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Old 05-29-2012, 11:13 PM   #21
Commuting Boston Student
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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The more vehicles entering the city, the more parking they need. The more parking they need, the more of the city needs to be bulldozed to provide it. Is that such a wonderful outcome to be spending money to obtain?
Yes, new highway construction must immediately generate new parking lots. There's never any road construction project that doesn't bulldoze at least one building for a new parking lot.

At all.

Ever.

This works in reverse, too, right? We should let all the highways decay and fail naturally so that LESS vehicles are entering the city, and that'd be a better idea because
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:52 PM   #22
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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We should let all the highways decay and fail naturally
This is pretty close to the consensus opinion in Somerville with regard to the McGrath Highway overpass. Don't repair it. Let it gradually fail, then demolish it.
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Old 05-30-2012, 12:19 AM   #23
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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Yes, new highway construction must immediately generate new parking lots. There's never any road construction project that doesn't bulldoze at least one building for a new parking lot.
Doesn't have to be immediately. But where will the cars go? One answer is that they might end up just passing through, leaving nothing but exhaust behind. Well, great.

Another possibility is that the improved highway access inspires more people to drive which creates more demand for parking in the downtown core. A developer sees that burgeoning land, buys up some land and turns it into a parking lot because of that demand.

In an even worse scenario, the highway improvements trigger the Downs-Thomson Paradox, causing the MBTA to cut service on its trains and buses. This pushes additional commuters onto the highway and makes congestion worse than it was before the lane-addition, and raises the demand for parking even higher.

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This works in reverse, too, right? We should let all the highways decay and fail naturally so that LESS vehicles are entering the city, and that'd be a better idea because
Well, I wouldn't mind but less facetiously, fewer vehicles means fewer parking spots needed, which means fewer parking garages in the city. I'd rather see this achieved through improved public transportation than by creating unsafe roads.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:48 AM   #24
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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It's just so lovely during rush hour when someone breaks down. And instead of having a breakdown lane to head into, out of the way, they have to sit and take up a whole lane. The ensuing traffic backup is always nice.
It's just so lovely during rush hour when a train breaks down and all the trains behind it in the tunnel are forced to stop.
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In a perfect world, the SE Expressway would have 4 full travel lanes in each direction, a breakdown lane in each direction and reversible HOV lanes, 2 of them, that can be altered depending on the time of day. This would run from the SS Plaza all the way into the Pike exit.
In a perfect world, the entire 'T would be triple or quad tracked to enable trains to go around any disabled vehicles. Don't you think we should make such an investment?
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:27 AM   #25
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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Well, I wouldn't mind but less facetiously, fewer vehicles means fewer parking spots needed, which means fewer parking garages in the city. I'd rather see this achieved through improved public transportation than by creating unsafe roads.
Matthew your previous reassurances that you are only looking for a balance is looking doubtful again. Rather than a person who want to see every mode of transportation is improved to the best possible while keeping everything at reasonable cost as you say before, you just sound anti-roads. No better than the anti-rail people.

From what I can tell, the idea to connect the zipper lane and the HOV lane sounds like a reasonable idea as the other posters have concluded. It not some super unbalanced idea building at the cost of all other modes to tear down dozens of buildings to recreate an LA style highway. It is an attempt to fix to the most congested highway in the region (and I google "Southeast Expressway" before, apparently it is one of the most in the country). This looks like to be a bottleneck problem, not a paradox problem or an over appropriation of resource to one mode (unless it really cost that much, but I'll wait and see instead of you already claiming how much it will destroy everything with parking lots and killing the MBTA).

Are you really sure you are just concerned about induce the paradox where improvement will just make the Southeast Expressway even more congested or an even worse paradox where it kills off the Red Line or are you just rooting for the shut down of the highway regardless of a balanced view of would it help or hurt more.

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Old 05-30-2012, 10:29 AM   #26
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

Has anyone heard of the parking freeze in Boston, apparently not.

If you read the report you will find the answers to a lot of your questions.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:47 AM   #27
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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Are you really sure you are just concerned about induce the paradox where improvement will just make the Southeast Expressway even more congested or an even worse paradox where it kills off the Red Line or are you just rooting for the shut down of the highway regardless of a balanced view of would it help or hurt more.
"Well, we must ensure that we have enough city blighting urban highways so that we can have enough supply of city destroying parking lots, as well as fast moving vehicles to kill people."

What kind of balance is that? Forget the siren's call of "centrism" why would I ever want to compromise with something so horrible?

It was a mistake to build I-93 in the first place. But it's there now, and as I said earlier, I would prefer positive improvements to public transit, not leaving the road to rot.

And yes, I know about the parking freeze, but that is only an artificial regulatory barrier; which is just one pen stroke from being wiped out.
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Old 05-30-2012, 01:12 PM   #28
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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"Well, we must ensure that we have enough city blighting urban highways so that we can have enough supply of city destroying parking lots, as well as fast moving vehicles to kill people."

What kind of balance is that? Forget the siren's call of "centrism" why would I ever want to compromise with something so horrible?

It was a mistake to build I-93 in the first place. But it's there now, and as I said earlier, I would prefer positive improvements to public transit, not leaving the road to rot.

And yes, I know about the parking freeze, but that is only an artificial regulatory barrier; which is just one pen stroke from being wiped out.
You just interpret that my tacit approval to small improvement to the most congested part of the system "let's blight our cities!" No way improvement to the most congested - AKA the bottleneck - to match with rest of the network means advocacy to be. You sound like the other side of the coin of an Anti-Rail person.

I would like to see more expansion and improvement to the MBTA too. If the Red line was restored back to the original headway and the rest of the system got expanded to the edges of 128 as originally planned, that would be great!

But the road system should be given improvements too. The 93-95 exchanges (as other posters noted here) and connecting the HOV-Zipper Lanes sounds like reasonable and worthwhile improvements barring some
kind of physical (not political) issues that would jack up the price.

Currently, my views on highways projects that the standing issue of things like the interchanges and the Southeast expressway sounds like reasonable ideas. Some other ones like improvements to the interchanges to the north half also sounds like a pretty good idea (it would go also well with the tear down of the bridge in Somerville). These are relatively small improvements to things that causes outsized effects to the rest of the system. It streamlines the network and keep trucks off the side streets.

Again, like another poster said, there's no need or good done to have 16 lanes highways like in LA, but this is an important stretch and doing this improvement looks like it can do a lot of good.

What improvements to the road system do you like to see? If nothing. Then is it because you think any improvements is futile. Do you believe the interchanges are not by poor design but by the nature of the highway? Or do you just think highways are just pure evil and the more congested they are the better.
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Old 05-30-2012, 01:59 PM   #29
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

Highways are not inherently "evil" (as much as any inanimate object can be said to be "evil"), I think we can make that clear. They may not be good value propositions, they may not pay for themselves, and they may lead to additional pollution, but they aren't "evil" in themselves. Bulldozing neighborhoods to build highways and parking lots in cities is what's "evil." Encouraging high speed vehicular traffic on city streets is "evil." You asked if I was pursuing a general "balance" between highways and public transportation. The answer is no, I'm not pursuing a balance between blight and vitality. That doesn't make any sense.

Is there a place for good highways? Yes: in between cities, as Eisenhower originally envisioned.

I do think that improvements to urban freeways are largely futile. We all saw what happened with the Big Dig: the bottleneck just moved outward. Within reasonable parameters, congestion is not something you can increase or decrease by widening or narrowing roads. Congestion is a symptom of the equilibrium state of peak travel demand vs transportation supply.

Connecting the HOV-Zipper lanes does sound like a good and laudable goal because it encourages carpooling and buses which reduces the need for parking downtown. However, if the state was really interested in connecting the HOV-Zipper lanes, they could do it right now by reconfiguring the existing lanes. The plan they presented in the PDF is outlandishly expensive. Check out the appendix with the relocated Braintree and Old Colony lines. They want to build two tunnels!
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Old 05-30-2012, 02:26 PM   #30
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

The whole entitlement issue goes to both extremes (public vs private transit) and this is getting pretty ridiculous. The SE Expressway is currently far below standards. This plan is attempting to at least bring it to standards and is by no means making it into a superhighway that exceeds standards. Yes, it would be a cause for concern if they were proposing that the highway exceed standards, but the current highway we have is not even at standards.

Auto drivers are not entitled to superhighways and those without cars are not entitled to a world without highways. They need to coexist. This kind of utopian thinking that gets spewed by some of the members on this board makes me sick.
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:09 PM   #31
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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Auto drivers are not entitled to superhighways and those without cars are not entitled to a world without highways. They need to coexist. This kind of utopian thinking that gets spewed by some of the members on this board makes me sick.
You're attempting to take the damn-both-sides "centrist" view here. But it's wrong. If urban freeways could exist without blighting cities then I would agree with you. But they can't and so I don't.

The urban freeway was a radical Utopian vision of the 50s and 60s and only after the damage they wrought did we finally recognize what a horrible mistake it was.

The world can have highways, and there is a place for them. But that place is not inside cities.
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:29 PM   #32
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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The world can have highways, and there is a place for them. But that place is not inside cities.
That's totally fine for brand new cities, but cities with existing highway infrastructure need to optimize that infrastructure to the point of being functional. Boston's simply is not functional. This city is jam packed with the best hospitals in the country and it is nearly impossible for emergency vehicles to access them properly because the infrastructure is so dysfunctional.

The Boston metro is extremely light in terms of highway access. It's not like anyone is proposing to build the Inner Belt and the Southwest Expressway. That would be an entirely different story that I would never approve of.

This proposal even includes extensive public transit upgrades. I was shocked to find this in a document about a highway improvement.
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:35 PM   #33
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

Then create a dedicated bus lane on the existing segment. I saw plenty of emergency vehicles using Pittsburgh's bus lanes.

The public transit upgrades proposed are going to run a couple billion dollars. I have trouble believing they'll stick in the plans. Especially since they only offer a marginal benefit to affluent South Shore commuters, and a little more convenience to users of JFK/UMass.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:20 PM   #34
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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Then create a dedicated bus lane on the existing segment. I saw plenty of emergency vehicles using Pittsburgh's bus lanes.

The public transit upgrades proposed are going to run a couple billion dollars. I have trouble believing they'll stick in the plans. Especially since they only offer a marginal benefit to affluent South Shore commuters, and a little more convenience to users of JFK/UMass.
Yes, removing the Old Colony Lines bottleneck, opening the door to Cape Cod Commuter Rail / Amtrak service is a 'marginal' benefit.

Roads and rails actually can co-exist peacefully. For example, there's nothing straighter than an interstate corridor to move HSR into once we hit the limit of what we can do with certain stretches of track that are just too unfriendly to high speeds, and in many places, rails could be added into the median with limited difficulty.

As another example, subway lines can take advantage of a road that's already present by cut-and-covering underneath the road, which is a far cheaper alternative to boring a new tunnel. The stations built up around the road could then conceivably be used by pedestrians, so that nobody ever has to cross a four lane road in Boston again!

And let's not forget, while the Big Dig was a horribly misplanned, mismanaged, misexecuted boondoggle, it didn't start off as a necessarily bad idea. Your blighting urban highway isn't so blighting when it's forced underground, after all.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The kind of insanely hyperbolic nonsense being thrown around helps nobody, and a 'centrist' compromise isn't actually going to damn both sides. There doesn't have to be a clear set of winners and losers here!

Step one to making sure there is no 'losing' side is to stop playing both ends against the center.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:38 PM   #35
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

This isn't about roads vs rails, it's about freeways vs people. The debate is about building and widening urban freeways. Centrism is a misleading goal in this case. The centrist choice means that the people who live in the city will lose.

The only hyperbolic language comes from "centrists" who steadfastly believe that no matter the case, no matter how bad one side is, you can take any two ideas and average them out to come to an answer. If I handed a centrist a loaf of bread and a bag of excrement, they would put together a shit sandwich to eat. Centrism is not common sense, it's not a logical position staked out through careful thought, it's just a religion.

I'll address a few of your extra points too:

Cut-and-cover is not always cheaper than bored tunnels. TBMs are amazing inventions, and cut-and-cover often has to deal with buried utilities. Those can be very expensive to locate and move, especially since in many cases they are unmapped and unknown.

Moving pedestrians off the street into grade-separated paths is death to city life. Just think of your typical highway foot bridge. Is that what you want everywhere?

With regard to the Big Dig, according to Fred Salvucci:

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Initially Bill Reynolds, who was a highway builder and the head New England Road Builders, came up to me and said that, "This big ugly elevated road is like a neon sign flashing, 'Roads are bad.' And it's just a bad advertisement for our industry and I'm convinced that the only way we'll fix this anti-highway attitude is by correcting the mistake and putting it underground." And my first reaction was, "This is crazy. You know, how are we going to shut the city down for ten years while we build a new road?"
Another interesting fact is that Bechtel/Parsons-Brinckerhoff originally found the costs of the Big Dig to be $13.79 billion which was pretty close to the final cost (before financing). But they were ordered to find $6 billion in savings. Inspector General report:

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Anxious to avoid the sticker shock effect of B/PB's estimate, Big Dig officials undertook a nine-month initiative between June 1994 and March 1995 to decrease B/PB's total cost estimate from $13.8 billion to $8 billion. At this time, the Secretary of Transportation and Construction publicly announced that the on-time and on-budget figure would not exceed $8 billion. Documents cite a directive from Big Dig officials telling B/PB to "hit the target" of $7.98 billion.
No doubt, they were afraid public would reject the project if they had not been deceived.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:57 PM   #36
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

This is absolutely absurd alarmist bullshit. I've never seen more inane overreacting.

Your points would be entirely valid if I-93 was to become like LA, but it's not by any means.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:22 PM   #37
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

Call it my cynicism, plain and simple. They are proposing what looks like a several billion dollar project, based on the amount of tunneling, and the multiple temporary flyovers needed. I just don't buy it.

The goal is to connect two HOV lanes. That could be done in a month, if they really thought it was important, with some paint. It would entail taking a lane away from single-occupancy vehicles.

What I find insane is that people think that it's "responsible" to spend billions of dollars to achieve something that could be done with a couple thousand, because people are too afraid of challenging the supremacy of single-occupancy vehicle drivers.
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Old 05-31-2012, 12:07 AM   #38
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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Centrism is a misleading goal in this case. The centrist choice means that the people who live in the city will lose.

The only hyperbolic language comes from "centrists" who steadfastly believe that no matter the case, no matter how bad one side is, you can take any two ideas and average them out to come to an answer. If I handed a centrist a loaf of bread and a bag of excrement, they would put together a shit sandwich to eat. Centrism is not common sense, it's not a logical position staked out through careful thought, it's just a religion.
No it isn't, no it doesn't, and no they wouldn't, in that order. There is no perfect system that works all of the time, but there are plenty of systems that work some of the time, and there's an entire world between 0% and 100%.

That's what, if anything, 'centrism' is about. And, in fact, the logical position can often turn out to be the one in or near the center, rather than a hard-line extreme on one end or the other. Who knew?

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I'll address a few of your extra points too:

Cut-and-cover is not always cheaper than bored tunnels. TBMs are amazing inventions, and cut-and-cover often has to deal with buried utilities. Those can be very expensive to locate and move, especially since in many cases they are unmapped and unknown.
Bored tunnels are going to run into the same utilities and need to have them moved. Other than that, if the bored tunnel is the cheaper tunnel - by all means, bore a tunnel! I can't possibly get out of your way fast enough.

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Moving pedestrians off the street into grade-separated paths is death to city life. Just think of your typical highway foot bridge. Is that what you want everywhere?
A subway station is hardly a grade-separated path, which are no more death to city life than bicycle lanes are. In fact, it isn't even a path - it's a crossing!

And, yes, I'm envisioning a highway foot bridge right now. I'd love to see one of these things replace every single crosswalk over a road that's four lanes or more, as well as every road with a speed limit above 25 mph. Every one. I have absolutely no problems with that.

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With regard to the Big Dig, according to Fred Salvucci:



Another interesting fact is that Bechtel/Parsons-Brinckerhoff originally found the costs of the Big Dig to be $13.79 billion which was pretty close to the final cost (before financing). But they were ordered to find $6 billion in savings. Inspector General report:



No doubt, they were afraid public would reject the project if they had not been deceived.
There's no guarantee the public would have rejected the project, and there's no guarantee that emerging technology wouldn't apply downward pressure to the cost of future projects. And, none of this tells me why the Big Dig was a bad idea on a conceptual level.

In fact, let's frame this differently. Let's take the money out of the equation. I come to you, Matthew, and I tell you I've got this great plan - I'm going to tear down that unsightly central artery and replace it with a network of tunnels, and because I'm (hypothetically) filthy stinking rich, I'll be picking up 100% of the tab. You'll pay nothing, all you have to do is sign on the line and let me agree to start the Big Dig.

Do you let me start the Big Dig? If not, then tell me why.
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Old 05-31-2012, 12:30 AM   #39
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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Bored tunnels are going to run into the same utilities and need to have them moved. Other than that, if the bored tunnel is the cheaper tunnel - by all means, bore a tunnel! I can't possibly get out of your way fast enough.
Can go under utilities. Cut and Cover has to go through to get there...


Quote:
And, yes, I'm envisioning a highway foot bridge right now. I'd love to see one of these things replace every single crosswalk over a road that's four lanes or more, as well as every road with a speed limit above 25 mph. Every one. I have absolutely no problems with that.
That sounds awful. Where would they go? They take up a LOT of space, especially with the ramps you would need, and at least one of the directions at an intersection would have to go out of their way to get on the ramp.
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Old 05-31-2012, 12:31 AM   #40
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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And, in fact, the logical position can often turn out to be the one in or near the center, rather than a hard-line extreme on one end or the other. Who knew?
It "can" turn out to be the logical position. But there is no guarantee. And you should arrive at that position by careful consideration, not knee-jerk automatic centrism.

As for separated walkways: Newark, NJ is infamous for its grade separated, elevated skywalks.
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Newark is a living laboratory for nearly every bad planning idea of the 20th century. Urban renewal destroyed whole neighborhoods, replacing low-rise, vernacular residences with public housing projects. Built on superblocks, the projects wiped out the original grid as well as commercial and retail activity. Soaring crime was excused and tolerated. Interstate highways cut the city into pieces, dividing and isolating it. Corporations, most prominently Prudential Insurance, tried to help. But they built fortress-like towers, connected to the train station and each other by skywalks, bypassing the streets entirely and even turning their backs on the waterfront, now walled off by parking garages and hostile structures. What was supposed to have been a major downtown asset, Military Park, was elevated and gated, limiting public access to a few hidden entrances. Meanwhile, surface roads were widened to facilitate fast traffic, making escape to the suburbs easy and efficient. Gradually, stores, restaurants, and cafes closed, leaving only a few discount stores behind.
Your scenario for the Big Dig is interesting. It actually comes pretty close to what happened in real life, where the state was expecting the Federal government to chip in 90% of the cost.

But let's assume that you're good for it, unlike the Feds. Do you also pay for the cost of providing underground parking garages? Or is there some other way to avoid the inevitable bulldozing of downtown Boston to provide parking? Also, what do you tell the residents of Somerville, Charlestown, and Dorchester and Brighton when you inevitably need to widen the access highways to accommodate all those cars? Remember: I'm not anti-highway; I'm anti-highway-impact.

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