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Design a Better Boston Are you disappointed with the state of Boston's current architecture/development? Think you have a better idea? Post it here.

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Old 10-30-2010, 09:53 PM   #1
BostonUrbEx
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Mass Pike Allston Improvements

http://www.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF...067158af08a676

The Pike would dive below ground at Cambridge St, with ramps to/from Cambridge Street. The Beacon Yard would be at least partially preserved and Harvard is traded land proportionate to that taken in turn for Beacon Yard preservation for future use. Soldiers Field road would dive below ground and merge into the Pike eastbound. The Storrow would also merge into the Pike westbound, below ground from the BU Bridge. The Pike would come back up to it's present grade at Essex St. The Charles River walk would be improved in the free area between BU bridge and the Harvard campus/where Soldier Field Rd surfaces.

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forget it ever happening, its too great an idea.
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:37 AM   #2
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Re: Mass Pike Allston Improvements

You have the pike underground, but what about the rail ROW? I don't see much improvement to the area if the pike is underground but the rail ROW still maintains the barrier between neighborhoods.
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Old 11-01-2010, 04:35 PM   #3
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Re: Mass Pike Allston Improvements

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You have the pike underground, but what about the rail ROW? I don't see much improvement to the area if the pike is underground but the rail ROW still maintains the barrier between neighborhoods.
I'd have to get a better feel for the area but you could perhaps deck over any entrenched rail/highway ROWs. The rail yard would have to be open-air though. I was looking more towards a better organization of ramps and tolls. The way it is now is how it would be if I-695 was built and connected there. So all those massive ramps are a waste of space. My primary intent was to free up space and also maintain the rail infrastructure in place.
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:42 PM   #4
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Re: Mass Pike Allston Improvements

(Hello. Longtime lurker here, but those of you who frequent Railroad.net probably recognize me.)


The Pike would benefit from a straighter alignment and less convoluted ramps through Beacon Park on traffic management grounds alone, nevermind reclaiming more contiguous land for the new neighborhood. Also, with so much highway infrastructure like this overbuilt decades ago with provisions for eventually canceled connecting expressways, it's a better long-term practice to simplify the infrastructure rather than patch-in-place a design contingent on connectors that'll never be built. They can more than halve the amount of steel, concrete, and land eaten up at that exit with a good straightening, which in turn dramatically lowers the multi-decade cost of maintaining it. That should be on the state's mind as ALL of the ramps/tolls-approach infrastructure there is well past its useful life and can't last another 20 years without a major rebuild.

Where things could really improve is if it were put in a 'canyon' cut like on the Boston side of the tolls. It's the visual blockage of an elevated or embankment highway that separates neighborhoods and inhibits crossing even where streets do pass under. You can reconnect the street grid above on overpasses without having the same problems. Look no further than a mile down. Are BU South Campus and Central Campus, Audubon Circle and Kenmore, Brookline and BU, Hynes T stop and Boylston St., Back Bay and South End sheared off from each other by the canyon? No...not in any way that affects pedestrian or local traffic movement. Did the North End and Seaport seem a million miles away from downtown with the elevated Artery blocking them...absolutely. Does Assembly Square seem a million miles away from East Somerville because of the I-93 embankment and decks...you bet. Are people coming from Cambridge St. and N. Beacon going to pass through longish tunnels under the sprawling toll embankment to get to the attractions built on the other side...probably not. It's a psychological barrier when you can't see what's on the other side, it's dark/loud/smelly crossing under, it's unsanitary because of the confined exhaust and pigeon droppings, and it's less safe because of unsavory characters who set up there. You have none of those issues on an open-air overpass, and the highway below isn't a distraction when crossing on a wide sidewalk protected by tall and well-armored fence.

As for the tracks, the right-of-way is 4 tracks wide from Market St. to Cambridge St. because of the Beacon Park yard leads, and you would have similar 4-track room if the Pike were realigned arrow-straight through the yard, future-proofing the space for eventual additional tracks or Allston commuter rail station. The yard is already somewhat below street grade with a walled embankment (about same height as Mountfort St. vs. tracks) separating it from BU. They could either leave as-is and overpass the new street grid on bridges like they do on the Pike stretch through Kenmore, or if they wanted to provision for decking-over and air rights/parkland they can shave a few more feet down and get a proper-depth cut without much effort.

The portion of deck from the Agganis Arena curve to Comm Ave. would have to stay, joined by a new incline built from the straightened alignment. That stretch isn't wide enough to fit the tracks, Pike, Storrow, and bike path side-by-side at grade. But you'd eliminate the S-curves on either side of the tolls, get rid of a ton of deficient ramps and bridges lingering, and replace the whole convoluted works with much shorter and easier-to-maintain infrastructure.


This is exactly what Connecticut is planning to do with the crumbling I-84 viaduct through Hartford, itself overbuilt in the 60's for interchange with canceled crosstown expressways. They're aiming to replace the viaduct with extension of the current downtown canyon, straightening out two S-curves, realigning and depressing the Amtrak tracks into the same canyon to eliminate a decrepit winding RR viaduct and reclaim new Bushnell Park land, putting the street grid on new overpasses, provisioning for deck-over air rights on the whole stretch, and vastly simplifying the insane maze of twisting ramps. And the rationale moving it forward is future cost as much as it is stitching the city back together. Straight cuts and straight ramps don't have to be heavy-rehabbed again and again like elevated structures and curvy ramps, so the 50+ year costs projected much lower overall with the major-surgery option vs. the maintain-in-place option.
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Old 11-04-2010, 08:28 AM   #5
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Re: Mass Pike Allston Improvements

Great thoughts - thanks for posting here!
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Old 11-05-2010, 11:22 PM   #6
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Re: Mass Pike Allston Improvements

Bostonurbex,

Love the concept you came up with. I modified it a bit to integrate the Pike on/off ramps with a future street grid, which extends to Comm Ave to provide a direct Comm Ave/Mass Pike access. Also the connecting one-way couplet to Comm Ave from the Pike and Cambridge Street would relieve the current congestion on Harvard Ave, and provide a good connection for development on the old rail yards.

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Old 11-06-2010, 12:31 PM   #7
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Re: Mass Pike Allston Improvements

Simply beautiful.
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Old 11-08-2010, 09:35 AM   #8
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Re: Mass Pike Allston Improvements

I think that reconnecting Harvard Ave and Franklin Street would have more impact than connecting BU with North Allston, which, as far as I know, have always been disconnected by the yards.

Also, I'd like to see Soldiers' Field Road eastbound feed directly onto the eastbound pike - and conversely the westbound Pike allowing a direct exit onto westbound Soldiers Field Road. Combined with Back Bay exit ramps on the pike (another necessary improvement), this would eliminate the need for Storrow as a limited-access highway.

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Old 11-08-2010, 03:02 PM   #9
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Re: Mass Pike Allston Improvements

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Also, I'd like to see Soldiers' Field Road eastbound feed directly onto the eastbound pike - and conversely the westbound Pike allowing a direct exit onto westbound Soldiers Field Road. Combined with Back Bay exit ramps on the pike (another necessary improvement), this would eliminate the need for Storrow as a limited-access highway.
Could be easily done. The train yard extends underneath the whole length of the elevated Pike, so most of that space is going to be vacated without any practical new use. Since the viaduct has to stay due to cramped space you could easily tuck longish collector/distributor ramps underneath it taking you to/from the Pike, Soldiers Field Road, and BU Bridge/Comm Ave./Mountfort St. connector. There's already that no-man's land space/hobo park and the authorized vehicle Pike access ramp on the Storrow side which could be repurposed, so that's where you can ramp up to the Boston direction of the BU Bridge. There'd be other nooks and crannies to fit ramps going outbound. It would provide a bona fide downtown traffic siphon off of Storrow, and you'd have better ramp options on the relocated Pike to hit every direction Allston and Cambridge way with well-organized flow and no surface disruption because it's all tucked under that dank viaduct.

The only remaining tracks underneath the viaduct after the yard closes will be the Worcester Line thru tracks and the Grand Junction branch split that peels across the river. If ramps had to traverse the tracks they could either put the tracks in a short/cheap cut-and-cover tunnel box, exactly the same make as the one at Wellington where the Orange Line and Haverhill Line dip under the junction with the Medford branch freight line that has to cut across them both. Or, they could dip the road ramps quickly underneath the tracks like the Storrow underpasses at River and Western.


That's your enabler for tearing down Storrow, which could be done this way:

1) Traffic-calm Soldiers Field Road by eliminating the underpasses at River and Western and do an at-grade boulevard (with reclaimed parkland!) that segues past River onto these under-viaduct collector/distributor ramps. This keeps thru traffic off of the stoplight-heavy western half of Memorial Drive. You don't need the underpasses anymore because Cambridge St. traffic will be vastly lower in that vicinity with the Pike ramps at the tolls now near Harvard Ave. for Allston/Brookline-bound traffic and the street grid in the middle now restored.

2) Add another exit further west at the Leo Birmingham Parkway roundabout, connecting to the western terminus of Soldiers Field Road. This places egresses at either end of Soldiers Field Road so that road can distribute all Harvard-bound traffic that peels some distance away from the Pike, better-utilizes the excess capacity of some of the often-empty river roads out there, and gives quick Watertown access while taking a load off the awful Newton Corner setup where ramp congestion often backs up a half-mile onto the Pike itself.

3) Tear down all of Storrow east of River St. to Embankment Road. Re-use University Road and the eastbound Storrow lanes under the BU Bridge as your entrance from Comm Ave. and the Mountfort connector to the collector-distributor ramps underneath the viaduct. You've now got a full river roads circuit and have your Storrow-replacement alignment in place. The only eastbound traffic you're diverting to Memorial Drive is onto the largely stoplight-free eastbound portion better-designed for flow and traffic calming.

4) Put the next Pike exit at Charlesgate, replacing the Bowker Overpass on Storrow. Your traffic flow now also aligns with the feeders--Mountfort and Charlesgate--to two sides of the Emerald Necklace parkways, which have some excess capacity to tap and are already designed with traffic-calming features. You have both sides of Kenmore and Fenway flanked with exits to split up the traffic and keep it from cramming through all in one direction from the Bowker boondoggle. And you're utilizing Boylston St.'s higher traffic capacity and straight alignment to get to Mass Ave., Back Bay, and Longwood without clogging up the Kenmore area making turns at traffic lights or dealing with the crazy Bowker ramps.

5) Add an eastbound entrance-only ramp at Boylston and Cambria streets to bypass Back Bay on the Pike and complement the existing westbound entrance ramp at Newbury (which will get much higher use now as a toll-free bypass to BU/Soldiers Field Rd.). This trades off the traffic increase on Boylston from Charlesgate by peeling off thru traffic that would otherwise clog Back Bay, and keeps your Pike entrance/exit traffic from having to make turns or hit too many lights (helps Mass Ave. a lot).

6) Make all of these ramps toll-free so the locals are encouraged to use them. Keep the Allston tolls for thru traffic, and maybe reinstate the Newton tolls as trade-off for making all Allston exits free. But it's important to allow for free movement at the neighborhood level so as much of this traffic as possible is off local streets and kept well-hidden in the Pike canyon.
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Old 10-26-2016, 09:08 PM   #10
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Re: Mass Pike Allston Improvements

Couldnt find the thread about the new electronic tolling. Theres videos in this link showing how the deconstruction process will take place.

http://www.fox25boston.com/news/how-...work/460678052
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