, FOTQ, Andreae Downs, Bill Humphrey, Neighbor Reps, TBD
  4. Two-minute overview of trail and Hemlock Gorge - John Mordes
  5. Ruth Balzer: Her activities on behalf of the Gorge and the trail, and what can be expected
  6. Review of Trail PDFs (optional)   PowerPoint to address the trail   
  7. Review of Sidewalk PDFs (optional)  Pictures of some of the challenges for upgrading the sidewalk.  
  8. Review of short survey results  Survey
  9. Quinobequin the street and bikes  - Andreae Downs
  10. Neighbors and related activities, the whole system
  11. Group discussion: Options and Priorities
Meeting Date: 
Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 7:00pm

Notes & Minutes

 

Attendees:

  • State Rep: Ruth Balser
  • Lisa Sears from Senator Cindy Creem's Office
  • Friends of Hemlock Gorge, John Mordes Pres, Lee Fisher
  • WAC/FOTQ/WIS/Bike Newton: Chris Pitts, Rena Getz, Sallee Lipshutz, Bob Jampol, Thomas Elkind, Maureen Meagher, Barbara Brustowicz
  • City Councilors: Andreae Downs, Bill Humphrey
  • Riverside Greenway working group Project Mgr: Ted Chapman
  • Residents: Carol Laibson, Tim Leary, Margie Arons-Barron, Chrystalla Martin, Teddy Wong, Sherie Heywood, Nancy Mansbach, Carole Grossman,  Judy Kohn,  Cathy D Wong,  Eric Jacunski,  Jeff Gelles,  Robert Ellertsen, Tanya Karpiak, Daniel Brody, David Martin, Lois Levin, Fran Godine

Purpose of Meeting:  Review and understand various options proposed for Quinobequin, evaluate, and prioritize. DCR will hold a meeting later in the year and this meeting is in part to prepare and organize. Link to a presentation that was given last month: Concepts and Designs by VHB contracted by DCR

Major Takeaway: Organize steps with precise description/design and consensus from the community - "Shovel-Ready Project" 

·       Cleanup trail by trimming back overgrowth - volunteers
·       Install small boardwalks for trail at flood portions - volunteers with funding
·       Trial of shared street concept for Quinobequin with striping and signage - DCR
·       Install Speed Indicator to encourage slowing of traffic - DOT/DCR
·       Clear sidewalk on north/housing side - landscaping and grades will need to be leveled and cleared - DOT/DCR
·       Examine sidewalk installation potential for pond portion of Quinobequin - DCR
·       Install sidewalk from Radcliffe to Route 16 unopposed - DCR
·       11 curb cuts and striping for crosswalks for the length of Quinobequin and joining Hemlock Gorge - DOT/DCR
·       Examine installing walkable boardwalk under Rte. 9 joining Quinobequin to Hemlock Gorge - DOT/DCR

Minutes:

DCR has jurisdiction over the road and the sidewalks the length of Quinobequin.
DCR had hired engineers and have presented an analysis in this slide deck. by VHB contracted by DCR

Representative Balser explained her approach to getting support through "vehicles": earmarks, appropriations, bond bills - authorization requiring additional steps from the administration. Got $50K to replace the roof of Stone building. $50K for study for improving the trail along Quinobequin. DCR used those funds to hire consultants to do the study and gather community and expert input. Unfortunately, at this time for various reasons including COVID, there is no money committed to implementing any of the results at this time and is unlikely to come through in the near term. However, having plans/recommendations/consensus in place, "shovel ready" put her and Senator Cindy Creem in a much better place to find money to get this to happen.

·       How many have walked a portion of the trail? - Everyone, slightly fewer have walked the "extremities" near route 9 and 16.

Sidewalk, Curb cuts and Crosswalks

1.       John Mordes overview of sidewalk  Pictures of some of the challenges for upgrading the sidewalk.
2.       Sallee: Radcliffe to Rte 9 is a blind curve - safety hazard. Approves of sidewalk and crosswalks but suggests not touching the fence portion by the pond.
3.       Maureen observes that people are pushed into the road at landscaped or untended frontages.
4.       Marjorie agrees with Sallee and believes trimming/landscaping to allow passage would be the easiest and first solution to bettering access.
5.       Lee Fisher asserts sidewalks have ADA requirements and would require 11 curb cuts but suggests the riverside might be an easier placement for a sidewalk  
6.       Wooden fence borders pond at the road is the most significant challenge for putting in a sidewalk. Sallee Lipshutz: City restored pond - not artificial - after it had been rerouted.
7.       Barbara Brustowicz added this in an email after the meeting:  

In the ’70s, the City cut off the water that supplied the pond, this was done as part of an effort to alleviate flooding on upper Chestnut St.  What used to be a natural underground spring and runoff source of water that fed the pond was rerouted into a large conduit that now runs underground down Tamworth Rd., through the side and back yards of several properties abutting the pond and empties out under Quinobequin Rd. and out into the conservation area as a steady flow, ultimately making its way to the Charles River. There is also a smaller conduit that empties out from the pond and runs under Quinobequin Rd. adjacent to the large conduit that runs down from Chestnut St. The water level in the pond tends to run low and the water exiting the pond runs out as a slow but steady trickle, but there have been a couple of times since we moved to our property 18 years ago when during a very rainy period the pond level rises precipitously high and the runoff through the culvert gushes out into the conservation area where the proposed trail will be located.

 

pond.jpg

 

Slowing Speeding Vehicles and Bicycle and Pedestrian safety:

1.       Carol and Sallee assert there are large trucks speeding on Quinobequin which is dangerous.
2.       John asks if cameras can be installed as a deterrent to speeding. Massachusetts does not currently have legislation allowing cameras to catch speeders.
3.       Bob Jampol: Advid "brave cyclist,” says even for him there is the challenge of speeding traffic and cars passing in opposite directions squeezing out bikes.  

4.       Ted Chapman noted that his group recognized there are different types of cyclists: road - as fast as cars, and trail riders. 
5.       Andreae Downs presents the MAPC's Advisory Bike Lane concept. With 24 ft to work with, the potential exists to create bike lanes and can help slow auto traffic and make it safer. One of the main characteristics is no centerline. more is here
 

advisorylane.png

 

Strategy for Moving Forward
Ted Chapman explains that his group has been successful raising $10M in funding from Mass DOT and $3M from Mark Development. Their project will connect Lyon's Field in Auburndale to Lower Falls then to Quinobequin via the Leo G. Martin Golf Course. Also, foot trails - Pony Truss trail with 85' boardwalk. USDA Forest Service trail guidelines for accessibility standards.  Mass DOT requires accessibility standards, so they have been adhering to Shared Used standards: a 10' wide path for pedestrians and bicycles with acceptable grades. There are cases when the trail must rely on alternate streets and sidewalks to connect. He strongly advises getting consensus on steps.

 

This is from an email 8-18-2020 Herb Nolan, Executive Director of the Solomon Foundation whose organization was NOT the consultant hired by the DCR but has championed various road transformations: www.solomonfoundation.org
 

Earlier in the spring we were asked to give some thought to how one might temporarily adjust the traffic flows to allow the use of Quinobequin for walking and cycling during the pandemic while allowing local traffic access at slow speeds.  We call this a Shared Street and there are lots of examples now that are being installed in other towns and cities which Allison could share with you.  The DCR closed some parkways to through traffic entirely but not Quinobequin Road for some reason.  With I-95 parallel to Quinobequin why would one need to maintain Quinobequin as a cut through?  We think you could safely slow down traffic on Quinobequin and discourage cut-through traffic with no virtual impact on regional traffic patterns.    If the pandemic is still with us in the spring, as we expect it will be, perhaps the DCR could be persuaded to revisit this idea if the neighbors and the city asked with a united voice.   A temporary closure over a weekend or over several weeks would involve a couple of dozen street barriers and signs to slow and redirect traffic.  We'd be happy to help if the DCR were willing to try this.  Below is a diagram we produced in April.  A more definitive plan and list of materials and costs would be needed if this were to move forward.  A road closure would certainly get more people biking and maybe even walking from nearby neighborhoods but the vast majority of users could be from just up the street in the Waban neighborhood.  Best of luck with the Quinobequin design process.

 

200410 Quinobequin shared street proposal.jpg

 

 

Review of Survey

 

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