GreenRoots expresses concerns about Chelsea Viaduct project
(The following letter was submitted to the MassDOT regarding concerns by Chelsea GreenRoots over the coming Chelsea Viaduct project on Route 1)
We offer our sincerest gratitude to you and your team for attending last week’s GreenRoots meeting with concerned residents, stakeholders and elected officials; and for your team’s presentation at our December members’ meeting.
You know from both of those meetings as well as public comment provided at the first public meeting held at Chelsea City Hall on November 8, 2017 that the community is deeply concerned with the public health, environmental, transportation and quality of life impacts as a result of the Viaduct Rehabilitation Project. The community recognizes the need for this project. However, Chelsea residents should not have to jeopardize their health, environment and livelihoods for the betterment for a larger regional need.
Chelsea already shoulders much of the burden for the larger New England region. The Chelsea Creek waterfront is the storage hub for 80% of New England’s heating fuel, road salt for more than 300 municipalities and the host of all the jet fuel used at Logan International Airport. The New England Produce Center, the largest privately-owned produce market in the nation, is located in Chelsea and provides all of New England and some Mid-Atlantic states and Southern Canadian regions with produce. The industrial operations of all these businesses impact the community’s public health outcomes as well as our ability to have access to a healthy environment. Logan International Airport, in neighboring East Boston, brings noise and air pollution that significantly worsen public health in Chelsea. The Tobin Bridge bisected our community and brought with it numerous public health concerns such as increased respiratory and cardiac diseases stemming from increased air pollution, lead paint and noise.
According to Dr. Daniel R. Faber and Dr. Eric Krieg, Chelsea is the 3rd most intensively overburdened community in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs Environmental Justice Policy classifies every neighborhood in Chelsea as environmental justice populations. Given these serious statistics, Chelsea residents’ concerns about the Viaduct Rehabilitation Project must be taken very seriously and comprehensively addressed.
Chelsea residents’ concerns with this project include:
Overlapping time frames and little to no coordination between three MA DOT Projects, local developments, proposed utility projects and opening of the two bridges to East Boston. A list of presently known projects that will overlap include:
MA DOT North Washington Street Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement
MA DOT Tobin Rehabilitation
MA DOT Tobin Viaduct
Proposed Eversource electrical transmission line installment
Former Chelsea Clock Development
Baywood Hotels Development
Beacham Street Redesign and redevelopment project
Chelsea Street and McArdle Bridges opening for marine vessels
How will these projects be coordinated to avoid gridlock traffic in Chelsea?
How will this project impact adjacent schools and playgrounds including:
Chelsea High School
Carter Street Park/Chelsea Stadium
Williams School Basketball Courts
O’Neil Tot Lot
Mystic Overlook Park
Will children be allowed to play outside at these playgrounds and schools during construction?
What are the impacts to the New England Produce Center, which is at peak operation from 2am – 10am?
What are the impacts to the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center?
How will MA DOT prevent commuters from traveling through Chelsea, on city streets, to avoid Tobin traffic en route to Boston?
How will the homes directly adjacent to the bridge and viaduct be impacted? Has MA DOT reached out to and met with these residents?
How will the homeless who live in the bridge be impacted? What is the plan to engage these individuals?
How will residents be assured that no lead will be emitted into the air via lead dust or lead paint chips into the soil and on city streets? What independent body will be monitoring MA DOT’s compliance with all lead abatement regulations and communicate any mishaps to the community?
How will MA DOT address the expected increased health concerns and quality of life disturbances such as noise, dust and increased traffic?
If the project falls behind schedule, what are the type of penalties that the DOT will include as part of the contract, and how will Chelsea benefit? Delays in the schedule will most definitely have a negative impact on Chelsea and the residents should be appropriately compensated for these additional inconveniences.
The following is a comprehensive list of community demands and requests for mitigation. These requests are separate and independent from any agreements or negotiations made with the City of Chelsea. They should all be taken into serious consideration.
Do not close 5th street ramp
Make FREE fares on all public buses (111, 112, 116, 117), Silver Line and Commuter Rail for duration of Tobin (bridge and viaduct) projects for all Chelsea residents.
Add a 111 stop in Charlestown.
Allow T riders to wait on the bus (like other buses) at all times — especially during the cold and heat – at Haymarket.
Provide shuttle buses to Maverick and commuter rail from 1-2 locations in Chelsea
Allow all Chelsea residents to have a $.40 discounted fare for East Boston tunnels for duration of Tobin (bridge and viaduct) projects
Eliminate Chelsea Street Bridge and McArdle Bridge openings during rush hour – INDEFINITELY.
Conduct and publicize a traffic study that takes into consideration the above named construction projects.
All MA DOT property under the bridge MUST be donated to the City of Chelsea for use as the city sees fit. This includes all parking lots, underutilized lands and abandoned spaces adjacent to the MITC building and Chelsea’s downtown.
Engage the homeless population living under the bridge and collaborate with them to ensure they are not displaced without shelter or a long term plan. Engage local and state organizations to assist in ensuring the long-term well-being of these individuals.
Hire locally. Use union labor.
Make public the name and number of a multilingual person who can address concerns and question from the public regarding the project.
Limit hours of construction. Mitigate light and noise pollution.
Install permanent sound barriers along the Tobin to buffer the most impacted homes.
Seek an expedited process like that of BU Bridge to reduce the SEVERE impacts on the community.
Provide monetary mitigation for the following projects:
Improve areas under bridge, by offering monetary mitigation or improving the lighting and accessibility of this land (like South End and East Boston).
Provide monetary mitigation to install green infrastructure/stormwater catchment systems from the Bridge and Viaduct.
Provide monetary mitigation for the design and installation of public art and murals on walls under the bridge and in the viaduct.
Provide monetary mitigation to GreenRoots to:
Hire an independent Licensed Site Professional to ensure all lead dust and particles are contained; and full compliance of federal and state regulations on lead abatement.
Hire a community organizer to engage the community in ongoing dialogue with MA DOT and the MBTA about public transportation, traffic, noise and environmental impacts and other quality of life concerns that may arise throughout the duration of the viaduct project.
We appreciate your time and consideration of the aforementioned concerns and requests. We encourage a written response addressing each of these points within one month. In addition, we request the presence of Mr. Quattromani or an MBTA representative in an even more senior position to attend either the February 8th or March 8th GreenRoots meeting to further discussion ongoing public transportation concerns.
Maria Belen Power
Associate Executive Director
Chelsea City Council President
Chelsea City Council District 4
Silvia Lopez Chavez
Roberto Rodriguez Lugo
Yaritza Morales Gonzalez
Maggie Griffith Williams