Transportation Impact Study

Part of the special permit process is for the developer to submit a traffic study covering the impact of the project on neighborhood traffic, including congestion, parking on neighborhood streets, and safety.

The way this works is that the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department (TP&T) defines the study scope, the developer pays for a professional study, TP&T certifies it, and it becomes part of the permit application to be considered by the Planning Board. The Transport impact Study (TIS) Guidelines published by the Trafffic, Parking and Transportation department gives much more detail. According to the ordinance the Planning Board should grant the special permit only if it finds that the project will have "no substantial adverse impact on city traffic within the study area as analyzed in the Traffic Study", subject to proposed mitigation efforts. For more detail see section 19.24 of the zoning ordinance.

The specific criteria are spelled out in a memorandum on TP&T's web site and include 1) peak period trip generation, 2) decreased level of service (waiting times) at key intersections, 3) trips on residential streets, 4) queue lengths at signalized intersections, and 5) pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Although the zoning ordinance mentions parking on neighborhood streets, neither the scope nor the study considers it. City staff have expressed the opinion that the minimum required parking (one space per condo unit) is actually excessive considering the site's proximity to public transportation, and TP&T policy is to avoid providing parking above the minimum required level.

A draft of TP&T's draft scoping document is here. Unfortunately it limits the scope to those parts of Massachusetts Avene and Beech Street immediately adjacent to the church and car wash, ignoring nearby streets such as Orchard, Elm, and Blake streets.

The traffic study itself finds no adverse impacts, not surprisingly considering the limited scope. It shows a poor level of service on Beech southbound, but apparently the additional waiting time is not considered to be significant; i.e., it goes from bad to bad without a big additional impact.

Here is PSNA's supplementary letter to the Planning Board commenting on the traffic study, and here is TPTD's letter recommending certain mitigation requirements.