Pedestrian/Bicycle Underpass Advocacy
Central to the Charles River Conservancy’s mission is to enhance public access throughout the parklands. Since 2006, the Conservancy has advocated for pedestrian/bicycle underpasses to be included on the Boston side of the Anderson Memorial, Western Avenue, and River Street Bridges. The Conservancy has built a large coalition of supporters for its vision of a 7-mile uninterrupted, car-free corridor along the Charles River from downtown Boston all the way to Watertown.
Dangerous, traffic-congested intersections at Anderson, River Street and Western Ave. Bridges fragment the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path, posing a challenge to walkers, runners, cyclists, and skaters trying to cross. Including underpasses will increase fluidity for all path users, encourage safe commuting and recreational use of the parklands, improve access for wheelchair users, and promote carbon-free modes of transportation.
Illustration of Anderson Bridge underpass by Fennick McCredie Architecture. In 2014, the Conservancy commissioned a set of renderings of all three underpasses, with alternative designs, thanks to a grant from the Barr Foundation.
December 7, 2016: The proposed Underpass for the Anderson Memorial Bridge recently overcame a major hurdle: the Mass. Historical Commission (MHC) ruled that they accept the “adverse effect” of constructing an underpass, and gave MassDOT authorization to proceed with the design process, without formal consultation. Read the letter here.
November 2, 2016: MassDOT submitted a written request to the Mass. Historical Commission (MHC) to initiate the consultation process for the underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge. MHC’s input is critical for the underpass to be built.
August 18, 2016: DCR Commissioner Leo Roy submitted a letter to DOT Administrator Thomas Tinlin, providing “[DCR’s] support for the MassDOT proposed Grade-Separated Multiuse Path on the Boston side of the Anderson Memorial Bridge”. He also stated “the proposed connecting path and underpass will enhance recreational opportunities… and increase safety by eliminating conflicts with motor vehicles at the busy North Harvard Street crossing.”
May 13, 2016: An opportunity to secure funding for the eventual construction of the Anderson Memorial Bridge came in the form of MassDOT’s five-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP). The Conservancy co-signed a letter urging the inclusion of this underpass in the CIP, and over 200 individuals sent in comments.
October 22, 2015: A public meeting was held to discuss the underpass design at the Anderson Memorial Bridge. See the presentation here.
June 15, 2015: MassDOT resumed work on the design and permitting of the Anderson Memorial Bridge underpass. The Conservancy co-signed a letter thanking Secretary Pollack for her continued support of an underpass at the Anderson Bridge.
April 9, 2015: Work on the design and permitting of an underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge was paused in early 2015 while the Baker Administration reviewed current projects. On April 9, the Conservancy co-signed a letter to MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack urging her to restart the design and permitting process.
See the full list of supporters here.
MassDOT Supports Underpasses
On July 9th, 2014, representatives from the Conservancy, Livable Streets, the Cambridge Running Club, and the Boston Cyclists’s Union met with then-MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey, Highway Administrator Frank Depaola, and Operations and Maintenance Chief Tom Tinlin. At this meeting, Secretary Davey agreed to support the design and permitting of an underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge! Read the Conservancy’s letter to the Secretary and the Secretary’s letter confirming his commitment.
Boston’s Mayor Walsh Supports the Underpasses: Mayor Marty Walsh has written a letter to Governor Patrick and Transportation Secretary Richard Davey in support of the underpasses. He urges them to authorize permitting right away so that construction can begin as soon as state funds are available.
Letters from Key Supporters:
- Representative Livingstone, Mayor Walsh, Mayor Maher, and others write supporting statements, 8/21/14
- Congresswoman Clark writes to Governor Patrick and MassDOT Secretary Davey, 4/8/14
- Michelle Wu, Boston City Councilor At-Large, writes to MassDOT Highway Administrator DePaola, 1/29/14
- Ed Davis, Boston Police Commissioner, adds his support, 8/21/13
- Emily Shea, Boston Commissioner for Elderly Affairs, writes to MassDOT Highway Administrator DePaola, 7/5/13
- Remarks from the Accelerated Bridge Program Council meeting in support of underpasses, 1/7/13
- Brian Swett, Boston’s Chief of Environment and Energy, writes to MassDOT Highway Administrator DePaola, 9/25/12
- Cambridge City Council resolution in support of underpasses, 4/7/12
- Congressman Capuano writes to MassDOT Chief Engineer Broderick, 4/1/12
- Tom Tinlin, Boston Transportation Commissioner, writes to MassDOT Highway Administrator DePaola, 4/6/12
- Watertown Town Council writes to MassDOT Acting Chief Engineer Thomas Broderick, 1/16/12
For more information to learn how you can help, or to make a press inquiry, please contact SJ Port at 617.300.8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.