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Old 06-23-2006, 04:00 PM   #1
PaulC
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Back Bay turnpike ramps

from today's Back Bay Sun

http://www.backbaysun.com/:

Quote:
A controversial idea that was around about 10 years ago has come to life again due to the need to reconstruct the Storrow Drive tunnel: create on and off ramps from the Mass Pike Extension into the Back Bay to enable cars coming from the east to get off and cars heading east to get on.

?It is critical to improve access between the Back Bay and South Boston and the airport,? said Meg Mainzer-Cohen, executive director of the Back Bay Association.

A direct connection to the Back Bay from the eastern section of the turnpike extension has frustrated drivers since the extension was built.

?Our president, Brian Koop, says that everyone?s instinct tells them they can get off in the Back Bay [if they?re coming from the Southeast Expressway or the Ted Williams Tunnel],? she said.

In fact, early Big Dig plans included ramps that did connect to the Back Bay. But James Kerasiotis, who was then secretary of transportation for the commonwealth, killed the plan, allegedly in response to objections from Chinatown residents, according to Fred Salvucci, also a former secretary of transportation, who was instrumental in executing the Big Dig. ?At the time, Kerasiotis said, ?We already have a ramp to the Back Bay. It?s called Storrow Drive?,? Salvucci recalled.

But Storrow Drive, which some say was built illegally given its location in the Esplanade, now functions as a major artery, carrying more than 100,000 cars a day. Civic leaders see the tunnel reconstruction as a chance to move traffic from the edge of the park to the pike. They also see a chance to get traffic that now moves from Storrow to the Back Bay?s commercial district off the neighborhood?s residential streets, especially Arlington, Beacon, Berkeley and Clarendon.

?We should downsize Storrow Drive to what it was intended to be,? said Robert O?Brien, executive director of the Downtown North Association, and one of a number of park lovers who have written to the state?s Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. ?A lot of the traffic belongs on the Mass Pike Extension. The real key is to see if the turnpike can serve more local functions,? he said.

O?Brien said he would like to see a study that analyzes how the two roads function together. If it showed that on and off ramps at Arlington Street, would reduce traffic on Storrow Drive, for example, a plan for them should be considered.

But state Representative Marty Walz is wary. ?The challenge we face is that there is insufficient capacity in the Back Bay right now,? she said. ?Making it easier to drive in and out of the community? The roads are clogged now. We?ve got to accept that there is a finite capacity.?

Walz pointed out that the state already did the mid-1990s studies showing the effects of Back Bay on and off-ramps. ?Is [another study] the most appropriate use for the limited funds we have?? she asked. ?What changed circumstances would justify a new study??

Walz said she would prefer to find solutions that involve better public transit rather than making it easier for cars to drive around. She said that putting three-car trains on the Green Line, running a shuttle train using the existing commuter rail tracks between South Station and the Back Bay and Yawkey stations, and extending those tracks into South Boston would be projects that could get cars off the road.

Walz pointed to the ?slingshot? as perhaps going a long way to facilitate movement between the Back Bay, the convention center and the airport. The slingshot is a ramp reserved for taxicabs and buses that makes a 180 degree turn near the Allston toll booths to enable vehicles to get to the Back Bay on the ramps that already exist. It is scheduled to be completed this fall.

?I?m wary of any proposal that puts more cars in the Back Bay,? she said. ?Before we do anything I want clear proof that it will improve traffic congestion, not aggravate it.?

Ramp proponents have many suggestions for possible locations for ramps. The Back Bay Association suggests looking at Arlington Street, Boylston Street and Brookline Avenue as appropriate for on-ramps, with Berkeley, Stuart, and Newbury streets and Brookline Avenue for off-ramps. O?Brien favors looking at Arlington Street. Walz wonders where there is room to build any ramp at any of these locations without taking historic buildings or removing streets.

Peter Sherin, chairman of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, is waiting to form an opinion on ramps until receiving the results of destination studies that will analyze where drivers are going when they use Storrow Drive. Those studies should be finished this fall.

He agrees that Storrow Drive should become a road that is more suitable than it now is to its park environment. And he would support a number of different solutions that would make access to and from the Southeast Expressway, the airport and the convention center in South Boston easier for Back Bay residents. But he is cautious. ?Back Bay residents would love to have more entrances and exits to distribute traffic, not increase it,? he said. ?Knowing one from the other is going to be hard to understand.?
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Old 06-23-2006, 04:07 PM   #2
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It's a good idea in principle, though I too wonder where they can be built. If you build these ramps, you could close Storrow Drive entirely for the duration of the tunnel reconstruction.

One of the downtown Chicago expressways is a good example of compactly placing many on- and off-ramps in close proximity, serving 4 or 5 parallel cross streets. I think half of them enter or exit on the left side.
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Old 06-23-2006, 05:07 PM   #3
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Agreed that it is a good idea in principle -- it really would be better to funnel more traffic on the Mass Pike ... from my visual observations, it runs significantly under-capacity, at least relative to Storrow. Another possible way to encourage more local Pike traffic is to omit the exit toll at Allston/Brighton/Cambridge charged to exiting west-bound traffic. A dollar isn't much, really, but it seems more expensive than it should when Storrow is such an alternative.

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Ramp proponents have many suggestions for possible locations for ramps. The Back Bay Association suggests looking at Arlington Street, Boylston Street and Brookline Avenue as appropriate for on-ramps, with Berkeley, Stuart, and Newbury streets and Brookline Avenue for off-ramps. O?Brien favors looking at Arlington Street. Walz wonders where there is room to build any ramp at any of these locations without taking historic buildings or removing streets.
Not only isn't there much room now, don't forget that Columbus Center will soon be built (hopefully) exactly over the Mass Pike at the Arlington/Berkeley locations.

It would be a huge mistake to lose the benefits of Columbus Center (helping to restitch streets) in lieu of highway interchanges (no matter how compact).

If the goal is to reduce the importance of Storrow, perhaps the area of the Bowker overpass could be reworked to serve on and off ramps to the westbound Pike.

Getting to the eastbound Pike is enormously difficult thanks to the railroad tracks being right next to the Pike. (how does it work to get off now underneath the Pru/Copely Place? I haven't driven that stretch in a very long time).
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Old 06-27-2006, 06:32 PM   #4
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All of the cars driving around looking for nonexistant parking and a way from one end of the city to the other produce more pollution than most people want to admit. Much as I like and use mass transit, Boston needs Storrow Drive and more ramps on the Turnpike.
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Old 06-27-2006, 09:24 PM   #5
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If more ramps are built on the Turnpike, maybe Storrow Drive would no longer be needed at all?
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Old 07-05-2006, 03:33 AM   #6
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They already missed the boat. Any developments over the Pike should be required to contribute money toward building on/off ramps to the Pike.

In addition on/off ramps or a "slingshot" could/should have been incorporated in a development over the Pike.
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:19 PM   #7
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Story on new Mass Pike ramps ...

The Boston Courant has an article in this week's paper about long-gestating plans to add a new off-ramp and on-ramp to the Mass Turnpike near Kenmore Square.

Since the Courant doesn't feel the need to actually publish its paper online, I'll type in some of the story.

Quote:
City Adds Ramps To Its Wish List

By Ted Siefer

Boston's transportation chief wants the state to seriously consider adding on and off ramps to the Mass Pike in order to relieve downtown traffic on Storrow Drive.

...

The plan would entail building a westbound off-ramp near Kenmore Square and an eastbound on-ramp near the Bowker Overpass, according to Elliot Laffer, a NAGG member and chair of the traffic advisory committee for the Storrow Drive reconstruction project.

Laffer said that the impetus for the I-90 ramp proposal are studies, such as a 2006 DCR Storrow Drive survey, that show that nearly half the traffic on Storrow that goes through Boston exits at the Bowker Overpass. [This is the big massive bridge blob that takes you off Storrow to get to Fenway Park and/or the Fenway and/or Back Bay.]

"Odds are they're using Storrow mostly to access the LMA (Longwood Medical Area) ... [Or to go to a ball game, right?]

The 2006 DCR study shows that most Storrow traffic enters the roadway from the north via I-93. Adding exit and on ramps around Kenmore Square would allow vehicles to go directly from I-93 to I-90 and still be able to exit in the Kenmore Square area.
The impetus for this new plan is pending reconstruction and renovation of the Storrow Drive tunnel, which would severely impact traffic flow through the area, for well over one year (i.e., three).

Quote:
State Representative Marty Walz commented, "I'm against anything that benefits anyone, so count me in against this, even though I haven't done any studying about the issue nor do I know anything about it."
There were no renderings included in the story, so it's unclear where the proposed ramps would go.

I know others on the board have suggested having an on-ramp to I-90 eastbound start off of Ipswich Road; it seems as though the city is proposing traffic remain on the existing Boylston Street extension, then turn off onto I-90 East.

Coming the other way, on I-90 West, I would assume based on the story that the city is proposing an off-ramp that would exit right onto Brookline Ave, outside Kenmore Square, perhaps using the existing but small & narrow Newbury Street extension road.

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&om=1...8,0.010815&t=h

This is an interesting development. Other proposals suggested putting on and off ramps near Arlington Street.

I'm also curious as to how the "slingshot" at the Brighton tolls would affect plans to add ramps in or near Back Bay. Would there be a need for only or the other?
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:52 PM   #8
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Here are two ideas I whipped up from this article.

The first is a Westbound offramp onto Brookline Ave using a part of Newbury St that is flanked by a parking lot. This seems most feasible. The next is an Eastbound offramp onto Brookline Ave that would require placing Yawkey Station and the train tracks under ground and then adding an Eastbound onramp on the other side of Brookline Ave.
The problem here is how much backup on I-90 this would create during a ball game AND would interfere with air rights development.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...c9180a34&msa=0

The other idea is where you have a left lane onramp/offramp onto Beacon St with a new artery street between Beacon St and Brookline Ave connected to new parking garages. This would create horrible traffic tie-ups on Beacon St and potential backups on I-90. An interesting idea for dealing with the interchange would be to build a traffic circle but there probably isn't enough room.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...5ad55abc&msa=0

It's a good idea in theory because it would take cars off Storrow Drive and potentially eliminate the need for that horrible overpass. But when you take cars off one road you need to put them on another. Yes, improving public transit is a good choice but lets be real, this is a highway country and this is a highway project. Trains will only be something that needs to be moved when the highway is expanded.
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Old 04-27-2007, 07:47 PM   #9
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Now that Columbus Center is DOA, an idea I had for a westbound off-ramp is now feasible. There is enough room between Arlington St. and Berkeley St. along the north side of the Turnpike to construct a standard off-ramp for westbound traffic. All that would have to be done is to slightly move the existing westbound on-ramp toward the pike, thus freeing up enough land between that ramp and Cortes Street for the westbound off-ramp, which would empty onto Berkeley Street.

For the eastbound on-ramp, one already exists at Albany Street onto I-90 eastbound towards Ted Williams tunnel.
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Old 04-27-2007, 09:34 PM   #10
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Maybe ...

Charlie, I'm totally in agreement on the off-ramp between Arlington & Berkeley, dumping traffic onto Berkeley (as long as we keep Berkeley one-way into the Back Bay). (People on Cortes might not be so happy about this, you know ...). I live in the South End near there but would totally support it.

I don't think the on-ramp to I-90 East off Albany Street is good enough - I think we need an on-ramp in the Back Bay, somewhere around the same area you are talking about - Berkeley Street, or Shawmut Ave, or even before then, off Clarendon? (Don't know where.)
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Old 04-27-2007, 10:38 PM   #11
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why don't we just make the developer build these off-ramps? Then they can build us a miniature Disneyland here too.
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Old 04-28-2007, 02:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie_mta
Now that Columbus Center is DOA, an idea I had for a westbound off-ramp is now feasible. There is enough room between Arlington St. and Berkeley St. along the north side of the Turnpike to construct a standard off-ramp for westbound traffic. All that would have to be done is to slightly move the existing westbound on-ramp toward the pike, thus freeing up enough land between that ramp and Cortes Street for the westbound off-ramp, which would empty onto Berkeley Street.

For the eastbound on-ramp, one already exists at Albany Street onto I-90 eastbound towards Ted Williams tunnel.
We should do nothing to preclude air rights developments over the turnpike. Covering that trench is infinitely more important than motorists' convenience.

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Old 04-28-2007, 12:18 PM   #13
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Perhaps I missed something. I know that Columbus Center is in deep trouble, but is it dead? As far as I know, the developers are still working to put the financial pieces together to make it work. They have too much in it already to walk away without fighting like hell to save it.
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Old 04-29-2007, 02:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman
If more ramps are built on the Turnpike, maybe Storrow Drive would no longer be needed at all?
Nice idea. Worked in San Francisco.

Here's what else they could do if they spent money on public transport the way they do in China, Paris or Madrid:

AN OLD-TIMEY BIG IDEA (EXPENSIVE)

Storrow Drive and the Mass Pike practically kiss in Allston at the river bend near Nickerson Field.

This is where Storrow Drive could end.

You would be presented with three alternatives:

1. A ramp to get on the Pike.
2. A ramp to city streets (Cambridge and Babcock Streets for Allston/Brookline or cross the Charles to River Street, Cambridge.)
3. A ramp into a vast (12 story or more) parking garage built atop the spaghetti interchange with direct elevator access to the T. This would include the Green Line on Comm. Ave. (tunnel with conveyor) and commuter rail, but the lion?s share of travelers would take a new heavy-rail underground transit line built cut-and-cover directly underneath the abandoned Storrow Drive roadway converted to parkland --a continuation of the Blue Line from Bowdoin.

A day?s parking in the huge garage would cost the same as a round trip on the T; you?d be issued a free same-day RT ticket equally valid on the subway or commuter rail.

Call this vast transport center ?INTERCHANGE? or ?Nickerson Field/ Boston University West?. Inbound from here, stations on the extended Blue Line would be ?BOSTON UNIVERSITY Central? (at the BU Bridge/Cadillac Building Ellipse); then express (leave local to Green Line, but the train would stop at Deerfield Street when there are games at Fenway Park, to ?MASSACHUSETTS/Bridge/Beacon Street? (small, free, continuously-running shuttle bus across bridge to MIT); then EXETER STREET, providing much-needed transit to Back Bay?s most underserved reach and to the Charles River Lagoon. Next is CHESTNUT STREET for Beacon Hill, Arlington Street, the Hatch Shell and Public Garden. Then you can transfer at CHARLES/MGH to the Red Line or stay on the Blue Line through Government Center, State, Aquarium, Maverick, Airport, etc. all the way to Lynn.

Outbound from Interchange Station the extended Blue Line would break free of Soldiers Field Road and burrow to a station dead smack in the middle of Harvard?s gutless ALLSTON CAMPUS at Western Avenue (also good for Harvard Stadium games). Last stop: a deep-bore tunnel under the Charles to HARVARD SQUARE, with the station nestled under JFK Street.

Thus the Blue Line would run from Harvard Square to Lynn via Allston, BU, the Esplanade, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Downtown, the Airport, East Boston and Revere.

Sports and entertainment venues: Harvard and BU Stadiums, Fenway Park, Hatch Shell, and a revitalized Wonderland. Universities served: Harvard, BU, MIT. Direct from the Airport to Harvard.
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Old 04-29-2007, 10:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ablarc
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman
If more ramps are built on the Turnpike, maybe Storrow Drive would no longer be needed at all?
Nice idea. Worked in San Francisco.

Here's what else they could do if they spent money on public transport the way they do in China, Paris or Madrid:

AN OLD-TIMEY BIG IDEA (EXPENSIVE)

Storrow Drive and the Mass Pike practically kiss in Allston at the river bend near Nickerson Field.

This is where Storrow Drive could end.

You would be presented with three alternatives:

1. A ramp to get on the Pike.
2. A ramp to city streets (Cambridge and Babcock Streets for Allston/Brookline or cross the Charles to River Street, Cambridge.)
3. A ramp into a vast (12 story or more) parking garage built atop the spaghetti interchange with direct elevator access to the T. This would include the Green Line on Comm. Ave. (tunnel with conveyor) and commuter rail, but the lion?s share of travelers would take a new heavy-rail underground transit line built cut-and-cover directly underneath the abandoned Storrow Drive roadway converted to parkland --a continuation of the Blue Line from Bowdoin.

A day?s parking in the huge garage would cost the same as a round trip on the T; you?d be issued a free same-day RT ticket equally valid on the subway or commuter rail.

Call this vast transport center ?INTERCHANGE? or ?Nickerson Field/ Boston University West?. Inbound from here, stations on the extended Blue Line would be ?BOSTON UNIVERSITY Central? (at the BU Bridge/Cadillac Building Ellipse); then express (leave local to Green Line, but the train would stop at Deerfield Street when there are games at Fenway Park, to ?MASSACHUSETTS/Bridge/Beacon Street? (small, free, continuously-running shuttle bus across bridge to MIT); then EXETER STREET, providing much-needed transit to Back Bay?s most underserved reach and to the Charles River Lagoon. Next is CHESTNUT STREET for Beacon Hill, Arlington Street, the Hatch Shell and Public Garden. Then you can transfer at CHARLES/MGH to the Red Line or stay on the Blue Line through Government Center, State, Aquarium, Maverick, Airport, etc. all the way to Lynn.

Outbound from Interchange Station the extended Blue Line would break free of Soldiers Field Road and burrow to a station dead smack in the middle of Harvard?s gutless ALLSTON CAMPUS at Western Avenue (also good for Harvard Stadium games). Last stop: a deep-bore tunnel under the Charles to HARVARD SQUARE, with the station nestled under JFK Street.

Thus the Blue Line would run from Harvard Square to Lynn via Allston, BU, the Esplanade, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Downtown, the Airport, East Boston and Revere.

Sports and entertainment venues: Harvard and BU Stadiums, Fenway Park, Hatch Shell, and a revitalized Wonderland. Universities served: Harvard, BU, MIT. Direct from the Airport to Harvard.
awesome.
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Old 04-29-2007, 11:27 PM   #16
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Well before Storrow Drive was built there was an idea to build a Riverbank Subway which would be built along the water. It would have been for street cars and run from Kenmore to Park st with no stations in between.
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Old 04-29-2007, 11:50 PM   #17
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I like the idea; given, however, that

a) a subway is twice as useful if it has buildings on both sides (how much better would it have been to put the IND line under Columbus Ave rather than CPW);

b) it's a bitch to build a tunnel in fill right next to the river, so you might have to deep-bore it in any case;

it might be better for your line to swing inland a bit to serve Copley sq and all the offices around it, thus hitting a major employment destination as well.

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Old 04-30-2007, 09:14 AM   #18
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Converting Storrow to parkland is an excellent idea. The transit concept has problems, however. The Lynn extension is important, but Justin is right about ablarc's corridor alignment in the Back Bay--it is never wise to have half of a station's catchment area underwater. It suffers from a number of other fatal flaws:

The Harvard to Interchange portion of the route has no market. No one who has driven in this far will drive past the Harvard campus to park and then transfer to transit. You have to intercept the cars much earlier.

No one boarding this train at Harvard Square would ever use it to travel beyond the Back Bay, as even airport-bound passengers would simply take the Red Line to Charles (a 7 minute ride) and transfer there.

The free continuous shuttle bus across the bridge to MIT duplicates pay service that already exists (the #1 bus) as well as free service that currently exists (10 minute walk) or would exist under this proposal (transfer at Charles to Red Line).

A tunnel/conveyor to take people from the parking garage to Comm Ave Green Line service???!!! Is that for the people driving in from the west who are worried about finding parking over by Chestnut Hill Ave, or the people who are too old-fashioned to want to zip into the CBD on the new multi-billion dollar heavy rail line that also leaves from the garage?

The major benefits of this proposal would seem to be connecting the riverside section of the central Back Bay to Harvard, and connecting Harvard's Allston campus with Harvard Square. There is clearly value in doing this, but at a cost (let's say $5B to be conservative) that makes it an irresponsible investment choice. The enlightened leaders of Paris would surely find a better way to spend the money. And I think we can leave internal Harvard circulation to that institution--they seem to raising adequate funds these days.

And I hope the "they" in "if they spent money on public transport the way they do in..." means the United States, not Boston. Because it is the combination of an increasingly conservative Congress, the need to win support for transportation bills nationally by spending billions of wasted transit dollars on boondoggle transit projects in markets that will never orient themselves around transit, and the hesitancy to increase the gas tax (even as Americans have proven themselves willing to pay whatever price the market gives them over the past few years) that has resulted in barebones federal funding for transit in cities where it is an important piece of the transportation puzzle (Boston, NYC, DC, Philly, Chicago, SF).
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Old 04-30-2007, 09:21 AM   #19
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I had proposed a similar idea on here about a year ago: 1) abandon Storrow Drive west of Hatch Shell; 2) extend the Blue Line from Bowdoin station to Charles St., then from there along Embankment Road and Storrow Drive.

The cost would be minimal, because the Blue Line could utilize one of the two parallel roadways of Storrow Drive, even utilizing the existing tunnel at the Hatch Shell. The other roadway of Storrow Drive could be converted to parkland.

I would advise keeping one roadway east of Hatch Shell (Embanknment Road) open to traffic as a four lane undivided roadway connecting Longfellow Bridge with Arlington and Beacon Street, to divert traffic from Charles Street on Beacon Hill. However, the rest of Storrow Drive west from Hatch Shell would be obliterated.

I like the idea of continuing this Blue Line route up through the proposed Harvard Allston campus, then through a deep bore tunnel to Harvard Square. This would fit well with Harvard's plans for a transitway along an extended Stadium Way through the area.
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Old 04-30-2007, 06:33 PM   #20
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One question ...

Where is the spaghetti interchange? At Allston-Brighton tolls? Is that where the 12-story tunnel will be?
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