Assembly Square MEPA Testimony

(submitted to MEPA 4/5/07)

April 5, 2007

EOEA Secretary Ian A. Bowles
c/o deirdre.buckley@state.ma.us
Re: Project #13989 -- Assembly Square Mixed-Use Development.

Dear Secretary Bowles:

I am a supporter of the mixed-use development plan at Assembly Square, including the IKEA. As such, I ask that the EOEA, through its MEPA process, ensure that that mixed-used development plan takes place with due regard for the environmental impacts of the IKEA project. For that reason, I ask that you require the Phase 1 Environmental Impact Report for the IKEA project and, in the future, for every other project at Assembly Square.

According to the Environmental Notification Form, over 80% of the proposed 6000-1000 trips to and from IKEA will use Interstate 93. These trips will further congest I-93, which is already at a crawl near Assembly Square during rush hour inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening. The feeder roads to I-93, such as Route 28, were at saturation even before Federal Realty completed the "Marketplace" development at Assembly Square, which by itself brings over 15,000 trips per day to Assembly Square. Route 28 is even more congested now, and IKEA's development will increase the burden.

Congestion causes slow traffic, which in turn causes increased air pollution. Increased air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter, causes increased risk of lung disease and heart disease in people living near arterial roadways. Somerville already experiences excess deaths from heart and lung disease by comparison to cities in cleaner areas. In addition, increased NOx pollution causes increased eutrophication of water bodies near such roadways. The Mystic River is already heavily polluted; we should not increase its burden.

The potential environmental impacts of these developments are significant, and infrastructure does not currently exist to offset these impacts. Therefore, a Phase 1 waiver is not warranted. Furthermore, East Somerville near Assembly Square is an Environmental Justice area that has been abused by past transportation planning, such as the development of I-93 itself. Shoppers who come to IKEA from out of town are unlikely to bring business into East Somerville, so East Somerville may well suffer the environmental and traffic costs of the IKEA development while gaining no benefit. For environmental justice reasons, the state, through its MEPA process, should do all it can to mitigate the costs to East Somerville and to reduce its environmental impacts. I therefore ask that you require a Full Environmental Impact Report from IKEA and the other projects at Assembly Square.

Sincerely,

David Dahlbacka
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08-Apr-2007