Beyond 25%: What’s at stake at the hearing and after

The hearing next week, and the Highway Commissioner’s subsequent decision, will only mark the end of the first design phase, if perhaps the most important one.

The three design phases are denominated as 25%, 75%, and 100%, as follows.

  • The 25% design comprises the basic concept for the street, the lane configuration, the location of traffic signals, and other broad features.

Mass Highway, in its Design Guide (at 2-49), also calls this the “preliminary” design,  and requires a detailed functional design report, lots of measurements, and a public hearing.

  • The 75% design is also called the “final” design (but, so is the 100% design). Its fills in many details, including things like materials used, so-called street furniture like benches and bike racks, drainage, thicknesses of ramps, and a construction-management plan.

No FDR or public hearing is required for this phase, but there is extensive technical review by Mass. Highway and the Federal Highway Administration.

  • The 100% design finalizes everything, including rights of way (and plans for takings, if any), costs, and absolute, detailed construction plans. This technical process is subject to extensive checking and review, but there is no public hearing.

As you can see from the above, the designations of 25, 75, and 100 are more qualitative than quantitative. The 25% phase is of the greatest public concern, but the others are important too.

These phases may overlap in practice, and it is possible for some elements of the 25% design to change in the course of the 75% phase. Many of the staff’s comments on the FDR last February referred to issues that could be further address in the 75% design.

I foresee a continuing role for public participation.

The 75% design entails decisions about what to put on the sidewalks we are rebuilding, among other things The landscape architects will get into the act, and by the nature of their discipline they are very interested in what people think.

There is also a very important role for community involvement in designing the construction plan to minimize impacts on businesses.

Public participation in the 25% plans has been key to a generally good design, and I expect that to continue at least in the 75% phase.

2 comments so far

  1. Mark Kaepplein on

    In practice, 75% public hearings are usually held, but the presentations are mostly a repeat of 25% hearings. In meetings I’ve attended, construction phases and disruption mitigation are discussed, seldom landscaping and asphalt formulation. Project drawings available 30 minutes before the 75% meeting are quite complete – often only one copy and not much time for everybody to study them. Adam, I’m going to agree with you that the 25% hearing is of most interest to the general public.

    I encourage all people to attend (“best show in town”), but the 30 minute time commitment for just the presentation, prior to open comments is greater than the 5 minute one to vote. People who want more detail than a PowerPoint overview should come early, at 6:30 to view more detailed plans and letters submitted to the DOT.

    Since the town has not done its job getting residents aware, say with an enclosure in the recent excise tax mailings, I’ve been talking to people, letting them know, and with specifics on how many lanes are proposed in the project and close to their street, cross walk moves, bus stop moves, and how many parking spots lost near them (#350 Mass Ave. on top of losses at #355 for example). That one in particular will result in increased pedestrian danger for customers of that busy block needing to park on Wyman Street, if their hunt for parking on Wyman Terrace fails. Designers seem to have smartly acknowledged the issue with one of the few raised median islands, which also serves bus riders.

    I tell people they will likely lose additional parking spaces needed to make loading zones in single lane sections. There is just not enough width for a 10′ wide box truck or say, ambulance to double park and have a T bus, oil delivery truck, tractor trailer, or other wide vehicle get by. This is especially true with just 11′ lane widths. Whether Loading Zones are made on Mass Ave, or at the ends of side streets (adding to their traffic in the process), its lost parking. This project will effect 20,000 people a day. Like elections, they ought to learn the issues and have their say at the hearing Tuesday night at 7pm.

    By the way, after Adam having been so tolerant of me on his soap box, I finally just created my own at SaveMassAve.Net to discuss and stay better on-topic for post topics he has not covered. Setting up a blog page is easy, valuable content, much harder!

    • Adam Auster on

      Congratulations, Mark, and allow me to welcome you to the Benevolent and Communal Order of Bloggers.

      In may experience, writing about something—anything—brings that thing into focus like nothing else, for the writer I mean.

      It has certainly been a journey for me.

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