17.3 min readBy Published On: February 17th, 2016Categories: News0 Comments on Coalition Against IndyCar Boston – Another Statement

Looks like some Southie residents aren’t thrilled with Grand Prix Boston.  Another statement was released on Tuesday with an environmental twist.  

February 16, 2016 Statement of Larry Bishoff, Co-Chair, Coalition Against Indycar Boston (“CAIB”)

“We are submitting a supplemental letter today to the MEPA office that responds to efforts made by the Promoter to avoid environmental review of the proposed Indycar Race.  Contrary to some reports, this is not an effort to derail the Race through “red tape”.  We have serious concerns about the huge harmful impacts that the Indycar race will create on the Seaport, including noise, traffic, construction, and public transportation and safety impacts.  Most people who learn of the real impacts of the Race immediately ask why and how could this possibly happen in Boston.  We’ve received no response from the Mayor to our concerns.  So, we’re asking the responsible state environmental officials to take a look at these major impacts on our neighborhoods before the Race becomes a ‘done deal’.”

CAIB submitted a letter to Mayor Walsh dated January 19, 2016 requesting that he cancel the Race, and offering to meet to explain our concerns.  CAIB has not received any response from the Mayor.  Today we are sending a second letter to the Mayor as well.​

See letter below:

February 16, 2016

By Hand and Email

Deirdre Buckley, Assistant Secretary

Exec. Office of Energy and Env. Affairs

100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900 Boston, Massachusetts 02108

Re:  Boston Grand Prix / IndyCar Boston – Review under MEPA

Dear Assistant Secretary Buckley:

Based on additional information obtained subsequent to my February 8, 2016 letter to you (“February 8 Letter”), I am writing in further support of Coalition Against Indycar Boston’s (“CAIB”) request that you require the Race Promoter to file an ENF, an EIR, and NPCs regarding the proposed Race.

On February 9 there was a public hearing where the Promoter revealed additional information regarding the design and construction of the Race Project.  On February 10, the Promoter posted on its website additional maps and construction schedules regarding the Race.     http://www.pdf.investintech.com/preview/af9f86f4-d019-11e5-9555-002590d31986/index.html

(attached hereto as Exhibit A).  On February 11, you kindly forwarded to me a copy of a letter to you from the Promoter’s consultant Howard Stein Hudson (the “February 5 HSH Letter”) (attached hereto as Exhibit B) that had not been provided to us earlier by the Promoter, despite repeated requests.  On February 12, the Promoter posted an additional map of the Race course and facilities on its website.  http://indycarboston.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Boston-160210-MASTER-Model.pdf (attached hereto as Exhibit C).  All of this additional information confirms that the Race exceeds multiple MEPA thresholds and requires filing of an ENF, EIR, and NPCs.

  1. Widening of Roads By More Than Four Feet for More Than A Half-Mile.

That the Race involves widening of roads by more than four feet for more than one half-mile, thereby exceeding the threshold in 301 CMR 11.03(6)(b)1.b, is further confirmed as follows:

  1. The Race map attached to the February 5 HSH Letter shows widening of Cypher Street for its entire length.  See Exhibit B.  The Promoter stated at the February 9 public hearing that Cypher Street would be widened to the south.  Whether that is the case is not clear from any of the maps provided by the Promoter.  On the other hand, the widening to the north, toward the BCEC parking lots, is now starkly reflected on the maps.  Indeed, these new maps now show the doubling of the width of Cypher Street as a new lane providing entry to the pit lanes located next to the SBBR.  See Exhibits B, C, and D (which is an enlargement of Exhibit C in the area of Cypher Street).
  1. The new maps also now show that the pit lanes will be built essentially by widening West Service Road to the west all the way to the SBBR.  West Service Road currently parallels the SBBR to the east and is used by the BCEC for service purposes.  Compare Exhibit B, pit lane area, with Exhibit E, an overhead view from Google Maps of the Cypher Street/West Service Road/SBBR area.
  1. The Promoter’s new Construction Schedule (Ex. A at page 8) shows:
  • 11 weeks of work widening Congress Street (median, sidewalk removal, etc.)
  • 4 weeks of work widening the SBBR (fence and guardrail removal)
  • 1 week of work widening D Street (median removal)
  • 2 weeks of work widening Silver Line Way (roadway widening)
  • 4 weeks of work widening the SBBR and W. First Street by creating a new intersection
  • 10 weeks of work widening Cypher Street (roadway widening)
  • 1 week of work widening Fargo Street (median removal)
  • Not depicted is what time will be required to widen West Service Road to create the pit lanes.
  1. The Promoter’s new digital graphics of how the roads will look post-construction show a widened Congress Street without the currently-existing median, sidewalks, and light poles (Ex. A at pp. 10-13), and a widened D Street without the currently-existing medians (Ex. A at 14-17).  The graphics do not include any views of the to-be-widened Cypher Street, West Service Road, Silver Line Way, SBBR, Fargo Street, and new intersection at SBBR and W. First Street.
  1. The last page of the materials posted by the Promoter on its website, Exhibit A at p. 27, reveals that the Promoter plans to build a new intersection at the SBBR and W. First Street.  The Promoter proposes to extend W. First Street westward across railroad tracks to this new intersection.  Currently W. First Street ends approximately 170 feet from the SBBR, and is separated from it by privately-owned property and multiple rail lines.  See Exhibit F (street map of SBBR-W. First Street area), Exhibit G (Google Maps overhead view), and Exhibit H (photos taken on February 11 of the area).  As set forth in Section 3 below, this new proposed intersection by itself meets a MEPA threshold as a new interchange on a limited access highway (the SBBR) and requires an ENF and an EIR.  But even aside from the intersection itself, the widening of the SBBR at the intersection, along with the widening of W. First Street to meet it, are further proof that the Race construction will widen more than one half miles of roads by more than four feet.
  1. The February 5 HMH Letter states that plus or minus 3.1 acres of land will be rendered impervious by the Race project.  Ex. B at p. 1.  The only means by which such land will be rendered impervious is by widening roads.  After all, the Race does not involve building of any structures that will render land impervious.  3.1 acres  equals 135,036 s.f. of widened roads.  This is the equivalent of widening the entire 2.25 mile Race Course by more than 11 feet.

In sum, together with the maps previously provided showing details of road widening at specific streets and intersections, February 8 Letter, Exhibit D and Exhibit O, Map 1, the new maps and information revealed by the Promoter leave no doubt that the road widening threshold of 301 CMR 11.03(6)(b)1.b will be met by the Race Project.

  1. Vehicle Trips in Excess of 3000 ADT/Parking/Public Transportation.  That the Race involves ADT in excess of 3000, thereby exceeding the threshold in 301 CMR 11.03(6)(a)6, is shown by:
  1. The February 5 Letter states that the Promoter expects 20,000-25,000 new spectator vehicle trips each day of the Race weekend in 2016.  The February 5 Letter also acknowledges that at least this same number of trips is projected for years 2017-2020 of the Race.  Thus, the 3000 ADT level is exceeded manyfold.  It does not matter that this number of trips will not occur each day of the year.  Because the Race qualifies as a Project under MEPA and will generate far more than 3000 vehicle trips each day, the Promoter is required to file an ENF and an EIR.  This is the consequence of the Promoter choosing to use public roads for the Race that require issuance of state permits and a Land Transfer by licensing of the roads, and entering into a Letter of Intent reflecting that several state agencies are Proponents of the Project.  If the Promoter wishes to avoid the MEPA requirements, it can and should move the Race to an alternate location where the state is not involved.  Compare Ten Persons of the Commonwealth v. Fellsway Development LLC, 2015 WL 1603595, *6-7 (Mass. Super. Ct.) (Krupp, J.) (developer successfully modified project to avoid construction on state reservation and any state permit or financial assistance; no MEPA jurisdiction remained over state agency or developer).
  1. At the February 9 public hearing, the Promoter stated that it expected 150,000 spectators for the Race (down from 250,000, see my February 8 letter, Exhibit B at p. 1).  Assuming two spectators per vehicle, 50,000 people will travel to the Race by car, leaving 100,000 to travel by public transportation or on foot.  The Promoter has not indicated how the already-strapped MBTA will handle this huge influx, including on Friday, September 2, 2016, a week day, work day, and student-move-in day.
  1. The Promoter has not indicated where the 25,000 vehicles will park, especially in light of the facts that (i) Seaport garages and parking lots will be filled with cars of Seaport residents, whose access to their own buildings’ garages will be blocked by the Race and whose cars the Promoter has agreed to relocate; and (ii) BCEC parking lots are not available for public parking during the Race.
  1. At the February 9 public hearing, numerous concerns were voiced by residents and commuters about bike safety in light of the substantial traffic involved with the Race as well as road blockages and construction.  The Promoter has not addressed these concerns.
  1. New Intersection at SBBR and W. First Street.  For the first time, the promoter has revealed that it plans to build a new intersection by extending W. First Street westward some 170 feet across private property and multiple railroad tracks to meet the SBBR.  See Exhibit A at p. 27, “New W. 1st St. Connection to South Boston Bypass.”  The Promoter has indicated that it will take four weeks to extend W. First Street and build a new intersection with the SBBR.  Id. at 8.  The apparent purpose of this new intersection is to divert trucks going to and from the BMIP and Conley Marine Terminal which can no longer use the SBBR during the Race week.  This intersection and diversion of truck traffic require MEPA review because:
  1. The intersection constitutes a new interchange on a completed limited access highway which requires an ENF and a mandatory EIR.  See 301 CMR 11.03(6)(a)2.  Your August 10, 2015 letter regarding the SBBR states that it is a “limited access highway.”  See my February 8 Letter, Exhibit Q, at p.14.  That the intersection may not be used or may be blocked off after the Race does not affect whether the threshold has been met.  The facts that a new interchange will be built, will be used at least for the 2016 Race, and may well be used for Races for 2017-2020 and beyond–especially in light of the careful limitations already placed by your office on use of the SBBR, see id.– are sufficient to trigger review under MEPA.
  1. The road extension/new intersection will require removal of multiple railroad tracks.  See Exhibits G and H.
  1. The new intersection will require access to and control of private property between the SBBR and the western end of W. First Street, and the Promoter has not shown that it will have such access and control.
  1. The private property that will need to be acquired and built upon, as well as adjacent property, may contain PCBs and other hazardous waste.  See my February 8 Letter, Exhibit O, Map 2 (showing PCB concentrations between the SBBR and B Street south of Cypher street).  See also materials attached hereto as Exhibit I, regarding West First Street, Release Tracking Number 3-21146, available at http://public.dep.state.ma.us/SearchableSites2/Site_Info.aspx?textfield_RTN=3-0021146&searchType=ALL&CurrentPage=1; Exhibit J, Notice of Activity and Use Limitation for RTN 3-21146; Exhibit K, Activity and Use Limitation Opinion for RTN 3-21146.
  1. The new intersection will create a new truck route that violates binding restrictions on the SBBR, see my February 8 Letter at pp. 13-14, and whose impacts have never been reviewed by the Agencies, the local community, or interested transportation associations.  MassPort’s most recent map of existing and proposed truck routes in the Seaport/South Boston area makes no mention of this new proposed route.  See MassPort Marine Terminal Request for Proposals dated February 1, 2016, Appendix, Figure 5-Truck Routes, attached hereto as Exhibit  P.  The lengthy South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan, the product of intense collaboration by multiple constituencies and governmental agencies over several years, contains no mention of this proposed new route.  See http://www.abettercity.org/docs/2015.01.15%20SBoston%20Waterfront_Full_Report_PB.pdf.
  1. Cypher Street PCBs.  At the February 9 public hearing, the Promoter stated that it intends to widen Cypher Street to the south as well as to the north.  Your office should require the Promoter to clarify exactly which properties will be affected by the widening of Cypher Street to the south because multiple properties to the south have experienced releases of hazardous waste, have been given release tracking numbers, and have been the subject of environmental monitoring for PCB and other contamination.  See Exhibit L, chart of RTNs and AULs for properties north and south of Cypher Street, and map showing location of RTN properties.

In any event, the map attached to the February 5 Letter confirms that the Promoter intends to widen Cypher Street substantially to the north, using property owned by the MCCA.  The widening will include what appears to be an entry lane to the pit lanes at the SBBR and West Service Road.  This lane apparently will be constructed on what currently is a gravel area between Cypher Street and BCEC parking lots.  This construction will apparently require removal of multiple trees and consequent displacement of soil.  See Exhibit M, an overhead map of the existing area.  All of the MCCA property to the north of Cypher Street is subject to release tracking under the MCP.  See Exhibit L.  The construction may also affect monitoring wells located in the gravel area.  See Exhibit N, Haley & Aldrich Site and Groundwater Monitoring Plan, EM-1 Remediation Site, July 2010.

Importantly, this widening of Cypher Street and entry lane into the pit area will cross not only the EM-1 cap covering PCBs located below and north of Cypher Street, but also uncapped areas where complete remediation of PCBs never occurred.  See October 24, 2000 Haley & Aldrich Report to MassDEP and US EPA re: New Cypher Street Assessment Data and Regulatory Approach, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, attached hereto as Exhibit O.  This report discusses the construction of New Cypher Street and the PCB concentrations in the area.  It makes clear that there are areas outside the EM-1 cap that contained high levels of PCBs that were not going to be permanently remediated as part of the construction of Cypher Street.  For example, PCBs were detected at a level of 30 mg/kg (location sample HA11-S1) 0-2.5 feet below surface, outside the cap and outside the Permanent Roadway, a level of contamination far in excess of the applicable cleanup standard of 2 mg/kg.  Id. at pp. 5-6; Figure 5, Exploration Location Plan, p. 27; and Figure 6, Summary of PCBs in Soil, p. 28.  The widening of Cypher Street proposed by the Promoter will go through or near this very area on its way into the pit lanes.

The potential impacts of Race roadway construction on PCBs in this area pose significant risks to the spectators who will be using the skyboxes and grandstands that the Promoter proposes to erect in this area, as well as to the drivers and the pit crews who will be directly on top of PCBs.  The residents of the Seaport who live barely one hundred yards away from this area and whose children play in the playground at Richards Street just across from this area are justifiably very concerned about these risks. We respectfully request that your office require review of these PCB risks and appropriate LSP opinions before the Race Project may proceed.

At the February 9 public hearing, the Promoter indicated that both it and the MCCA had prepared reports regarding these issues, but we are not aware that they have been submitted to your office.  If they have been, we would kindly request that we be provided copies of them.  Although the EPA must approve any road construction in this area, we understand that neither the Promoter nor the MCCA has yet submitted any reports to that agency either.

  1. Silver Line.  At the February 9 public hearing, the Promoter acknowledged that the Silver Line Way Station of the MBTA’s Silver Line would be out of service during Race weekend.  The Promoter did not address published reports that Silver Line service to the airport would be interrupted by the Race.  The Promoter has proposed an incredibly convoluted routing of the Silver Line service that beggars belief.  See Exhibit A, at pp. 21-23.  These impacts on public rapid transit exceed applicable thresholds and warrant review by your office.  See 301 CMR 11.03(6)(b)11.
  1. Noise.  At the February 9 public hearing, the Promoter offered no response to the illegal and harmful noise levels for the Race.  See my February 8 Letter at pp. 10-11.  The Promoter also took the position that no permits were required for the extraordinarily high noise levels.  Noise caused by the multiple car and truck races being held each day, see On-Track Event Schedule, Exhibit A at p. 7, by itself will far exceed lawful limits.  Together with associated concert and crowd noise, including at the newly-relocated finish line near A Street, the total noise caused by the Race will be unbearable and cries out for review by your office.

6. Fid Kennedy Way.  At the February 9 public hearing, the Promoter admitted that it had leased Parcel M-1 in the BMIP from MassPort for barrier storage for the Race and that such storage would continue indefinitely after the Race. The Promoter did not address the fact that Master Chapter 91 License 10233 does not permit a non-water dependent use of the parcel.  Such use of Parcel M-1 for barrier storage violates c. 91 and requires filing of an ENF and EIR.  See 301 CMR 11.03(3)(a)5 and (b)5.

Based on the above and the information provided in my February 8 Letter, we respectfully request that you determine that the Promoter is required to file an ENF, EIR and NPCs for the proposed Race Project.  If you determine that the Race Project does not exceed MEPA thresholds, we would appreciate an explanation of your decision.  In such case, I anticipate that members of CAIB will submit a petition for fail-safe review pursuant to 301 CMR 11.04 and if necessary challenge the Promoter’s non-compliance with MEPA pursuant to M.G.L. c. 214, § 7A.  However, it is my understanding that a fail-safe petition will be unnecessary because multiple thresholds under 301 CMR 11.03 have in fact been met by the proposed Race Project.

Thank you for your attention to this matter of major public concern.

Very truly yours,

David E. Lurie


cc: (w/encl. by email)

Coalition Against IndyCar Boston

Thomas J. Tinlin, Highway Administrator, MassDOT

Thomas P. Glynn, Executive Director, MassPort

David Gibbons, Executive Director, Mass. Convention Center Authority

Frank DePaola, Executive Director, MBTA

Martin Walsh, Mayor, City of Boston

Martin Suuberg, Commissioner, Mass. Dept. of Env. Protection

Maura Healey, Attorney General

Carl Spector, Director, Environment Dept., Boston Air Pollution Control Commission

Michael Dennehy, Boston Public Improvements Commission

John Casey, Chief Financial Officer, Grand Prix of Boston, LLC

The Honorable Charles Baker

Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Transportation

Lon Povich, Legal Counsel for the Governor

Nick Collins, State Representative

Linda Dorcena Forry, State Senator

William Linehan, City Councilor

Michael Flaherty, City Councilor

Anissa Essaibi-George, City Councilor

Ayanna Pressley, City Councilor

Michelle Wu, City Councilor

Glenn Cunha, Inspector General

Suzanne Bump, State Auditor

Matthew A. Cahill, Boston Finance Commission

Gina Fiandaca, City of Boston, Transportation Department Commissioner

William B. Evans, City of Boston, Police Commissioner

Chris Cook, City of Boston, Parks and Recreation

Chris Osgood, City of Boston, Street Commissioner

Dr. Huy Nguyen, City of Boston, Public Health Commission

Eugene L. O’Flaherty, Esq., City of Boston, Corporation Counsel

Kimberly Tisa, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Joanne Fagan, MassDEP

Lauren Grymek, Executive Director for Seaport Transportation Management Association

Julie Wormser, Executive Director, Boston Harbor Association

Gary Godinho, South Boston Waterfront Neighborhood Association

Patricia A. Foley, Save the Harbor

Peter Shelley, Conservation Law Foundation

Joe Rogers, Fort Point Neighborhood Association

Paul Greeley, Saint Vincent’s Lower End Neighborhood Association

Stephen Lynch, U.S. Congressman

Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator

Edward Markey, U.S. Senator

Mike Powers, United States Postal Service

Richard J. Stavis, Boston Marine Park Business Association

Lissa Schwab, Fort Point Channel Landmarks District Commission

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For more information, contact CAIB at [email protected].

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