Conversations have been heating up as MassDOT’s Allston I-90 project team has firmed up a proposal for environmental review.
The most controversial aspect of the proposal is to hold construction of the new West Station until an uncertain distant future date (“2040”). Representative Mike Moran led the authorship of a strong legislators’ letter, which I joined, expressing concern about this. Many others are speaking out.
Harvard, in a letter dated January 23, has taken a step to encourage earlier construction of the station. Harvard has offered to contribute:
- $8 million to fund an early action commuter station — this would be a basic station, like the station near New Balance, that could offer commuter service to the neighborhood relatively soon.
- $50 million to the construction of the longer-term multi-modal station that would ultimately join multiple bus and rail lines — this amounts to roughly half the cost of the long-term station.
Harvard recognizes MassDOT’s concerns about the need to match service to demand and that demand will become easier to project as development plans are better defined for the area. But Harvard echoes the legislators’ letter stating that:
Harvard . . . hopes that as MassDOT considers taking advantage of the University’s financial commitment to an “early action” station, it will consider the years of construction inconveniences endured by the local community in furtherance of this regional project in addition to assessing ridership and finances.
Indeed, this point is well made. Certainly, there can be some timeline for transit expansion that recognizes the growth of demand. But the Allston-Brighton area deserves transit improvement as soon as possible. The community has long suffered from the creation of the pike and its ramp system in the middle of family neighborhoods. It will only suffer more while the project is under construction and ultimately as new development increases congestion.
Our continuing effort has to be to make sure that the needs of the community are fully appreciated by those scoping the project. You can read Harvard’s letter here and I’d very much welcome your thoughts on it. For more background, skip back to this previous post.
This is an important contribution by Harvard. Transportation projects take much too long around here (Green Line Extension?) without postponing them to 2040 (a/k/a never). We need to start building a transportation system for the future now, not later. However, a close-in station won’t be worth much without much more frequent service than is now offered, and that will require DMUs or EMUs (diesel or electric multiple units). It also requires the North-South Rail Link.
Agreed we need to get to more frequent service.
How does the N-S rail link fit in to this puzzle?
South Station is unable to handle more than the current service, even though I see empty tracks at rush hour. It would be more efficient if trains could run through to destinations on the north side. And let’s not talk of South Station Expansion. That would just waste hundreds of millions of dollars that would be better spent on NSRL and will eventually need to be spent. More frequent service doesn’t have to go to the ends of the lines, but it should go to Lynn, Woburn, Waltham, Newton, etc. Making trains change direction at South or North Station is inefficient.
Also, see this report: https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2018/01/29/boston-s-transit-system-suffers-from-lack-of.html and the ULI study it’s based on.
Why is there a difference in projecting use between car traffic on highways (if you build it, the highway will fill up and if you build public transportation, it will fill up).
It is true that the service is not frequent enough. In fact it is ridiculously infrequent. Compare with European systems where trains come at least every half hour. But this can be adjusted once you have the infrastructure. Without the latter we will never alleviate the already unbearable congestion with delays and health and social justice associated costs, including pollution, stress, high blood pressure, accidents, lack of access to people with low means or children and seniors, etc
Thanks for posting this .and your prior posting on this. Startling bad public policy decision by Bakert and DOT. Harvard’s monetary commitment should force them to reconsider.
Thanks for staying on top of this and other transportation issues and making them priorities. Three cheers for Harvard! I hope the Baker administration revisits their awful decision. BU should consider upping their contribution, as well.
I would like a facebook post to share on this. Many of those who are my facebook friends are far better versed on MBTA issues, as well as impacted by them.
Thanks, Deb. Visit my facebook page — there is a post on this there: Will Brownsberger”.
Would really appreciate your sharing it.
I don’t live near there but Harvard is certainly being proactive and logical.
In fact, its financial contribution and thought about the neighborhood are going to make the area better and safer sooner.
MassDot’s plan will be much slower and less efficient, sadly.
The complete and multi-modal station should be a priority and early element of the I-90 upgrades. We know that traffic is an ongoing a worsening nightmare here in Boston. Mass transit must be improved and expanded to help. This will also help reduce Massachusetts emissions.
Definitely early action needed. Thank you
I also want full station and North-South Rail Link. Harvard’s promise is one step towards it…
Harvard will benefit so much.
They have 39 Billion in hand. There should be more in the offering
I appreciate Harvard’s urging the legislature to act now, not later, and to put their $ where their mouth is. I, too, am very much in favor of getting the multimodal station done as soon as possible – it won’t get any easier or cheaper by waiting. And you’re right, the people in Allston/Brighton (much like residents in many other Boston neighborhoods) have already waited too long for robust transit services.
Mass transit and public transportation is an absolute necessity for now and future development and sustainability…it is ironic that this is all happening now in that since the 1950’s public and commercial transportation had been neglected and whole neighborhoods plowed under for interstate highway development…
let’s not be short sighted and neglect neighborhood viability but still try to develop the necessary bus and train capabilities needed to grow the new economy…
Maybe we should discontinue the mass pike, turn it into a double tracked both directions commuter rail to the western end. so if you want to get to Boston from the western part of the state it is the train or bike or walk. The surplus land sold off to fund the project.
What’s the whole deal worth to Harvard?
A swap of property gives “Harvard-Alston”, the River view rather than a view of the rail yard and Pike. What’s the value of that in comparison with $50 Million?
For example, what if Massachusetrs just took the property it needs to “straighten the Pike, and sold the river view property it owns to the highest bidder? Could the net gain fund more of the Pike project? I.e. Rail Station, DCR park land, access by rail and bike (one or more) across the BU rail bridge, and to MIT, and to Kendall, and to North Station?
A taking is a risky and expensive approach and one can’t use it just to profit. One has to pay the value of what one takes, so their should be no net gain.
Harvard is doing the right thing, though one has to wonder whether the state is using the proposed delay as a negotiating ploy to extract more money from pockets other than the state. That game has to end very soon. In any event, it is vital that planning include additional transit access to the new station, e.g., by bus from Watertown, a community relatively underserved by the T.
The community has long suffered from the creation of the pike and its ramp system in the middle of family neighborhoods.
Um, please know your local history. Virtually all the land occupied by the pike interchange was formerly the Boston & Albany steam locomotive terminal. it was not “family neighborhoods.” Look at old aerial photographs from the 1930s and earlier and also maps available from the Alston Historical Society.
That said, the station should happen before 2040.
No doubt, but the interchange attracts and releases traffic into the neighborhoods around it.
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