Ped/Bike Underpasses

Central to the Charles River Conservancy’s mission is to enhance public access throughout the parks. Since 2006, the Conservancy has advocated for pedestrian/bicycle underpasses to be included on the Boston side of the Anderson Memorial, Western Avenue, and River Street Bridges. The Conservancy has built a large coalition of supporters for its vision of a 7-mile uninterrupted, car-free corridor along the Charles River from downtown Boston all the way to Watertown.

Dangerous, traffic-congested intersections at Anderson, River Street and Western Avenue Bridges fragment the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path, posing a challenge to walkers, runners, cyclists, and skaters trying to cross. Including underpasses will increase fluidity for all path users, encourage safe commuting and recreational use of the parks, improve access for wheelchair users, and promote carbon-free modes of transportation.

Illustration of Anderson Bridge underpass by Fennick McCredie Architecture. In 2014, the Conservancy commissioned a set of renderings of all three underpasses thanks to a grant from the Barr Foundation.

UPDATES

April, 2018: View our Anderson Bridge Underpass Advocacy Abbreviated History, for a readable summary of our advocacy efforts thus far.

March 12, 2018: The Massachusetts Historical Commission sent the completed and signed Anderson Underpass Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to MassDOT, enabling the design process to continue. The MOA was signed signed by representatives from MassDOT and Mass Historical Commission, as well as DCR, Boston Landmarks Commission, Cambridge Historical Commission, Charles River Conservancy, and Boston Preservation Alliance. The MOA requires MassDOT submit designs at 75% and 90% completion for consultation by the signatories.

March 16, 2017: The Anderson Bridge Underpasses Coalition submitted a comment letter to MassDOT urging the agency to fund the project as part of their CIP process.

December 7, 2016: The proposed Underpass for the Anderson Memorial Bridge recently overcame a major hurdle: the Mass. Historical Commission (MHC) ruled that they accept the “adverse effect” of constructing an underpass and proposed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to order to resolve those adverse effects. Read the letter.

November 2, 2016: MassDOT submitted a written request to the Mass. Historical Commission (MHC) to initiate the consultation process for the underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge. MHC’s input is critical for the underpass to be built.

August 18, 2016: DCR Commissioner Leo Roy submitted a letter to DOT Administrator Thomas Tinlin, providing “[DCR’s] support for the MassDOT proposed Grade-Separated Multi-use Path on the Boston side of the Anderson Memorial Bridge”. He also stated “the proposed connecting path and underpass will enhance recreational opportunities… and increase safety by eliminating conflicts with motor vehicles at the busy North Harvard Street crossing.”

May 13, 2016: An opportunity to secure funding for the eventual construction of the Anderson Memorial Bridge came in the form of MassDOT’s five-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP). The Conservancy co-signed a letter urging the inclusion of this underpass in the CIP, and over 200 individuals sent in comments.

October 22, 2015: A public meeting was held to discuss the underpass design at the Anderson Memorial Bridge. See the presentation.

June 15, 2015: MassDOT resumed work on the design and permitting of the Anderson Memorial Bridge underpass. The Conservancy co-signed a letter thanking Secretary Pollack for her continued support of an underpass at the Anderson Bridge.

April 9, 2015: Work on the design and permitting of an underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge was paused in early 2015 while the Baker Administration reviewed current projects. On April 9, the Conservancy co-signed a letter to MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack urging her to restart the design and permitting process.

SUPPORTERS

See the full list of supporters here.

MassDOT Supports Underpasses
Former Secretary Davey agreed to support the design and permitting of an underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge! Read the Conservancy’s letter to the Secretary and the Secretary’s letter confirming his commitment.

Boston’s Mayor Walsh Supports the Underpasses: Mayor Marty Walsh has written a letter to Governor Patrick and Transportation Secretary Richard Davey in support of the underpasses.

Letters from Key Supporters:

  • Representative Livingstone, Mayor Walsh, Mayor Maher, and others write supporting statements, 8/21/14
  • Congresswoman Clark writes to Governor Patrick and MassDOT Secretary Davey, 4/8/14
  • Michelle Wu, Boston City Councilor At-Large, writes to MassDOT Highway Administrator DePaola, 1/29/14
  • Ed Davis, Boston Police Commissioner, adds his support, 8/21/13
  • Emily Shea, Boston Commissioner for Elderly Affairs, writes to MassDOT Highway Administrator DePaola, 7/5/13
  • Remarks from the Accelerated Bridge Program Council meeting in support of underpasses, 1/7/13
  • Brian Swett, Boston’s Chief of Environment and Energy, writes to MassDOT Highway Administrator DePaola, 9/25/12
  • Cambridge City Council resolution in support of underpasses, 4/7/12
  • Congressman Capuano writes to MassDOT Chief Engineer Broderick, 4/1/12
  • Tom Tinlin, Boston Transportation Commissioner, writes to MassDOT Highway Administrator DePaola, 4/6/12
  • Watertown Town Council writes to MassDOT Acting Chief Engineer Thomas Broderick, 1/16/12

For more information, to learn how you can help, or to make a press inquiry, please contact Lucy Salwen at lsalwen@thecharles.org of (617) 300-8171.

Lead photo by Aaron John Bourque.