Allston, Brighton residents call for continued involvement in Interstate I-90 Project


The preferred design (pictured here) for the Allston Interchange project was submitted to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office on Oct. 31. Courtesy photo

The preferred design (pictured here) for the Allston Interchange project was submitted to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office on Oct. 31. Courtesy photo

By Chrissie Long for the Allston-Brighton Tab


With a governor-elect opposed to new taxes, lost revenues in a scaled-back gas tax and the recent resignation of the state’s transportation secretary, residents in Allston and Brighton are concerned that their priorities for the Mass Turnpike redesign will be the first to go if the state decides the project is too expensive.

According to transportation officials, only $160 million has been appropriated for the I-90 Interchange redesign. Those funds are designated specifically to the replacement of the 50-year-old viaduct abutting the Charles River. Money has not yet been appropriated for improved pedestrian routes, a West Street station, an expanded bike path along the river and a safer Cambridge Street.

“All of the most important things for this community are on the (To Be Determined) list,” said Jessica Robertson, an Allston resident and I-90 Interchange Task Force member. “We need help from the elected officials … and continued community involvement … to make sure (those priorities) get carried forward.”

Representatives of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation could not commit to ongoing meetings of the 50-person task force, appointed to represent the community and stakeholder groups in the redesign of the Mass Pike at the Allston tolls. They said the process would continue to engage community representatives, but it may not be the same task force that has been working on the project since May 7, 2014.

The proposed project consists of a straightening of the Mass Pike, elimination of the tollbooths in favor of open road tolling, and the replacement of the viaduct that carries the highway over a narrow strip of land between Boston University and the Charles River.

On the last day of October, MassDOT submitted the Environmental Notification Form to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office for review – the first phase in the state approval process.

The 153-page document, which outlines the project scope as well as proposed designs, will be available online at the MassDOT Web site this week. The document outlines 16 conceptual designs that differ in the arrangement of ramp connections to Cambridge Street, in the height (elevated or at-grade) of proposed roadways, in the design of Cambridge Street and in pedestrian connections.

The preferred alternative pushes highway-like roads toward I-90 and envisions Cambridge Street as a calm and neighborly street. It also introduces a pedestrian path that connects the Boston University campus to the proposed West Station to the bike path that runs along the Charles River.

According to Joe Freeman, a consultant for the project, the next step in the process is to home in on the interchange design and the street network.

“We will be looking at the street grid itself and will determine how that would operate,” he said at the Nov. 5 meeting of the task force. Transportation officials will also focus on the staging process for the viaduct. The public is invited to comment on the Environmental Notification Form before the Nov. 25 deadline.


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