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Lane shift ahead: State looking at moving, shrinking Storrow Drive under Longfellow so hospital can expand

The Boston Courant reports state transportation officials are working on plans to stick both sides of Storrow Drive under a Longfellow Bridge arch, which would let Mass. Eye and Ear Infirmary expand one of its buildings and dig a new parking garage under the current Infirmary parking lot in exchange for giving up the parking lot for the new road alignment and new parkland (Ed. note: Link goes to a JPG image of the article, because the Courant remains one of the few newspapers in America to resist the Web).

The Courant reports the re-alignment - which would include "a lane reduction" and garage construction is at least two years away, but will not start until after the current Longfellow Bridge work is done. And before the permanent re-alignment of the entire road to what is now the inbound side can begin, the state will first have to build a temporary new road section along the outbound side, in part to let Mass. Eye and Ear build the garage.

State Rep. Jay Livingstone (D-Back Bay, Beacon Hill) filed the bill that will pave the way for the work, which would include a 240,000-square foot, 15-story expansion at the Infirmary and a new 1,040-space underground garage under what is now the hospital's Storrow-enclosed parking lot on land leased from the state.

Livingstone says that beyond helping out the hospital, the work would mean a straighter Storrow Drive, which he says would make the road safer. The land now occupied by the parkway's outbound lanes would become part of the Esplanade.

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Comments

This is a great idea to free up more parkland, but an absolutely terribly disastrous idea to reduce Storrow from 6 to 4 lanes. That is a really, really, really bad idea.

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This is a fabulous idea.

Anything that will lessen the incentive for people to drive and use other modes of transportation is a good thing!

Cars ruin cities.

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Not a fan of adding parking but always thought storrow could use a narrowing.

Based on personal observations (fromstaring at the road from foot bridges), the three lanes tends to cause hyper competitive driving. This leads to a lot of dangerous traffic situations.

Less lanes could calm this and probably increase traffic speeds and safety.

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If employers reduced the salaries of people like you, it would make you calmer, safer, and increase your speed. Yeah, what you wrote makes no sense either.

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many people rely on without improving alternative transportation options for those people is always a bad idea. And for what, so a private orginization can benefit with a new building and parking garage?

Another example of bad public policy.

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It is called the Mass Turnpike.

It is located a short distance away from Storrow, and is an interstate.

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Get to Exeter and Newbury...from Medford. Don't use Storrow. Go.

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Use surface roads - much faster anyway. It takes less than 40 minutes to bike over there as it is by cutting through Somerville and Cambridge.

Mystic Ave. to McGrath/O'Brien to Memorial Drive. Or cut through the street grid - Cedar St. to Somerville Ave. to Park to Beacon, etc.

Also, Memorial Drive. Better choice most of the time than Storrow.

Roads that are good bike roads are often the better roads for cars if you can get over the idea that you are somehow entitled to high speeds.

Heaven Forfend that a Masshole have to actually read a map and plot a course!

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Storrow is flooded with cars coming and going from Longwood and Fenway Park. Memorial really isn't a good alternative (I've tried many times) to Storrow - slower and more lights and crosswalks. Just as the bike path on the Boston side is better than the bike path on the Cambridge side.

90,000 cars a day use Storrow and there is nothing else that can handle the volume.

I know there are proposals to put lights on Storrow. Neighbors on surrounding streets will go nuts with the extra traffic.

Additionally the Charles River Conservancy is pushing for a lane reduction on the east end of Memorial.

Clearly if you could get cars from Longwood and Fenway on to the pike reducing the size of Storrow would be a lot easier.

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Where is this 90,000 number coming from?

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I wasn't going to reply because I thought the thread was dead.. but last night I was looking up some history about Storrow and came across this article from NPR from 2009.

90,000 car isn't correct. According to this NPR story Storrow Drive...

Today, the “parkway” known as Storrow Drive has a daily crowd of 131,000 cars.

So its even MORE than 90k

http://www.wbur.org/2009/07/17/esplanade-future

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Now Memorial Drive is chocked full of cars that used to be on Storrow. As would Beacon Street and Comm Ave. Of course, I don't know how people would now be getting out of the Back Bay, since Boylston Street is for some reason insane before the theoretical demise of Storrow.

I use Storrow to avoid driving through the Back Bay proper, and I won't even start on how it's basically the best way to the New Balance area of Brighton from Roslindale (yes, I could go via Cleveland Circle and Brighton Center, but that would entail having to go through Cleveland Circle and Brighton Center, which should be avoided at all costs while driving during the day.) It's a great bypass, and a mighty pretty one too boot.

Now, were ramps added to the Pike, I'd be willing to chip in $.50 a go, maybe a buck to go that way, but Storrow serves a purpose, and despite the naysayers doesn't detract from the Esplanade.

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Please explain how you get from Rozzie to Brighton via Storrow.

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blah, blah (my anonymity) Washington Street to Forest Hills, then along the Emerald Necklace, following the Muddy River to its source, which is at Storrow, which after the BU Bridge becomes Soldiers' Field. Beyond the Harvard athletic fields I get a bit confused, but keep left. At the end of Artisani Park, exit right, then hook left and right to Birmingham Parkway. Cross the Turnpike, then you've got the Stockyard, GBH, New Balance (my destination) and various sundry other locations.

Mind you, if I were going to St. E's, I would probably go via Brookline, as there are easy ways to avoid Cleveland Circle and the parts of Allston/Brighton that are best avoided by car.

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Why is yours any different?

I would take that as a hint that driving isn't going to be the best way - unless the point of using your own car is to stay dry, stay warm or cool, and/or have your own habitat bubble for the duration. There is no guarantee that it will be fast, nor should their be.

I used to commute from the Medical Area to/from Medford. For some of that time, I had to use my car because I was hauling lab equipment all over the 128 area. The best way is not always the way with the highest speed limits, but the way with the least distance and highest average speed. Even if that means that you are going 20mph over a shorter distances for a higher percentage of the time.

Of course, the best way for me was to bike much of the year - 45-55 minutes door to door.

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I would park at Wellington, get off at North Station and take a Hubway bike down Storrow Drive...wait, i have to take the bike down the esplanade because storrow is filled with cars.

Another reason to shutdown Storrow to only bikes and pedestrians! It would make commutes better for Medford and other residents living north of the city.

Don't bike? take the green line from north station. or from the money you would save by not driving and parking...u could do an Uber from north station.

man, so many options.

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Don't bike? take the green line from north station. or from the money you would save by not driving and parking...u could do an Uber from north station.

You're full of contradictions today. So its OK not to drive, but its OK to use Uber? *confused look*

A car is a car is a car, no matter who is driving. Still uses gas. Still emits green house gasses. Still is added onto city streets.

Advocate for LESS cars on the road, and yes that includes taxis and Uber.

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yes, no uber and taxis....but it takes baby steps.

using my solution should get many able-bodied people out of their cars and on bikes / public trans.

there is the elderly and disabled that my solution would not work for...they could taxi or uber. they are small %... so not as bad.

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Your vision of a perfect world seems to aim get a lot of able-bodied people to take something that is a not a car by vinegar rather than by honey. And ignore the possibility that a lot of people want to drive willingly unless it is made too hard to do so.

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Don't bike? take the green line from north station.

Great ideas. This very blog is a testament to the reliability of the T, and what a bike-friendly city Boston is.

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these are things the city needs to work on.

when demand for these services gets out of control...they'll be forced to address the T reliability and bike safety.

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And clearly the logical place to start is to close the second biggest east-west connector in the entire city.

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An influx of ppl on the T would stink at first..and for a couple weeks, maybe months. but it forces the MBTA to get its isht together.

Gotta break some eggs to make an omelette.

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it forces the MBTA to get its isht together.

Ha ha ha ha. Yeah, sure. That'll definitely happen.

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has leaned itself considerably since 2000 and the "forward funding" half-baked ideas. The T doesn't need to get its shit together so much as a critical mass of people to be mature and recognize that funding the T is in their interest, and then dedicate a better funding mechanism than 20% of the damn sales tax.

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That's borderline absurdly-optimistic. It assumes the primary reason they aren't addressed is city is responsive and reflective, but just not enough pressure has been added. You very well can be underestimating how much can people adapt to suckier normals and how much a city can ignore such pressures.

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There's nothing borderline about it!

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The T is better than MUNI (and a lot of other cities that are not NYC) by a factor of at least 100. That said, it's not perfect when it breaks, it's awful. I live on teh Red Line, so I'm not completely naive.

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Swirls, follow the Budweiser trucks from Medford , they do it everyday !

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How exactly is the Mass Pike useful for people going from 93 or the Tobin to, say, Fenway?

I've said this countless times on here, but the Pike and Storrow serve completely different traffic with completely different origins and destinations. That's like telling people who ride the B C or E branches of the green line that they really should all just take the D, it's kinda nearby at one point.

And the Pike doesn't exactly have capacity to spare.

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Then get rid of Storrow Drive.

Storrrow drive should never have been built, and it is a giant money hole and whining point.

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It's just not technically possible to do so. Too many buildings abut the pike to add more exits. It would be too much land taking and/or NIMBYism would totally kill it.

Storrow Drive was meant to be. It was designed to take thru traffic off of Beacon and Comm Ave and put it somewhere else that wasn't a residential neighborhood (remember Storrow pre-dates the Pike). After the pike was built, Storrow became local traffic, and the Pike is meant for thru traffic. Getting rid of Storrow would push the traffic back onto local streets, and I'm sure the residents of Comm/Beacon would have a lot to say about that...

And I use the Tobin Bridge, and even though from my door its a tad further to the Pike (via East Boston/1A), I always use the Tobin. Why? Because it's just far faster to get to points in Cambridge (MicroCenter), BackBay, and Allston. The Pike adds time to my trip.

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I couldn't imagine the clusterfuck that would be added to the Pru exit of the pike without Storrow. Copley Square would be ruined with all the traffic.

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Althought the east bound ones would required a lot of changes. There is a proposal for a west bound enterance at Fenway. However you are correct it would be very costly in land and getting agreement from neighbors.

This is the best I could find on the idea of new west bound entrance to pike.
http://patch.com/massachusetts/fenwaykenmore/transportation-bill-earmark...

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WAS built, and a large number of people DO USE it. So quit your whining about getting rid of it, and this fallacy that even more parkland is more important than maintaining a vital commuter artery.

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Spending on transit should be a much higher priority of that's what it is all about.

Unless you want to pay a $5 a ride toll to maintain Storrow, I'd say we have far better and more efficient places to put our collective money than down a nasty sinkhole for the sake of a few people.

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90,000 cars (many of which do have more than one person in them, so really over 100,000 people) is not a "few".

In fact, that's about half the ridership of the red and orange lines, and almost twice the ridership of the blue line. So if maintaining a road that serves more than 100,000 people a day is "for the sake of a few people" and thus shouldn't be a priority, I presume you think we should stop paying for the blue line too, since it serves virtually no one (by your logic, at 60,000 daily riders)?

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And the MBTA is not a sinkhole? Please, you live in another world.

Swirls, I'm 150% in support of more public transit, but even I know the MBTA is a sinkhole of an agency.

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Because it works so well in Texas. Pay taxes for roads and if you can afford it, pay a toll to get around that pesky traffic. Oh, if public transit doesn't work because it doesn't fit your hospital hours, you got to pay to get to work on time or your ride can you the backed up surface roads.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/in-texas-toll-roads-proliferateand-a-back...

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http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2014-09-03-bicycle-path-data-a...

Road narrowing led to decreased travel times while maintaining vehicle volumes (page 11).

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Yes, all those people commuting into Boston to work to earn a living are absolutely RUINING the city of Boston. Horrible, evil working people!

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well, there are the thousands of meathead sox/bruins/pats/celtics fans that come into the city and lower the quality of life. then there is the Faneuil bar hoppers from the burbs...

just to name a couple.

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Cars do not ruin cities, I absolutely hate that argument. Piss poor urban planning, sub par transit systems, and people who do not know how to balance using transit and driving ruin cities.

As much as I hate paying for parking, take the garages and lots and meters around the area out of the equation, and the economy takes a hit. Jobs lost as attendants, valets, etc., not to mention the losses businesses would take if nobody drove in. And if I decided to jump on the 3 trains and a bus to get to East Cambridge from East Boston with my hockey gear, the smell and amount of space being taken up would ruin a lot more people's nights than me jumping in the car and driving 10 mins through the Sumner.

And if you really do feel so strongly about cars, you probably shouldn't support this since they're building a 1,000+ space garage as part of the project. More spaces for cars to park, less space for them to move, BRILLIANT!

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I wholeheartedly agree with you.

and <3 this

And if you really do feel so strongly about cars, you probably shouldn't support this since they're building a 1,000+ space garage as part of the project. More spaces for cars to park, less space for them to move, BRILLIANT!

LOVE This. And I agree. How can you support this project when it will BRING MORE CARS INTO THE CITY? The Op invalidated is whole argument by supporting a parking garage.

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Poor urban design is often a result of our misalocation of resources in favor of cars. usually caused by those who worship the "gods of free parking and traffic flow".

i do agree that parking causes traffic. And bad parking policy exacerbates it. However, road diets also impact traffic flow.

Edit - example: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2014-09-03-bicycle-path-data-a... (page 11)

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see its outcome.

Still not a fan of the parking lot... :/

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And if I decided to jump on the 3 trains and a bus to get to East Cambridge from East Boston with my hockey gear

you shouldn't have to jump on 3 trains and a bus! Fix the "piss poor urban planning problem".

we put a man on the moon, we can certainly figure it out.

One option that doesn't require a whole lot of new infrastructure is smart buses that can figure out demand, adjust routes and schedules in real time, (no.i do not work for bridj).

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And believe me I would. Especially since I can essentially see East Cambridge from my house.

But until the MBTA can do something about it, that is the problem, and my car solves it.

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Especially since I can essentially see East Cambridge from my house.

Can you see Russia though?

(sorry, I couldn't resist)

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house sees you.

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People can use the Mass Pike, its crazy to have two highways so close together, one free and one toll. The state stole a lot of parkland from Bostonians to make storrow before the Pike was made, now we have the pike and the 20 billion dollar extension to the airport and connection to 93. Storrow Highway should end by Harvard Stadium and put drivers onto the Pike. There are plenty of commuter rail trains if the pike is unacceptable.

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For the Masspike to be a viable alternative to Storrow (which it should be), new on/off ramps need to be built so that people in Back Bay, Fenway, Kenmore, etc can use it to connect to downtown, Logan, and I-93. Until then, traffic is going to continue to clog up Storrow and the lane reduction will be untenable.

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it's going to need lower overpasses for trucks to run into.

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If there were more places to get on and off it. The Pike isn't set up to be usable for transport within Boston, Storrow is. How much of the traffic on Storrow is intra-urban?

You can't use the Pike inbound if you're not out past Newton. Want to get from Brookline to Mass General? From West Rox to the Tobin? Drive over the Pike to get on Storrow at BU or Charlesgate. I'd be happy to use the Pike, but it's only usable to and from the burbs.

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We could probably get the feds to pay for some of that work - unlike Storrow Drive, which needs hundreds of millions of dollars, all from state budgets, and will still be inadequate.

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See Above

It's not about money Swirls, it's about NIMBYism and land takings. People would be up in arms if you took out a few city blocks for exits.

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Knocking down buildings to create more ramps to the Pike would be very damaging to the neighborhoods affected. It would create all kinds of holes in the streetscapes, plus they would become magnets for cars.

Storrow works well enough. I use it three or more times per week, and also use the Mass. Pike. Leave them alone.

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There are not plenty of commuter trains. Have you ever looked at the commuter rail schedule? Especially at the Newton stops, where there's that 8 hour gap in inbound service in the afternoon...

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What a great idea! We should definitely reduce the # of lanes of one of the most heavily-trafficed roads in Boston to make things easier for a hospital!

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Yep. In fact, they should just shutdown storrow drive to only pedestrians and bikers.

it would make Boston better.

Cars ruin cities: vehicular homicide, drunk drivers, pollution, tax dollars going to road maintenance...just to name a few.

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Are you by chance also the mayor of Portland? If you are tell your parents to buy a monorail system.

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Portland is a fabulous city. The mayor should send a team out there to learn and come up with new ideas for Boston.

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How to convert a disused warehouse district into offices, hotels, and residences while including public transit enhancements and important walkable amenities (grocery stores) into the fundamental design of the area.

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Sorry, I do not own a puppet theatre, a chinchilla nor multiple accordions so I do not want anything related to Portland to come to Boston.

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Who has never been there.

Just keep watching Portlandia and thinking it is real, mmmkay?

(and thanks for reminding me about the property tax bill ... gotta buy more public puppet theaters ... um ... trains and trolley lines that is)

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I've been multiple times. Nice to ride around in, still too twee for comfort.

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I rather like being able to meet my cousins downtown for, say, a large civic event or picnic with a bottle of wine while there is a free concert at the Zoo, then return to the neighborhood via public transit and still find open pubs for a snack and a pint before walking home.

That's the Portland that I know. A place that is easy to get around no matter what mode you choose, because there are choices. Lot more tolerant of a wide variety of folks, too - not everyone is a hipster. Lots of working class folk living in the same spaces, enjoying the ease of getting around with good transit, bike lanes, and the nanny state nearly absent.

Some places are more twee than others - you just have to know where the regular folk live and work and bike.

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Portland also has a high per capta strip clubs. No need to go to a narrow area around Chinatown.

Haven't seen the puppet theatre or accordians. I've only gone past the strip clubs.

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Portland also has a really large Porn Industry; it also lags most similar cities in wage growth and job creation. The 16 Sept. NYT Magazine had a good analysis of Portland entitled " Will Portland Always Be a Retirement Community for the Young"?
In that article one of the people (unemployed himself but his wife is working as a barista) says "Jobs are thinner here... but intelligent urban planning makes my heart sing"
But as the article says.... heartwarming planning only can go so far in a city of the overeducated and underemployed.
But to give balance here... it does have a 24/7 donut shop in which, unlike Dunks, you can also get married.

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1.) Do not insult Portland

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Sorry, I do not own a puppet theatre, a chinchilla nor multiple accordions

But I have been to Hamburg, Germany. What you describe sounds more like Hamburg.

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10 bucks says this gets done before the first Green Line train makes its first stop beyond Lechmere

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We'll probably have a colony on Mars before the first Green Line train runs beyond Lechmere.

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People taking Storrow expect 3 lanes. They also have to deal with all levels of idiots not understanding the traffic flow (does the middle lane turn left or right here, etc.). This leads to aggressive driving, use of the middle lane to "merge" into turn lanes, panicked tourists, etc.

Two lanes is understandable for a road that size and that speed limit. People stay in their lane more, and they expect exit lanes to appear and disappear instead of the entire left/right lane becoming an exit or not as it is now.

The one caveat I will say is that if they reduce both sides to 2 lanes, then outbound Storrow can NOT ever lose a lane to parking for the Hatch Shell any more ever again forever and ever. That would be a disaster even worse than it is already now. There's a certain amount of volume that satisfies people driving from north of the city to Back Bay/Beacon Hill that isn't realistically serviced by any other roads than Storrow, so that outbound traffic is always at a certain volume between 93 and Kenmore. It's already bad enough when they close one lane out of three...closing it down to a single lane would be a nightmare.

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So my understanding is that this project will restore an arch under the Longfellow bridge to parkland use, returning it to as it was in the 1930s and prior to the construction of Storrow Drive in 1950?

Can anyone confirm that?

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....they would be even more interesting if people didn't have to, you know, use Storrow in the next few years.

Surface streets, are you joking? More Bikes? Bikes are part of the problem now, with adding bike lanes. If they want to dedicate a line, do it for buses - doing it for bikes is useless.

I was in London recently and the subway and the buses are awesome - I saw no bike lanes, because, as one Londoner told me "It is terribly inefficient to have a lane for a few blokes when you can just take the bus that carries 50 times as many a day - also it rains a bit here which makes cycling sometimes less than pleasant."

The same people who believe that bikes wil save us from pollution, ill health, etc, are the same people who post constant pictures about saving dogs on Facebook - you're missing the point. I wish we gave as much thought to the city's homeless as we did for stupid dogs.

Forget the bikes, forget the dogs, forget healthcare for illegals - build a better transit system, build an urban ring. Tell people to shut the hell up, dug tunnels under the charles, do a boat taxi, and force developers and colleges to kick in for transit upgrade money.

And for goodness sake, stop trying to expand the Green line to Slumerville. Fix what we have, make it better, the train stations are gross and leak. Think about burying the B-line to make it faster, putting a connection underwater from Kenmore square to central square - spend all the money on deep level subways,

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insulting cyclists
dog pictures
healthcare for illegals
shut the hell up
Kill the GLX while asking for better transit

Way to sound progressive while going 55 in reverse!

Oh, and you do realize that London has some of the worlds worst pollution because of all those buses? That when they switched to buses was when they got the killer fogs?

Look it up.

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You are correct saying that public transportation should have priority over private transportation (like cars and bicycles) on city roads. I don't know why we prioritize setting-up bike-lanes but not bus lanes. Maybe it's because bus-lanes don't have anyone lobbying for them.

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maybe they'll also study making storrow a surface road - get rid of that ridiculous charlesgate interchange...

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Traffic is bad as it is. Doing this will make it worse and reduce everyone's quality of life - think of all the pollution from idling vehicles. It keeps thru-traffic off residential streets in the Back Bay. Not to mention how many emergency vehicles use Storrow every day to quicky get across the city. And public transportation is really only useful if you're wealthy enough to live close to a stop, and you're going to or from downtown. Anything else and you're better off driving or biking.

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I think if you are coming from the East you use the first part of Storrow to get to Mass General. If you coming from most parts West of Back Bay you got to Longwood or Boston Medical Center. I think for the most part they avoid Storrow (aside from the short sectioned mentioned above).

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I didn't get my copy this morning and I can't read the JPG. So it might be Adam's interpretation.

Anyway, I thing the building of Mass Eye and Ear expansion and the moving of Storrow are two different things. And the construction of the new building and underground parking don't necessarily lead to moving the outbound lane under the same arch as the inbound lane. When Mass Eye and Ear proposed their idea the proposal prohibited moving the two directions one arch possibility. So the neighborhood and Esplanade Association rejected it and suggested they put together a proposal that would allow the two directions one arch possibility. The current proposal allows for the two directions under one arch.

I don't think the one arch two directions idea necessarily follows the building of Mass Eye and Ear's expansion. It may go the way of the Blue line extension to the Red line.

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Heading westbound on Storrow from the tunnels or I-93N there is a very difficult merge. You're usually faced with heavy traffic in the right two lanes, and have to make a last-second merge in the middle of a sharp curve to avoid going up the Charles Circle ramp. Heading to Storrow westbound from Charles Circle there is again a difficult merge in the middle of a curve. Eastbound on Storrow, there are two very sharp curves in this area. And in the middle of this all is a bizarre maze of parking lots and ramps that completely cuts off pedestrian access to the river.

This plan would presumably solve all of those problems, give back some of the Charles River parkland, and provide high-paying jobs and expanded access to healthcare. Sounds like a winner to me. I think Storrow could survive a lane reduction here anyway, the backups are caused by situations to the east and west of here.

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If they can straighten the road, traffic will flow more smoothly, which will more than make up for the lane reduction. And it restores some parkland. It sounds like a win-win.

I just hope they can pull it off, including not messing anything up by making the traffic lights worse where the ramps meet Charles Circle.

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This is another bright idea brought to us by the fools at MASSDOT. Imagine adding a 1040 space parking garage while removing 2 traffic lanes? This why I am voting for Charlie Baker--30 year Democrat- This nonsense has to stop. Wider roads, bridges and tunnels is what we need, not a narrowing of our infrastructure. Maybe Mass Eye and Ear should move and let Mass General buy the property? These Devalue Bike people have to be removed from MASSDOT.

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Wider Linear Parking Lots?

Beijing smog?

That's what you get.

We have 50 years of experience telling us that you cannot build your way out of traffic jams.

FIFTY YEARS - IT DOES NOT WORK! It just turns our cities into sterile shitheaps.

Even my late father - 40 years in road building - could get that.

Perhaps you should do some web searches - there are too many studies demonstrating the foolishness of this notion over half a century to cite here.

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You CAN'T really look at history to make that argument though, because guess what? Our population has grown tremendously in the past 50 years!

The only way you could make an accurate judgement about whether increasing road capacity reduces congestion or the opposite is if the population had remained stagnant. Of course the roads aren't going to seem less congested if there's more people driving.

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It isn't that roads grow more congested 50 years after they are widened... they grow more congested usually the same year they are widened. We have more than 50 years of experience of that.

For example, California just spent billions to widen the most heavily used freeway in the country, adding a car-pool lane, and the result has been that vehicles now experience an additional minute of delay on average. Billions wasted, for a worse outcome than before.

We are lucky that Governor Sargent put a stop to the ever-deepening, cyclical trap of highway widening inside Rt 128. Otherwise there wouldn't be much of Boston left by now, except one enormous, spiraling traffic jam.

So the question right now isn't about whether widening is the right idea. Other than a few 1950s dead-enders, we all know that widening doesn't work. That's been proven beyond a doubt for decades. The question then is what to do instead?

I personally think that one aspect involves reducing dependence on the motor vehicle in various ways. It's not freedom if you are forced to use it. So you can get into a whole discussion about improving cities, transit, walking, biking, making it possible to live close to your daily activities, etc. It turns out that in cities, density (done right) usually leads to much less driving per person. That's why cities work at all: proximity solves a large portion of the travel problem.

Another aspect is charging the true cost of driving to the person who experiences the most benefit. In the past, the costs were passed off onto the general public while drivers reaped the benefits. Parkland was taken away (in the case of Storrow) and pollution was added to the air, with no recompense. Furthermore, it turns out that not charging for a valuable resource (road space) results in shortages (traffic jams). Thus far, the only known, fair way of resolving this impasse is to put a price on the resource, much like we do with just about every other resource, and balance supply with demand.

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it's what it's called - you increase capacity, people drive more - and you end up with more congestion. people who study this issue have known this for years and finally policy is catching up (the public, unfortunately, still hasn't). What we need to do is find ways to make it easier and more pleasant for people to get around by other modes - which is a lot more than just putting in bike lanes and expanding public transit - it means development patterns, job access, vulnerable road user laws... if our population is growing absolute the last thing we want is more cars on the road - we need to find other ways of moving people.

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bury that portion of Storrow Drive in the hole too. Maybe just bury the whole drive in a mini big dig.

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Great Idea!

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That's what sump pumps are for. Do you think the entire central subway stays dry without an army of pumps running 24/7?

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You can't pump it out without it coming right back in, because there is no "away" to pump it into (unlike the sumps at the dams that can pump back into the harbor)

Add sea-level rise overwhelming the earthworks and stir for a potent cocktail of fail.

This was a swamp. It wants to be a swamp. It will be a swamp.

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To anyone who done more research. Is it possible to keep Storrow at its current level, but just cover it?

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But we'd be talking some serious benjamins and a decades worth of snarling delays. We'd need to reconfigure all the on/off ramps, figure out what to do about 11' clearances, rebuild the pedestrian bridges, not to mention somehow account for the vehicular bridges, or that the whole thing is built on filled-in swamp. With Storrow it's either reduce it, keep it as it is, or get rid of it - can't really get the best of both worlds in the situation.

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Most of it didn't even exist to be "a swamp" until they filled in Back Bay (literally filled a bay of water with earth).

The downtown area is rife with examples of where we built out on to the Harbor or the River. We could tunnel Storrow if we wanted to. Putting tunnels near and under water is where tunnels are usually found. Sheesh.

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How many transit systems (or how much improvement in transit capacity) could we get for the money it would take to big dig Storrow?

How much of an excise tax would you pay on your car to pay for this, as it would be entirely state money?

Do you really trust MA with a project this large when there aren't Feds to answer to?

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They want to have fewer lanes to inevitably handle the same amount of traffic. That means the ambulances I see on a daily basis using Storrow Drive to get to the nearby hospitals will have one less lane to access thus slowing emergency response times. Sounds like a brilliant plan to me. SMH.

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Want your shower to run faster? I'll come over and put a 3' wide pipe in the wall! That will do it!

No?

Doesn't work that way. Storrow, like other roads, jams up because the intersections and off ramps and the roads they empty onto are fundamentally limited in capacity, not because it doesn't have enough lanes.

That's called a rate controlling factor in science and engineering. Lane miles are not the rate controlling factor in throughput on Storrow and other roadways.

More lanes just means a bigger parking lot.

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Yes, more lanes means a bigger parking lot, which means more cars crawling sling on Storrow rather than on surrounding surface streets.

You are completely right that traffic flow largely correlates to fluid flow. But you still need to have space to PUT all the cars trying to get through. If you reduce Storrow's capacity, it pushes the backups father back, which means onto Boylston, Charlesgate, Comm Ave, etc. and 93, 1, etc. Then people like you will see the traffic on those roads and start pushing to reduce their capacity, which will just push the congestion even farther out.

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You are completely right that traffic flow largely correlates to fluid flow

No! This is one of the biggest fallacies that laypeople fall into when they try to think about traffic flow.

People are not molecules. People adapt to context, make plans, and think ahead. People engage in long-range and short-range planning, and can make different choices depending upon available options.

That's why adding lanes to a highway results in more congestion, and it's also why removing lanes from a highway can reduce congestion. This whole idea of "spillover" is a red herring. People don't keep on throwing themselves at an opening and "spill over" like they are molecules in a fluid. They change their behavior instead. The system reaches a new equilibrium.

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but for a lack of easy alternatives, people still will go the same way.

As we've said over and over again, Storrow serves a purpose.... local traffic to Beacon Hill, Backbay, Fenway, and beyond.

I agree with one point about ADDING lanes adds more traffic. But reducing them doesn't remove them. It just causes back ups and forces people onto other lesser traveled streets.

Just look at the traffic patterns when the big dig was in full construction mode. Did it stop people. NO. They just sat in traffic longer or used roads like 28 or 99.

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As an engineer from INRIX once said: "there's a large element of psychology in traffic patterns." In the Big Dig they told people that they didn't need to change anything, that they could continue the same patterns of travel that they were using before, and as a result people continued to try to do so.

Nowadays, the more clever engineers have figured this out. For example, when building the aforementioned highway expansion in California (the 405), the media spent weeks promoting the notion of a "Carmageddon!" during a necessary shutdown of the highway for construction. In the end, the traffic conditions during the shutdown were easier than normal. Same for a project in NYC where a lane had to be shutdown on the extremely busy Alexander Hamilton Bridge carrying the Trans-Manhattan expressway into the Bronx. The media screamed the usual predictions of doom. The mayor of Fort Lee (yes, that Fort Lee) made preparations for riot conditions, with police stationed at major ramps. In the end, it turns out, during the multi-month project, congestion levels were much lower than normal. Of course, since nothing bad happened, it went almost unremarked in the press, except for one very interesting interview with folks at INRIX.

So, as I said, reducing lanes can result in lowered congestion. It's all about how well relations with the public are managed. Precisely because people are not molecules, and treating people as people will produce a much better outcome.

Regarding Storrow, I understand what you're saying, but I think there's still plenty of room for reform somewhere between the current, decrepit, 1950s-style anti-urban highway and a proper street that actually helps everyone with accessibility between Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, Fenway and the Esplanade.

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Regarding Storrow, I understand what you're saying, but I think there's still plenty of room for reform somewhere between the current, decrepit, 1950s-style anti-urban highway and a proper street that actually helps everyone with accessibility between Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, Fenway and the Esplanade.

I will admit a parkway (more Memorial Drive-like or SF-style Embarcadero ) would be a good replacement. but I don't support getting rid of it all together like others on here have suggested.

And yes you are correct about PR... like the Longfellow. Good communication and little traffic issues because of the lane restrictions. So yes, it does work.

(Edited to add second paragraph)

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I think on this website, we don't disagree reducing lanes can actually reduce congestion. The water molecules thing is just trying to explain concepts without getting all the clauses and nuances.

That said, your examples of carmegeddon and etc is troubling to me. If you're merely trying to say that we need to factor that people will change behavior patterns in face of changes in the environment, we can get that. If you're using "Carmageddon" and Alexander Hamilton Bridge towards reducing lances will reduce congestion, we got a problem. With all the media hype, its the same thing as the traffic shutdown hype of the DNC convention.

Yes, traffic during DNC was great in that time. It doesn't mean things were better. Reducing lanes can relieve congestion, but while the cars can go away, the people does not. The person will have the same options between bike, train, bus, car, foot, and other modes. But the only thing changed is now the car option looks less enticing because driving sucks more. I'll write a clause that's not necessarily true, as people do not always pick the most "optimal" way to commute/get-around. Thus, changing a pattern may switch a person that actually be better for the person. But I'm going to argue more times than not that it's a strategy of serving less. If we are going to discuss about reducing lanes and options, we are going to have ask if we are attacking the sub-optimal users or making people lives harder.

All of that said, what this means when applying to the case of Storrow Drive is we can't just merely reduce/close stuff down without improving in equal or greater amount somewhere else. While this can easily mean adding ramps to the Pike, I'll add that it can also mean making the Green Line faster (or both). If we just merely reducing lanes without any other action, then we're just forcing people to use other modes by using vinegar rather than honey.

Edit: I want to add one thing. I argue against you because your argument against "water flow" thinking have issues to me that I must repeat every time you raise it on this site. Traffic does not flow like water, but we can't just remove lanes everywhere and dust our hands off either. In regards for Storrow aside from Pike ramps. I dream of a day Storrow can be shutdown and restored to the vision of James Storrow. It remains an enraging injustice the state did to him after his death by waiting for him and his wife to die, building it that is against his wishes during his life, and naming it after him. But I also recognize - especially in my post college years (though I think I have some understanding before) - what's needed before we can make that happen, if ever. I'm not one to toss aside 90,000 users unless we can set up something to is equivalent or better (that sentence is only in regards to a Storrow Dr Shutdown, reducing a lane not affecting on that deep of a level).

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...what our dear old Dad (a highway worker) said to us many times:

"You never can - or will - build your way out of a traffic jam"

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Question: what is the most controversial topic in the city of Boston today? Is it 25yr anniversary of the Chuck Stuart killings that opened raw wounds in our community? Is it the 10yr anniversary of the Red Sox first championship in 86 years?

Answer: No! It's fucking Storrow Drive. I have a lot to say here, but I'm too late to the party it seems. Just put the Bowker at grade and we'll call it a day. Holy shit we care a lot about our acid-trip of arterial road.

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will improve everyone's quality of life. Bring it on.

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I'm not too keen on the addition of parking but at least they're proposing a pretty nice form of mitigation. A restoration of a piece of the Charlesbank park!

Next up: untangling the Bowker spaghetti ramp mess to regain some semblance of what Olmsted once termed the "crown jewel" of the Emerald Necklace: the Beacon Entrance and the Charlesgate park.

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Now:
IMAGE(https://gallery.mailchimp.com/93f0127a18f92cd96c09b07a2/images/1e85da42-ca21-4d59-979f-75aa7145e596.jpg)

Then:IMAGE(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-9qOITqUnxpY/T-qgE1MhO_I/AAAAAAAAB6c/pQMKO3HcWDo/s1600/Hubbard%2BBeacon%2BStreet%2B1.jpg)

SOURCE

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congrats all

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This whooooooooole thread is so awesome to read. PURE JOY!!! i love you all. I have absolutely nothing to contribute here, except all the scoffing, laughing, frowning, and calculating and mental mapping ive done for the last 20 minutes reading each comment.

But Boston... damn it is a fine fine city and that would not be possible without yall~!

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I love the pics. But the boats... the boats in that second pic muster up a thought i have wondered about 500,000 times while getting from my newton office to downtown court buildings -- being a salty dog from the waters of Maine and having my own outboard boston whaler when I was 8 years of age... Ive wanted to simply park at the charles rive so r boathouse on nonantum or thereabouts, jump in my boston whaler and waiiiiiillll all the way down the rivah and tie the boat up near the science museum so i can get from middlesex courthouse to suffolk courthouse and city hall on my runarounds.

Sounds great? Anyone ever do that? is it legal? ha! But as for the outboard engine... it wont use gas... itlll be solar! haha! but a nice trip nonethless. To be able to use the Charles River itself as my main mode of transportation would be so epic.... ohhh look thar he goes, down the rivah! passing all dem cars crammed up in a bottleneck yonder Storrow

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I wonder if a water taxi/shuttle service on the Charles could make it ad a commuter option?

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I wonder if a water taxi/shuttle service on the Charles could make it ad a commuter option?

It would work very well if they were to turn Clarendon Street into a canal...

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Yes, you can make that trip by power boat if you want.

No, you can't do it very fast because you have to consider the rights of other watercraft, including sailboats from the sailing pavilions and crew shells.

The first crew you wake will probably be your last. Crew coaches are mean SOBs and DOBs and they will put aside rivalries to surround and board your vessel if your actions threaten an eight or a four.

I was rowing in a four in college when some jerk decided to harass and intimidate us with his power boat. No idea why, but he was surrounded, boarded, thrown to the deck, and held for the cops by coaches from BU, Harvard, and MIT.

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Unlike in your case where the jerk was out to intimidate and thus easily susceptible to being surrounded, in this case, uhub commenter 'libs' would be trying to get from point A to point B as fast as possible.

He would likely blow past any crew moving at speed in a pretty direct path and already well on his way before some coach with a stick up his ass even gets any idea about lesson teaching.

That having been said: unless the entire Charles River is a no-wake zone (unlikely), libs would merely need to ensure he stays outside of any no-wake zones and at least 150 feet away from any sailboats or crews (or other powerboats) and he could go as fast as he damn well wants to since I don't think the Charles comes equipped with speed limits.

"As fast as he damn well wants to" might not be possible in the more congested parts of the Charles that happen to parallel Storrow where there wouldn't even be 300 feet of room between any two watercraft to pass through while creating a wake, thus invalidating at least one of the reasons for this exercise, but I digress.

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Anybody making more than headway speed on the Charles would stick out like a sore thumb. It's not like there's any way to get a boat off it in a hurry either. What's he gonna do, go through the locks? That'd be the slowest escape in history. Do you even know what the Charles looks like?

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It was really cool being in a city where all the roadways are waterways and transporting oneself is accomplished via vaporettos (water buses) or foot. Saw a few kids on push strollers but no bikes. Land lanes are just too narrow.

I love being on the water, too. If I lived there, I'd have my own powerboat and/or kayak.

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because there are stairways EVERYWHERE.

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Problem:

The basin freezes over in winter.

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