Some would like to see a greener ‘throat’ in Boston

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
short line railroad
Eleven Hopedale residents have managed to put a land agreement with a short line railroader on pause.

Some are saying too many cars are planned to go down “the throat.” The Massachusetts Turnpike project that runs through Allston has one major and complex hurdle: How to fit eight lanes of traffic, a four-lane parkway, walking paths and four railroad tracks on a narrow piece of land that runs along the Charles River.

The Charles River Watershed Association believes the state needs to cut down on the car lanes, which would make room for public transit and recreation.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, however, will not consider the greener approach simply due to the fact that the section of turnpike sees 225,000 vehicles daily. The final plan is due in the fall, and any massive changes to the plan now would disrupt the start date for the project, which is expected to cost as much as $1 billion.

Goals must be achieved during the rebuild: The turnpike viaduct must be replaced, the highway needs to be straightened and safety elements need to be put in place like shoulders.

The idea is to keep the project labeled as multimodal, but critics are not seeing a transit/pedestrian-to-car balance. No studies have been conducted to see the impact of rail being expanded in the region, and the West Station will not be constructed until the highway work is complete, which many are predicting will take more than 10 years. A way to allow bike and walking paths over the Grand Junction railroad bridge that spans the Charles River between Boston and Cambridge also is not included in plans.

Still under consideration is a plan that includes a temporary viaduct that would extend more than 100 ft past the riverbank of the Charles River, and a third option to put everything at grade. However, the state does not want to disturb the river.

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