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State says it will rebuild Allston highway loop at ground level

StreetsblogMass reports MassDOT announced today that it will be replacing the current elevated loop system where the Allston/Cambridge tolls used to be on the turnpike and the neighboring stretch of Soldiers Field Road with a $1.7-billion ground-level set of roads.

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Why?

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Voting closed 8

Also, straightening out its curves will effectively give Harvard more land to develop at the old train yard it now owns, and that's just marvy.

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Voting closed 19

This is the best outcome for everyone. BU is even on board!

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This was by far the best variation of the configurations they proposed so I guess I should be happy. It's sad it took so much lobbying from just about every group and politician to get them to come around to that.

But, it still keeps I-90 at 8 lanes which is 2 lanes too many. There's no reason why they need a roadway so large through this stretch and it continues to prioritize driving over all else. 12 lanes of asphalt is too much. Reducing Mass Pike to 6 lanes (or 4 lanes) would allow the bike path to stay on land and reduce cost and complexity of the whole project.

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Voting closed 31

I really wish they would consider reducing the number of lanes on the Pike. Isn't Boston, and the state I think, trying to reduce the number of cars heading into the city by 2050? Building the same number of lanes back doesn't seem like a great way to achieve this. With the amount of effort it took to get MassDOT to choose the at-grade design, I really doubt they would remove any travel lanes.

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Voting closed 20

It's currently eight lanes

Of course, we could bring all those containers that are currently on trucks into Boston by rail. Oh wait, we used to have rail access. But the powers that be decided that using trucks east of Worcester woul;d be more efficent, and chose to close the rail yard and sell the land so a mega university could expand even more.

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If we could get more people to use the Transporter instead of driving, that would reduce the demand for these roads.

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Where I’m going, we don’t need roads.

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It's 6 lanes at other parts of the state. There is no requirement that it be 8 lanes.

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i agree with the point you’re making, but surely there should be more lanes entering Boston than there are in Ludlow

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It's only 4 lanes by the time is passes through Ludlow.

It's 6 lanes by the time it gets to Newton.

This is the point: 8 Lanes for the short section between Newton and Boston is more than it needs. There's not significantly more traffic that's going between Newton and the Airport to justify having it as a 8 lane road.

It was a mistake to make it so wide when the extension was built in 1964 and it's a mistaken to keep it so wide now.

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Voting closed 20

traffic wouldn't start to build up exactly where it goes from 8 to 6 lanes..

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That's a good argument to keep it at 6 lanes continuously so there's no merging.

The goal has never been to eliminate traffic. As others have noted, the less traffic on a road, the more people are drawn to use it, and the problem resumes.

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Voting closed 20

Otherwise, MassDOT would save the money and make it narrower.

I don't take the Pike around there, I do recall that it was a big deal when they took a few lanes out of service between this point and Copley Square a few years ago.

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Voting closed 5

If the Pike was 10 lanes all 10 would get used. If it was 12 lanes, all 12 would have traffic every so often.

MassDOT cares about political pressure, not saving money and the merits of smaller highways.

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Voting closed 17

Let's designate some of these lanes for trucks and containers only to improve that throughflow, and then we don't need as many lanes.

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which the state should consider in order to minimize intrusion into the Charles River:

- Do not build any shoulders for this part of either I-90 or Soldiers Field Road
- Reduce Soldiers Field Road lane widths to a bare minimum of 9 feet, which is acceptable since the road does not carry buses or trucks
- Remove the median of Soldiers Field Road, replacing it with a simple double-yellow line (as on Memorial Drive across the river)
- Reduce Mass Pike lane widths to 10 feet, except for one truck lane of 11 feet
- Reduce the Mass Pike median to the barest possible minimum

With these changes, you haven't removed any lanes or any capacity, and you're no longer filing the riverbank.

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Voting closed 22

Other than that which is required for basic safety reasons.

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Voting closed 7

Build no shoulders on the Pike? Great idea if nobody EVER breaks down. Here in reality, it's a stupid idea. They already address that on the Pike (as well as Soldiers' Field/Storrow and other area highways) by having short segments of breakdown lane at short intervals on alternating sides of the road - saving the need for one lane's-width of right-of-way and pavement.
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One 11' truck lane? When there's a major interchange in a mile and the exits to points south, north, and east each use a different one of the three lanes?

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Voting closed 4

If a shoulder is so important drop down to 6 lanes. EZ.

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Voting closed 11

Just no shoulders for this mile or so of rebuilt and relocated highways.

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Voting closed 13

seems like a pretty good reason to need a roadway "so large through this stretch". Drivers are prioritized bc there's more of us than there are self righteous bike lane users

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Voting closed 9

could cut down on those car trips. Building the Pike reduced the number of tracks and caused severe service reduction (such as no stops in Newton during much of the day).

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Voting closed 27

It's six lanes right now with the construction around Back Bay and nothing horrible has happened. There's only a small section of the road which is 8 lanes and it can be reduced to 6 without significantly affecting the corridor.

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Are there more drivers because people really really love driving, or because we keep building infrastructure that makes it so that people absolutely have to drive even if they might prefer not to?

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Voting closed 19

But some people have to leave the city and go places that aren't anywhere near any public transportation option. If you need to go to Natick for work/other needs you cant get there.

And then there's ppl who are smart enough to realize that their time is more valuable than it being wasted sitting on a green line train for an hour when a 20 minute trip can be made in the car to Newton or wherever.

Every street in the entire state is not accessible to public transit, nor will it ever be. You want to live in a world small enough to only be accessible by your bicycle, go for it. The rest of us will continue to live in the real workd

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Voting closed 9

Adding more lanes doesn't actually speed up traffic. Giving people more options of how to get between point A and B does.

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Voting closed 18

But the state shouldn't feel obligated to get them where they want to go as fast as possible. It's not as if dropping a single lane in each direction is going to prevent someone from using the Pike. If it slows them down by a few minutes, so what?

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Voting closed 15

is on the Worcester rail line that runs parallel to the pike. If the state increased service on that line, perhaps the Pike would not need so many lanes.

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Voting closed 11

A six lane Pike in Allston is plenty at midday and midnight. The question is how many inbound lanes do you need during the morning peak and how many outbound lanes do you need during the afternoon peak?

Fortunately, travel patterns are changing

"as state Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver recently said, it’s “different” than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, more dispersed throughout the day and generally less intense during rush hour... traffic on the Mass. Pike between I-95 and Boston remains down by more than a quarter in all directions during both the morning and evening peaks."

https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2021/09/07/massachusetts-traffic-...

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Voting closed 9

So it looks like for entrances and exits to a grade-level Pike, they're throwing a bunch of service roads and traffic lights at the problem. As a result, getting on the Pike from Soldiers Field Road will require passing through 4 additional traffic lights, and getting off will involve an additional 6 lights.

I don't see how dumping all that traffic through the new neighborhood will help anyone. People aren't going to stop driving from the Pike to Cambridge and Storrow Drive if the direct ramps and flyovers are gone. They'll just take longer and cause more problems for people in the new neighborhood.

I'm not sure what this new grid of major roads will look like on the ground, but if we leave it up to MassDOT, we could easily end up with all the charm and efficiency of South Bay, Albany Street, or the Mystic Ave spaghetti between 28 and Sullivan Square. Which are horrible for pedestrians and the neighborhood, and not particularly good at getting cars through quickly either.

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Will any of the new bridges be Storrowable?

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Voting closed 11