I have been working for a couple of years to put some planning structure around the various large transportation projects in the Boston end of my district. Working with my colleagues, Representatives Rushing and Livingstone, and with neighborhood and business associations in the Back Bay, Longwood and Fenway, I petitioned the state’s Central Transportation Planning Staff to conduct a capacity study — to give some idea as to the likely growth in the need to move people in and out of those neighborhoods as compared to available capacity.
As conversations with CTPS staff continued, the scope of the study expanded to include the inner core communities — Boston, Cambridge and Somerville and perhaps parts of other surrounding communities. This week the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization gave final approval to the work plan for the study.
Over the past couple of years, a few things that I was uncertain about have become fairly clear to me:
- There is huge unmet demand for public transportation across my district.
- The Green Line is especially underserved — packed trains pass packed stations and many riders eventually abandon the route for inability to board the trains.
- It does not make sense to add turnpike ramps in Fenway or Backbay.
- The Bowker overpass is necessary for the foreseeable future.
- A little less clear, and not so well studied, although it sort of follows from the Bowker study, we probably can’t do away with much capacity on Storrow Drive.
I am hopeful that the Core Capacity Study will shed light on some remaining big questions:
- How bad could the congestion get in the inner core?
- Is there a good case for a vastly more aggressive program of investment in new transit capacity — in my district and/or elsewhere?
- Should we be looking for any new pike-to-street connections, for example, in the space between the Allston interchange and Kenmore Square? That area was outside the scope of the recent turnpike ramp study.
Thanks, Will. Thanks for your last bullet point, Pike ramp to serve medical area. Also ramps off Storrow? Let’s take advantage of the opportunity we now have with work on Beacon rail yards site.
Not sure I see this, Mike — ramps from where to where?
The medical area is a long way from the Pike; where should it go to help the area without stomping through neighborhoods (as the Inner Belt would have, for those who remember that far back…).
However, there definitely needs to be a better connection from the local area to the Pike; going from Kenmore or BU areas to the Pike (currently 2 sides of a triangle — up Comm Ave then down Cambridge St.) will be much worse when Cambridge St. becomes more like a neighborhood street and less like an artery. (All the great ideas for making Cambridge St. more friendly won’t do much good if it’s jammed with non-local traffic.) A one-lane on-ramp — for instance, over the ~alley next to BU’s arena — would do a lot to reduce traffic on city streets.
Interesting thought — deserves study.
The basic issue of the routing model (hub and spoke) needs to be questioned. It is a 19th century planning design trying to be fit into the 21th century. By design there is no “alternate” route to work around a choke point. Computer networks adbandoned this concept decades ago. Imagine if a server went down, the internet would completely stop like what happens to the T
Completely agree — we need much more circumferential service.
The Urban Ring project (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_Ring_Project_(MBTA)) needs to be taken off the back burner and implemented as a priority project. Besides relieving gross overcrowding in the downtown hub subway stations, this project would connect the Longwood Medical Area, MIT, Harvard, BU, Northeastern, UMass Boston, MassArt, and many other institutions driving economic growth and employment in the area. Improving cross-town connectivity will help seed and foster spinoff starter businesses, and keep young talented students in the area after graduation.
I agree. It may resurface partially through use of the rail connection between Allston and Kendall. Controversial but interesting.
I agree about the needs around the Green line, but am also still hoping someone will develop a plan to address the issues around Route 2 and Alewife. More and more traffic continues to build up on the Belmont local roads which people use as a bypass- now the side streets off the main roads are filling in. I realize there is no simple solution, but still wish another parking garage along Route 2 could be set up.
We’ve been working on that too! Please see this link about the ongoing project at Alewife. The basic dynamic is: We can’t add capacity at that parking garage because we can’t get the cars in and out as it is. So, we need to improve the intersection first. Then, we can consider expanding the garage. It is not clear that the improvements will suffice to support garage expansion.
I agree with folks about the need to increase the Green Line Capacity. However, when talking about the Urban Ring and “Bus Rapid Transit” we need to be careful to not approve more large scale highway projects that will use eminent domain to clear out swaths of the inner city for more road capacity. The last iteration of the Urban Ring had a super highway to and from nowhere going along Melnea Cass Boulevard in Roxbury that would have substantially widened the roadway, displaced abutting business, made pedestrian passage very difficult and subjected the residents to increased pollution, traffic problems and etc.
Totally agree. When I think of the urban ring, I am thinking of transit solutions only. Nobody is talking about a new highway ring.
Thank you for this! I wish the B line was underground at least until Packard’s corner. Right now it has to stop at every cross street for the lights, and I agree about packed train cars. I go downtown a lot less than I would if the train was better, it takes too long.
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