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.