Charles River Conservancy Advocacy Unchoke The Threat

Allston Multimodal Project

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is planning a one-billion dollar project in Allston, prompted by the need to replace the Mass Pike’s aging Allston interchange. The Allston Multimodal Project will reconstruct the Allston interchange and replace today’s tangle of highway ramps with a new street grid to allow development on dozens of acres of land owned by Harvard University. 

The project is also an important opportunity to improve regional transit and provides a once-in-a-century chance to improve the conditions and accessibility of the parks, paths, and river’s edge in Allston. The CRC, along with a coalition of mobility and environmental organizations, believes this project must be about more than just the highway.

OUR ADVOCACY PRIORITIES

  • Protect the river’s ecology and recreational opportunities
  • Improve conditions of the park and paths in the “throat” section of the site
  • Create connections to the river from the Allston-Brighton neighborhood
  • Encourage transit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

ALLSTON MULTIMODAL TASK FORCE

As a member of MassDOT’s Allston Multimodal Project Task Force, CRC Executive Director Laura Jasinski represents and advocates for the Charles River, the parks, and the park users. The Task Force consists of residents, business owners, and other local stakeholders and includes many of our environmental and mobility advocacy partners.

The Task Force meets monthly to review project updates and discuss details. It is a crucial opportunity for the CRC to influence and improve the project for the betterment of the Charles River, the parks, and our communities.

The Task Force meetings are public, so consider attending one to learn more about the project and make your voice heard! Learn more here.

RIVERFRONT RESTORATION STRATEGIES

For decades, the river’s edge near the I-90 Allston Interchange has been narrow and eroded. The Allston Multimodal Project is a once-in-a-century opportunity to improve these conditions and also to re-connect Allston neighborhoods to the parks.

CRC Board Member Gautam Sundaram, of Perkins&Will, worked with urban designers from CBT to develop riverfront restoration strategies that work in tandem with the community-supported “All-At-Grade” design for the project. These strategies have helped build important consensus among community members, transportation advocates, and environmental groups. This “ambitious piece of analysis that boldly covers a wide area and provides an elegant solution” won a Merit Award from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

Review A Living Shoreline: Charles River.

THROAT PATHWAYS CAMPAIGN

The section of the Paul Dudley White Path between the BU Bridge and River Street Bridge in Boston, termed the “throat,” is a key artery of transportation for pedestrians and cyclists. However, limited space and poor conditions make it over-crowded, unpleasant, and dangerous to use.

In January of 2018, we partnered with WalkBoston and designers at Sasaki to develop alternative proposals for the “throat” section of the project. Thank you to the Solomon Foundation and to the donated services of Sasaki for making this work possible.

View the Alternative Design Proposals and watch our campaign video.

GET INVOLVED

PRESS

2021

more press

UPDATES

September 29, 2021: MassDOT announced that Massachusetts Turnpike and Soldiers Field Road will be rebuilt using an at-grade design, rather than building the elevated structure. Read MassDOT’s Press Release.

May 18, 2021: MassDOT announced plans to accelerate initial repair work for the Allston Multi-Modal Project in order to ensure the near-term safety of the viaduct and reduce the risk of future emergency repairs. Read MassDOT’s Press Release.

May 11, 2021: A coalition of advocates that included the CRC sent a letter to the Massachusetts Federal Congressional Delegation requesting support to secure federal funds for the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project and ensure an all at-grade project design.

March 30, 2021: The CRC signed onto a group letter to Highway Administrator Gulliver with suggestions to improve the public process on this transformational project.

October 30, 2020: Along with a coalition of advocates and constituents, the CRC submitted public comments urging MassDOT to select the “Modified All At-Grade” design. Read our comment letter and the coalition letter we signed.

October, 2020: MassDOT accepted a Modified All-At-Grade design for the “throat” area, developed by A Better City and backed by the City of Boston, to be considered as one of three alternatives to be reviewed by state and federal regulators.

September, 2020: CRC board member Gautam Sundaram of Perkins & Will worked with designers Kishore Varanasi and Devanshi Purohit of cbt to develop a series of riverfront restoration design principles that can be applied to the All-At-Grade design for the “throat.” View the Riverfront Restoration Designs.

August 7, 2020: MassDOT and the Federal Highway Administration released the Scoping Summary Report on the project, which describes the four alternatives proposed to be carried forward into the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). These include a “no build” option, an I-90 viaduct option, a Soldiers Field Road viaduct option, and an all at-grade option.

August 3, 2020: A diverse group of advocates, including the CRC, sent MassDOT a short one-page letter summarizing our shared priorities.

December 12, 2019: Over 800 constituents and advocates, including the CRC, submitted comment letters in response to the project’s NEPA Scoping Report. Read the CRC’s comment letter.

November 6, 2019: MassDOT and the Federal Highway Administration published the project’s Scoping Report for NEPA.

September 16, 2019: The CRC teamed up with our partners at CLF, CRWA, WalkBoston, and MassBike and testified at MassDOT’s Board Meeting regarding the agencies plans to build a temporary trestle bridge extending 50 feet into the Charles River during construction. We urged the agency to minimize impacts and maximize mitigation for the river and submitted a comment letter outlining our requests.

June 20, 2019: MassDOT informed the task-force that the project’s construction plan includes building a temporary trestle bridge extending 50 feet into the Charles for Soldiers Field Road and Paul Dudley White path traffic. The temporary bridge would likely be in place for a decade, the expected duration of construction.

more (past) updates

Lead photo courtesy of WalkBoston.