MyRWA to Concentrate on Climate Change, Adaptation

MyRWA to Concentrate on Climate Change, Adaptation

On the heels of record-setting flood events in January and March 2018, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) announced today that it is updating its core mission and resources to help municipalities manage the extreme weather associated with climate change.

“Slowing down climate change is all about managing energy,” said Patrick Herron, MyRWA’s executive director.  “Adapting to climate change is all about managing water—both flooding and drought.  Water is something that we have thought about for over four decades.”

The Mystic River watershed spans 21 cities and towns from Woburn through Revere.  This spring, MyRWA staff met with nearly fifty state and local stakeholders to best understand how a regional watershed association could help municipalities become more resilient to flooding, drought and heat.

“We heard over and over from cities and towns that they can’t manage flooding from just within their municipal boundaries,” explained Herron. “Stormwater flooding in Medford for example, has its origins in upstream communities.  Coastal storms below the Amelia Earhart Dam threaten both New England’s largest produce distribution center and Logan Airport’s jet fuel supply.”

“We’re concerned about the neighborhoods and residents living in the shadows of massive petroleum storage tanks and other industries which are projected to be severely impacted by climate change.  When the flood waters and chemicals reach homes, how will our communities be protected?” asked Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots in Chelsea.  “We’ve seen neighborhoods in Louisiana, Puerto Rico and Houston be decimated.  Chelsea and East Boston could be next.”

Based on this feedback, MyRWA requested and received a $115,000 grant from the Barr Foundation that will allow the non-profit to work with municipalities, businesses and community organizations on an action-oriented, regional, climate resilience strategy for the Mystic River Watershed.  This grant will allow MyRWA to hire Julie Wormser to lead this new program.

“The Barr Foundation’s climate resilience grantmaking has historically focused on Boston. Yet, we know climate change is no respecter of city boundaries. If some act in isolation, neighboring communities could actually become more vulnerable,” said Mary Skelton Roberts, co-director of Barr’s Climate Program. “It is our privilege to support MyRWA’s efforts to advance solutions at a more expansive, watershed scale.”

As executive director of The Boston Harbor Association, Wormser was instrumental in in drawing attention to Boston’s need to prepare for coastal flooding from extreme storms and sea level rise.  She coauthored Preparing for the Rising Tide and Designing With Water and co-led the Boston Living with Water international design competition with the City of Boston and Boston Society of Architects.  She will join MyRWA as its deputy director beginning July 1st.

“Three of the US cities most engaged in climate preparedness—Boston, Cambridge and Somerville—are located in the Mystic River Watershed,” said Wormser.  “This grant will allow us collectively to share information and lessons learned since Superstorm Sandy with lower-resourced municipalities.  By working regionally and with the State, we can also create multiple benefit solutions such as riverfront greenways that double as flood protection.  It’s very inspiring.”

Read More

Hotel Study Indicates Chelsea Could Support an Upscale Property

Hotel Study Indicates Chelsea Could Support an Upscale Property

A long-awaited hotel study commissioned by the City has been completed and indicates that the market in Chelsea could support and ‘upper upscale’ property if one were proposed.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino commissioned the study last year when a hotel was proposed on Second Street, and it wasn’t certain if the market in Chelsea could bear more hotel rooms coming online.

The study was done by the Pinnacle Advisory Group, and they indicated that a seventh hotel property in Chelsea could be successful – perhaps one that is nicer than all of the others.

“Considering the City’s current supply of hotels, we believe a new hotel, the City’s seventh, could be developed as a 125 to 150 room, nationally branded hotel,” read the report. “While we would recommend an upscale or upper upscale hotel product…we believe the ultimate product should be determined by the developer.”

By contrast, the Homewood Suites and Residence Inn in Chelsea are considered upscale. The Hilton Boston Logan and Hyatt Boston Harbor – both at the airport – are considered in the upper upscale class.

“I’m not surprised by the findings,” said Ambrosino. “The one thing we wanted to find out is if the city could support another hotel development. The answer is yes, particularly more hotels on the waterfront. That’s something I think we could try to encourage.”

He said he was also encouraged by the suggestion that the market could bear a more luxurious product than the very nice hotels already in Chelsea.

“It’s one notch up from the Homewood Suites, which is a nice hotel, and that’s a move forward for the city,” he said. “Whether we can attract that or not, I don’t know, but that would be our goal – especially something with a nice restaurant included.”

The study also indicates the best areas for another hotel would be on the east side of the Chelsea Creek and at the Mystic Mall.

“We believe the City’s seventh hotel should be developed in conjunction with support amenities in a location proximate to Boston Logan Airport and the new MBTA Silver Line,” read the report.

The study was forwarded to the City Council on Monday for review. No new proposals have been forwarded, thought the Residence Inn on has proposed an expansion at its existing property.

Read More

A Silver Line-ing: First Rides on the SL-3 Line Begin Saturday

A Silver Line-ing: First Rides on the SL-3 Line Begin Saturday

The MBTA is gearing up for the big rollout of its Silver Line SL-3 expansion on Saturday, April 21, as operations on the expansion of the bus rapid transit look to change the landscape, and the commute, of the City.CHEL_20180419_A1

For the first time ever, “can’t get there from here” territory like South Station will be only 27 minutes from the Mystic Mall on the new SL-3 buses, according to information from the MBTA.

“SL3 will make commuting to the Airport, Seaport, or South Station better for anyone who rides bus routes 111, 112, 114, 116, 117, anyone travelling on the Blue Line, or anyone who is driving,” read information materials from the T. “Right now, your commute might be pretty complicated. If you’re going to the South Station area, you probably start out on a bus, and then make a few transfers to get to the Red Line. If you drive, you deal with a lot of traffic, and pay for tolls, and parking.”

On Wednesday, MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez was out to Chelsea to get a sneak peek of the new service, taking the SL-3 from Airport Station through to the new Chelsea Station. Deputy City Manager Ned Keefe accompanied him, as well as several MBTA officials.

The new SL-3 service will operate in Chelsea between the hours of

5 a.m. (Monday through Friday) to 12:55 a.m. On Saturdays, it opens at 5:30 a.m. and Sundays at 6:30 a.m.

Service will run every 10 minutes at peak periods, which are between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Service runs every 12 to 15 minutes in off-peak and weekend times.

It will operate in Chelsea out of three brand new, heated stations – complete with covered bike racks at each. The stations are:

  • Chelsea Station – 174 Everett Ave.
  • Bellingham Station – 225 Arlington St.
  • Box District Station – 200 Highland St.
  • Eastern Avenue Station – 40 Eastern Ave.

As part of the project as well, the 111 bus will be enhanced.

It is expected that of the 11,700 riders of the 111 bus, some 2,000 will switch to the SL-3 service, reducing the crowds on the 111 somewhat.

Additionally, the MBTA plans to work with the City of Chelsea to improve the 111 bus with potential dedicated bus lanes and signal optimization.

Read More

Six Months Later, Puerto Rico Still Devastated by Hurricane Maria

Six Months Later, Puerto Rico Still Devastated by Hurricane Maria

Six months after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, many areas of the country outside the tourist hot spots are still in crumbling disrepair – some without electricity since the first storm, Hurricane Irma – and residents of the island nation that is closely tied to Chelsea continue to suffer.CHEL_20180412_A1

Record photographer Keiko Hiromi traveled to Puerto Rico in late March to survey the damage, having followed the story last fall when Chelsea galvanized to provide thousands of pounds and multiple truckloads of donations to help relieve the situation.

Residents of Chelsea are closely tied to Puerto Rico, with thousands here having been born there or having had relatives emigrate here from the island.

Hiromi reported that upon landing at the airport, things looked normal, but upon leaving the population centers, she discovered homes in much the same shape as the day after the devastation.

“When I landed at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport on March 21, everything looked normal as if nothing had ever happened,” she said. “As I spent five days travelling through Puerto Rico, sometimes away from the functioning tourist areas, I witnessed Puerto Rico in recovery. Many raw scars were still unmended: debris on roads, houses without roofs. Yet, at the same time, I encountered the faces of resilient, strong, patient people, compassionate for each other.”

At the Chelsea Collaborative, Director Gladys Vega and Program Manager Sylvia Ramirez were not surprised at what Hiromi found. Both said they are worried that too many have forgotten about the disaster despite the fact that little has improved for many there.

“I knew that the island was going to be devastated, and at the same time I am shocked how citizens of the United States are so ignored,” she said. “In the next few months, the hurricane season is going to be starting again, and Puerto Rico is nowhere near able to take their normal storm season. One thing I was extremely sad about is we are not getting any help. The news has forgotten about Puerto Rico and moved on to other things. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico is still in devastation. People are suffering, they have no housing and they’re hungry.”

Ramirez said she feels the same way.

After the devastation, she headed up the Collaborative’s efforts to provide aid to those in Puerto Rico, and also to welcome families coming to Chelsea from the island for refuge.

She said much remains the same there, but that story isn’t getting out.

“I think the lack of coverage in the news doesn’t really portray the reality of what’s happening there,” she said. “People go on with their lives and they focus on their kids, they go to work, Christmas came and went. It’s no longer a priority because it’s not in the news. Our plan here in Chelsea is to do another call for action in June or July to bring attention to the situation. The worry for everyone is that nothing is being done to prepare for this year’s hurricane season.

“People go on with their lives, but there are still parts of the island absolutely devastated and nobody is talking about that,” she continued.

That is exactly what Hiromi reported firsthand.

In Toa Baja, just outside of San Juan Hiromi found Miguel Anjel Mericado at his home. His home still had a collapsed roof that had not been fixed and was open to the elements. Beams rested on the floor and electricity was spotty. He collected items that he could find in order to continue the efforts of fixing the home.

Hiromi also visited Yabucoa, where Maria first made landfall.

In Vega Alta, a rural community in the mountains, she visited a family that had no electricity since Hurricane Irma – the first storm to hit Puerto Rico last year even before Hurricane Maria.

Herberto Rivera, a school bus driver there, had been powering the family home with a generator they purchased months ago. They hoped that power would come back to the community before the next hurricane season.

In Chelsea, Ramirez said they are currently working with 55 families who came to the city after the hurricane for refuge, with 18 of them still in FEMA hotels. Statewide, she said, there are nearly 700 families in hotels who arrived after the storm, and 530 are in FEMA hotel rooms. The dire need is that FEMA will stop paying for those rooms on April 20. Already 123 families have used up the FEMA payments and are being paid for by the Red Cross.

She said they are still collecting furniture for those refugees moving into apartments, and they are still trying to secure more stable living conditions.

At the same time, the identical fight continues on the island of Puerto Rico.

“There are still a lot of people without electricity and with blue tarps on their roofs,” said Ramirez. “That’s the reality.”

Read More

New Early Morning MBTA Bus Routes Started this Week

New Early Morning MBTA Bus Routes Started this Week

New, early morning bus routes on several area MBTA lines began on Sunday, April 1, for a one-year early morning pilot program on the routes.

The pilot will be on the MBTA’s busiest key bus routes serving neighborhoods within the immediate Boston core traveling to downtown Boston, the Seaport, and key stops in between beginning as early as 3:20 a.m. Serving residents who start their work day before many people’s alarms ring, the new routes are part of the MBTA’s continued commitment to expanding offerings for those riders who need them most.

There are nine routes on the pilot, and four of them serve the areas of Everett, Chelsea, Revere, East Boston and downtown Boston. Those routes in this area include:

  • Route 104 – Lynn Street Revere via Broadway Everett to Sullivan Square.
  • Route 109 – serving Broadway Everett.
  • Route 117 – serving Wonderland Revere to East Boston, via Revere, Chelsea and Eastie.
  • Route 455 – Salem to Wonderland Revere.

“The T’s expansion into early morning bus service will provide an important opportunity for the changing needs of Massachusetts’ workforce,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Throughout this one-year pilot, the MBTA will be able to gather important information about changes in bus ridership and analyze that data to better inform future transportation plans around the Greater Boston area.”

“The launch of early morning service demonstrates that the MBTA is acting on its top priority to put the needs of its customers first,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “This new transit option will serve workers who must start their day earlier than most. Other commuters and city residents depend upon these essential workers and the MBTA’s ability to get them to their work places safely and on time.”

The changes also include additional service on existing routes during pre-dawn hours. Some routes will extend beyond their normal end points during the early morning to provide direct service to downtown Boston and Logan Airport, allowing customers to reach those destinations even before trains start running. Early morning service is already a part of the MBTA’s bus service on several routes, but these added services represent earlier and/or extended routes on several bus lines. This expansion is the result of a year-long ridership study and planning initiative at the T, which resulted in the identification of key routes where early morning demand is heaviest.

Read More

Silver Line Stations Come Together, Service to Begin in April 2018

Silver Line Stations Come Together, Service to Begin in April 2018

By Seth Daniel

The new Chelsea Station behind the Market Basket on Everett Avenue is nearly completed now, with a goal of opening up service at the four new stations on the new SL3 line in April.

The new Chelsea Station behind the Market Basket on Everett Avenue is nearly completed now, with a goal of opening up service at the four new stations on the new SL3 line in April.

A projected 19 minute ride with no transfers from downtown Chelsea to the Seaport in Boston is but months away as the MBTA puts the finishing touches on four stations and the dedicated busway in Chelsea’s new Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line – which will be known as SL3.

Already, a great amount of excitement has built throughout the community as the stations begin to look like finished products and the lettering denoting ‘Eastern Avenue’ and ‘Chelsea’ have been affixed to those stations. A spokesman for the MBTA said the T is excited to start service in April.

“The MBTA and MassDOT are very excited to be just months away from introducing Bur Rapid Transit service for customers traveling to and from Chelsea,” said Joe Pesaturo, for the MBTA. “The MBTA anticipates beginning Silver Line Gateway service in the early spring of next year. The existing Silver Line in Boston has been very popular since its launch because of the frequent levels of service and increased capacity. MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez is looking forward to a celebration in the spring in Chelsea to mark the start of service.”

The completion of the four new BRT stations and the dedicated busway will conclude Phase 1 of the Silver Line Gateway expansion project – which has essentially brought the Silver Line from Logan Airport over to Chelsea. The new Chelsea service, however, will not go to the airport and the SL3 line will bypass the airport with a stop at the Blue Line Train Station where airport shuttles can be taken to terminals.

In documents presented to the MBTA Board last summer, the new service expects to have a total daily ridership of 8,730 people, with new transit trips being 2,500 (meaning people that will use the service who now do not use the MBTA).

At peak, it is estimated there will be 22 BRT buses on all three Silver Line routes, and that the SL3 Chelsea wait times will be around 10-12 minutes at peak times and 12-15 minutes at off-peak times.

MBTA estimates show that currently to get to the World Trade Center stop in the Seaport from downtown Chelsea takes 37 minutes and requires two transfers. That would be paired down to 19 minutes and no transfers on the new SL3 line.

To go from the airport to the World Trade Center station now takes 20 minutes with one transfer. The SL3 line would take seven minutes and no transfers.

The entire first phase of the Silver Line Gateway project cost $46.5 million and included rebuilding the Washington Avenue bridge, constructing a 1.1 mile dedicated busway, a half-mile shared-use path and the four new stations.

A second phase has been fully funded at about $29 million and includes building the Chelsea Intermodal Center, which includes a new Commuter Rail Station and a new railroad signaling system to improve traffic flow in Chelsea. The new station, unlike the existing station, will be fully accessible. The MBTA expects to solicit construction bids for Phase 2 this winter, with work beginning next summer.

One of the key initiatives for MBTA General Manager Ramirez, he said, is to get a comprehensive strategy for marketing a promoting the new service well in advance of the launch. Many of the new service options introduced by the MBTA in recent years suffer from low ridership due in many cases to people having little information about the new service.

The MBTA right now is working to select a qualified firm to handle the jobs of:

•Advertise the new service to existing and prospective customers.

•Highlight the benefits of Silver Line Gateway service relative to existing bus services in the area, including dedicated lanes and limited stops.

•Promote the ongoing work the MBTA is doing to improve its transportation offerings.

“The firm will work with the MBTA to develop well-rounded marketing and communications strategies that achieve the goals, including but not limited to market research, specifying target audiences, generating message concepts, proposing an effective mix of media, and partnering with local community organizations as part of the public outreach strategy,” said Pesaturo.

Read More

Increasing:City, Council Noise Study Reveals More Planes, Louder Planes from Logan

Increasing:City, Council Noise Study Reveals More Planes, Louder Planes from Logan

By Seth Daniel

After demanding a noise study be conducted using City funds, a Boston University School of Public Health commissioned noise study has revealed in writing what everyone in Chelsea already knew anecdotally – that the airport is driving everyone crazy.

“Overall, it is clear that Chelsea residents are exposed to higher noise levels attributed to aviation relative to many comparison communities and that those noise levels have been increasing in recent years at higher rates than in many other communities,” read the report conclusion. “These exposures have increased over the past five years, and they have increased at a faster rate in Chelsea than in many surrounding communities. Further, unlike East Boston and Winthrop, Chelsea does not fall within the FAA-defined 65 dB DNL contour required for soundproofing eligibility. Given this fact and the age of the housing stock in Chelsea, residents of Chelsea may have among the highest actual exposures to airport-related noise in the region.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino delivered the study to the Council on Monday night at its meeting, with the results being exactly what sponsoring Councillor Dan Cortell and Roy Avellaneda expected.

“Everyone who lives here know there are more flights and they are louder,” said Cortell, who represents the Admiral’s Hill area. “Now it’s time to put full-court pressure on the airport and the federal agencies we’re dealing with here. Someone in Washington, D.C., is sitting in an office looking at a map of Chelsea and making decisions and they don’t understand topography. They don’t understand we have planes on Admiral’s Hill skimming buildings.”

Said Avellaneda, “I hope this starts a dialog or plan of action for what I feel is a negative impact on our community. We definitely face disadvantages…This is not a battle between one councillor or two councillors. The whole Council and the whole community have to win…This report just proves everything we have been saying for the last few years.”

The report was called for earlier this year, and it was undertaken on behalf of the City by the Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH), which is a division of the BU School of Public Health. Those involved in the study included Jonathan Levy, Claire Schollaert and Madeleine Scammell (a Chelsea resident).

The two chief questions being asked where airport noise ranked in Chelsea compared to other nearby communities, and also how high were airport-related noise exposures compared to other nearby communities.

The study looked at noise levels by Census block for the years 2007 to 2015. The finding showed Chelsea had an average decibel level in 2015 that was one of the highest among comparison communities.

“Taken as a simple average, only Winthrop and East Boston had higher average noise levels,” read the report. “Additionally, within Chelsea, neighborhoods that are closer to the 33L (runway) flight path are exposed to higher noise levels than those that are farther away from the flight path. Looking at noise levels between 2011 and 2015, there has been a general increase in all communities investigated, with Chelsea, East Boston, and Everett having the largest increases in average airport- related noise as measured in DNL. These communities are located directly beneath the 33L departure flight path.”

One of the chief reasons for that is researchers found that flights have nearly doubled between 2012 and 2014 under the Runway 33L flight path, which is Chelsea’s main source of airplane traffic.

“The sharpest increase in annual average estimated airport-related noise levels occurred between 2013 and 2014, with Chelsea, East Boston, and Everett showing the most significant increases among communities investigated,” read the report. “Flight activity on 33L almost doubled between 2012 and 2014, and this timing also aligned with the implementation of the NextGen satellite-based navigation program that concentrated flight paths into and out of Logan Airport.”

NextGen is a frequently reviled innovation in airplane navigation technology in communities where flight paths are concentrated. The technology came on in recent years and it uses GPS technology to pinpoint flight paths and eliminate deviation. That serves to concentrate jet noise to one corridor over and over, rather than spreading it out over a wider area.

The study also sought to look at some health indicators in Chelsea, and showed that the city’s annual average age-adjusted rates of hospital admissions for heart attacks is the highest by far of the comparison communities between 2007 and 2012.

There were 44 hospitalizations per 10,000 people age 35 and over, with the nearest community being Hull with 37 and Everett with 36.

“To be clear, this does not imply that the noise or air pollution from Logan Airport is the cause of these disease patterns,” read the report. “Rather, this increased cardiovascular health burden among Chelsea residents, related to a number of different factors, indicates that Chelsea may be particularly vulnerable to increased noise exposures as a result of aviation activity.”

The Council agreed to hold a Committee on Conference in the near future to discuss the report and generate a plan. Councillors are calling for more of the City to get mitigation measures like soundproofing and parks – as well as a sensitivity to Chelsea’s predicament from MassPort that some councillors believe is missing.

“Chelsea has a lot of fourth and fifth generation residents who have been here since the late 1800s,” said Councillor Matt Frank. “I am one. Councillor Murphy is another. When the airport says we were here before you, that’s not exactly true. It’s kind of insulting.”

Read More

Time to Stop Playing Nice with MassPort, FAA, Residents Say

Time to Stop Playing Nice with MassPort, FAA, Residents Say

By Seth Daniel

As around 40 residents assembled at the Williams School Monday night on a beautiful summer evening, their greetings to one another and their conversations had to be punctuated by numerous pauses to accommodate the endless parade of airplanes passing loudly overhead.

By a quick count, about 40 planes passed over in 30 minutes before the meeting started.

It’s that sort of thing that brought out so many to the meeting, and it’s also what spawned activists and neighbors to announce that it’s time to stop working cooperatively with the airport as it’s getting the community nowhere.

“We go from Chelsea to East Boston to enjoy the parks they get as mitigation for the airport,” said Roseann Bongiovanni of GreenRoots. “A little mitigation goes a long way on helping the burden. It’s a sign of goodwill and good faith to say, ‘We understand the burden you are facing.’ That’s not happening with MassPort. We tried for six to eight months to get a meeting with them and we finally did. They heard our concerns and absorbed it and said, ‘We’re going to come back to you.’ It was positive. Eighteen months later, where are we? Nowhere. We don’t have a park or any mitigation or any amenities. They just don’t give a rat’s (expletive deleted),” she said.

MassPort has long been a thorn in the side of Chelsea as many residents have contended that the noise and frequency of the planes over Chelsea are just as obtrusive as many parts of East Boston, the host community. Meanwhile, the City also hosts an airport overlay district that serves to provide a district on Eastern Avenue and Marginal Street for airport-related uses like heavy trucking, fuel storage and rental car storage.

None of it is exactly an ideal use for residents to endure.

That said, City Councillors, Bongiovanni and scores of residents have detailed that the last couple of months have been unbearable as the airport has engaged in a Runway Improvement Project to pave the runways. That has resulted in more flights temporarily going over Chelsea, Everett and other air corridors. It has been the straw that seemingly has broken the back of Chelsea’s relationship with the airport and its regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Bongiovanni said Logan announced two weeks ago that the runway project was to end on June 23, and that things would be far less intrusive. However, residents and officials have said nothing has changed.

“June 23 came and went and today is June 26,” said Bongiovanni. “Planes are going over every 90 seconds or more. They said it would be all done. We’re seeing other communities getting up and fighting, such as in Milton. In Chelsea, we’re doing little things…It’s time for the community to stand up here and fight. We need to give them a little bit of trouble so they will listen.”

Residents at the meeting detailed being able to see planes so close that they can and have waved to passengers from their balconies. One man said the noise is so loud – occurring late in the night and resuming early in the morning – that his five-month-old baby has disturbed sleep patterns.

Others joked that they can’t watch television without the Closed Captioning – even with the windows closed.

Some even said they were frightened by how low the planes were coming in – saying it causes anxiety that they might hit something or go down.

Residents said they would like to begin taking action, and Bongiovanni said it would be important to dig up some facts and studies to bolster Chelsea’s position.

One study that never got a lot of play in Chelsea, but made big waves in Eastie, was a Department of Public Health study 10 years ago. That Environmental Health Assessment focused on Eastie, but also proved that some parts of Chelsea were just as impacted as Eastie – the airport host community.

The meeting also featured a guest speaker, John Walkey of Air, Inc, an East Boston organization that is sanctioned to work on environmental impacts of Logan Airport.

Many in the audience left the meeting with a charge to gather information and to get on the agenda of the MassPort Board meeting on July 20. There, they hope to begin making a strong point for Chelsea.

Read More

Small Relief:New Chelsea Street Bridge Driver Notification System Debuts

Small Relief:New Chelsea Street Bridge Driver Notification System Debuts

The Chelsea Street Bridge has become the bane of existence for more than a few residents that need to cross between Eastie and Chelsea – as when it goes up, one can only settle in and wait it out.

One of the warning signs tat will warn drivers that the bridge is going up.

One of the warning signs tat will warn drivers that the bridge is going up.

Residents, businesses, City Manager Tom Ambrosino and even Massport have all complained about the Bridge raising during heavy traffic times like the morning rush hour, or at the shift changes in Logan Airport – preventing employees from getting from the Chelsea parking garage to the airport. Now, at the least, drivers will have advanced notice of the inconvenience through new warning signs that use real-time technology to inform drivers that the Bridge is going up.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced it has activated a new notification system that uses real-time technology to trigger messaging on numerous road signs to inform drivers of the raising and lowering of the Chelsea Street Bridge which carries traffic between East Boston and Chelsea.

“Through our collaborative efforts with local municipal officials and members of the public, we have developed an early warning system that alerts drivers in real-time when the Chelsea Street bridge is being raised or lowered,” said Acting Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “This notification system is an important resource for members of the public and helps ensure drivers are able to make informed decisions and take the most appropriate routes when traveling to the places they need to get to throughout these local communities.”

Using Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology, an opening of the Chelsea Street Bridge will now activate eight roadway signs in the area that will read “Chelsea Street Bridge Closed Ahead.”  These eight signs are strategically located at points throughout Chelsea, East Boston and Revere in order to provide drivers with an appropriate amount of time to make informed decisions and seek alternate routes if necessary.

“The Chelsea Street Bridge is an important and heavily used link between the East Boston neighborhood and the City of Chelsea,” said Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca. “By notifying drivers when the bridge will be closed to traffic, this innovative new system will encourage drivers to seek alternate routes.  As a result, the frequency of motor vehicles backing up on local streets while waiting for the bridge to re-open is expected to be reduced, and air quality will improve due to the decrease in emissions from idling vehicles.”

“The City of Chelsea is very grateful to MassDOT for listening and responding to the City’s concerns about the negative impact upon local traffic, and Chelsea residents, whenever the Chelsea Bridge is closed,” said Chelsea City Manager Thomas G. Ambrosino. “We are hopeful that this new early warning system will help to minimize gridlock and aggravation. It will certainly give motorists the opportunity to avoid roadways heading toward the bridge before they become clogged with traffic and the opportunity for detour is foreclosed.”

The total cost for developing and installing the new notification system for the Chelsea Street Bridge was approximately $234,000. The bridge handles a daily volume of approximately 37,000 vehicles and is raised an average of five times per day to allow for the passage of incoming vessels.

The Chelsea Street Bridge was constructed in 2012 and carries traffic on Chelsea Street over the Chelsea Creek. The bridge is approximately 450 feet in length and when raised has a vertical clearance of approximately 175 feet.

Read More

MassPort Reports that Runway Closures Will End on June 23

MassPort Reports that Runway Closures Will End on June 23

This week, almost a month into work, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) is pleased to report that the critical Runway 4R-22L Resurfacing and Approach Light Pier Replacement Safety Project is progressing on schedule and will result in the rehabilitation of one of Logan Airport’s key runways and the replacement of a light pier used in operations.

The runway is expected to reopen for use by June 23.

This project is necessary to maintain the high standards of safety at Logan, MassPort said.

The runway reconstruction project began in mid-May with the closure of Runway 4R-22L and is expected to continue through June 23 as critical work is done to maintain and repair one of Logan’s major runways. The paving in the majority of the phases has been completed, with pavement markings, landscaping and lighting work remaining.

Additional work not requiring the extended closure of 4R-22L will continue through November.

The continuous work schedule and closure was agreed upon in consultation and coordination with the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration enhances safety and will reduce the overall construction timeline, bringing normal operations back faster. This important project is running on schedule and Massport expects Runway 4R-22L to be open again for use at the end of the day on June 23.

“Safety is Massport’s top priority,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. “While routine, this project will repair one of our critical runways ensuring the safest environment for the traveling public, our employees and communities. We appreciate the patience of our neighboring communities and the traveling public as flight patterns have changed and apologize for any inconvenience this work may have caused.”

This work is part of routine, but essential, safety maintenance projects that occur annually throughout airport property. The main goal of this project will be to replace the asphalt pavement that has deteriorated. The pavements were last rehabilitated in the years 2005, 2006 and 2008.

This project will include work both on the runway and at the runway’s end to replace the light pier. The existing wooden pier will be replaced with a concrete pier designed to last 75 years; the current pier was originally constructed in 1955, with repairs last made in 2016. Work on the approach light pier replacement is progressing according to schedule.

Massport Community Relations can be reached at 617-568-3711.

Read More