Bowker Overpass replacement?

F-Line to Dudley

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It looks like a good concept, except I don't think Newbury Street could be raised up to the east side of the Bowker overpass (in this Google street view from WB Mass Pike), because there's not enough horizontal distance there to make the jump in height. Also. I'd like to see an eastbound on-ramp from the Bowker to the EB Mass Pike. With these ramps to the Mass Pike, maybe Storrow Drive could be permanently eliminated.
125 ft. It'll take a 13%+ grade to make that climb, and you're going to try to make a complex intersection out of the tippy-top of it and make it load-bearing for interstate highway ramp collection-distribution???

Nope...never in a million years will that get approved.
 

Charlie_mta

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125 ft. It'll take a 13%+ grade to make that climb, and you're going to try to make a complex intersection out of the tippy-top of it and make it load-bearing for interstate highway ramp collection-distribution???

Nope...never in a million years will that get approved.
I agree. Trying to connect Newbury Street east of the Bowker to it is geometrically impossible.

I do think an eastbound on-ramp from the Bowker to the EB Mass Pike is doable and desirable, along with grounding the Bowker north of the Pike:

 

BeyondRevenue

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125 ft. It'll take a 13%+ grade to make that climb
If the Newbury Street EB onramp is moved 1000 ft West, you have 920 feet to go 20 feet up. So it's more like a 3% grade. And if you want complex intersections we've already built contrary to all logic, I give you The Comm Ave/BU Bridge/90/Rail floaty spectacular. Compared to that 90/Charlesgate is easy-peasy.
Consider: the silliness of the Allston turnaround was because there isn't a WB offramp from Chinatown to Allston. This is a fix for that, too.
 

Charlie_mta

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Why do we want Pike ramps so badly here?
There are currently no on-ramps to the EB Pike, and no off-ramps from the WB Pike, in the long stretch between Allston and the Central Artery. When the Pike was built in the early 60s, toll booths were required, and that's why the on and off ramps in that stretch of the Pike are all oriented toward the west (towards Allston), where the toll booths were. Also, until the Ted Williams Tunnel was built, the Pike ended at the Central Artery. So because of the development of the connection of the Pike to Logan (via the Ted Williams) plus the development of electronic tolling, new on and off-ramps that are oriented toward the east (Logan Airport) are now feasible and desirable. These new east-oriented ramps would also enable some of the traffic feeding onto/off of Storrow Drive In the Fenway and Back Bay area to use the Pike instead, opening the door for a possible elimination of Storrow Drive, or at least paring it down from an expressway to a boulevard (with traffic lights, less lanes, etc.
 

JeffDowntown

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Keep in mind that too many ramps can lead to local traffic usage, which doomed the old Central Artery. It is an Interstate, and it should be geared toward non-local movements.
Yes, but this situation is no where close to too many ramps.
 

CajunAsian

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Sure, technically speaking, the ramp spacing is perfectly fine according to NCHRP 687 and whatever other national guidance exists on the matter. In fact, even if we doubled or tripled the ramp density, the guidance tells us there would be little to no operational or safety impacts (based on my quick and dirty Google Maps survey). That alone is not a good reason to build even a single ramp, though. The justification can't be "we don't have ramps so we should build them" just as much as someone can't justify transit lanes or bike lanes with the same logic. There has to be an operational or safety benefit, not simply a lack of harm.

That said, I'll admit I have a weak grasp on the flow patterns in this area and maybe there is some big benefit I'm not seeing.
 
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Highwayguy

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Sure, technically speaking, the ramp spacing is perfectly fine according to NCHRP 687 and whatever other national guidance exists on the matter. In fact, even if we doubled or tripled the ramp density, the guidance tells us there would be little to no operational or safety impacts (based on my quick and dirty Google Maps survey). That alone is not a good reason to build even a single ramp, though. The justification can't be "we don't have ramps so we should build them" just as much as someone can't justify transit lanes or bike lanes with the same logic. There has to be an operational or safety benefit, not simply a lack of harm.

That said, I'll admit I have a weak grasp on the flow patterns in this area and maybe there is some big benefit I'm not seeing.
The justification for a ramp here is that Storrow is 1) serving a high percentage of traffic exiting the city in addition to inter neighborhood trips and 2) is a lower capacity facility than the Pike. The Charlesgate-Storrow interchange serves long distance traffic from Longwood and the southwestern neighborhoods coming up old RT 1, in addition to suburbanites leaving Fenway. A Pike ramp here would presumably divert most of this long distance traffic from Storrow due to the Pike’s higher capacity/ better geometry, either leaving the excess capacity to be soaked up by short distance trips that are now using surface streets, or potentially removing enough volume from Storrow that it could be turned back into a surface boulevard without (extra) gridlocking the Back Bay.

Now whether that justification is actually valid or not can only be determined by a traffic study. Wayyyy to many variables for even a professional to guess at without hard data. And that doesn’t even touch upon if the cost/ benefit would pencil out or if the air rights job has already precluded it. People on this board can’t 100% justify it unless they come up with a few $100k to pay a consultant. However, it is definitely a reasonable hypothesis.

Also assuming this is being built as a component of removing the Bowker, it would make it politically easier to advance the overall project by throwing a bone to all of the car people being “screwed” by the removal of “their” overpass.
 
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fatnoah

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The justification for a ramp here is that Storrow is 1) serving a high percentage of traffic exiting the city in addition to inter neighborhood trips
Even though I'm a frequent Storrow Drive user, both as a resident of the suburbs AND as a resident of three different downtown neighborhoods, I'm all for making it a low speed parkway/surface boulevard.

That said, for those exiting the city, one key benefit of Storrow Drive is that it is often a much faster route to destinations north of the city, especially those accessed via I-93 north.
 

Highwayguy

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For those exiting the city, one key benefit of Storrow Drive is that it is often a much faster route to destinations north of the city, especially those accessed via I-93 north.
Otherside of the same coin, the Pike would be much faster for those heading to 93 S by avoiding the light at Leveret and the Tip tunnel. That’s why a real traffic study would be needed to determine the trip distribution, effect on Pike/ Southbay interchange operations, and induced demand implications. I think the on ramp is an idea good enough to study, but I don’t know enough to say that it should be built tomorrow.

Even though I'm a frequent Storrow Drive user, both as a resident of the suburbs AND as a resident of three different downtown neighborhoods, I'm all for making it a low speed parkway/surface boulevard.
Selfishly, I would be sad to see Storrow turned into a boulevard even though though (if done right) it would be a huge improvement to the cityscape. I’m a huge sucker for those old school proto-freeways like Storrow, RT 1 Saugus, and 128 north of Peabody. Yeah they objectively suck for motorists and everybody else, but l think they have a unique quaintness or charm about them. It’s kind of like how a lot of architecture nerds really love city hall despite, well, all of it.

Worst case would be if Storrow was turned into something like the Alaskan Way boulevard in Seattle or the Lord interchange grounding in Lowell. Signals that dramatically increase vehicular travel times but have a bunch of added lanes to make the intersections “work”; an unpleasant to be around vehicle sewer that still acts as a barrier to the esplanade since the crosswalks would be 200 feet long. At that point keep the grade separation and relatively modest cross section.
 
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BeyondRevenue

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This part of The Pike was built at the height of the Cold War, with highway design standards centered on the 12-minute window of panicked evacuation speeds on Boston's Death Day, before targeted nukes vaporized the Hub. Save for the Pru ramp, pre-factored for the nixed 95/90 cloverleaf, all ramps are outbound.
I wish I was kidding.
Urban streets were widened to account for clearing exploded debris from collapsed buildings, curbs deep-rounded for emergency vehicles to hit corners at 35 mph. Our post war design standard is based at its core on disaster and death, not beauty and life. The fatalism of the American Condition is baked in to our surroundings, by code, by law and by 75 years of terror-based emotion.

So, yeah. Ramp, please.
 

Charlie_mta

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This part of The Pike was built at the height of the Cold War, with highway design standards centered on the 12-minute window of panicked evacuation speeds on Boston's Death Day, before targeted nukes vaporized the Hub. Save for the Pru ramp, pre-factored for the nixed 95/90 cloverleaf, all ramps are outbound.
I wish I was kidding.
Urban streets were widened to account for clearing exploded debris from collapsed buildings, curbs deep-rounded for emergency vehicles to hit corners at 35 mph. Our post war design standard is based at its core on disaster and death, not beauty and life. The fatalism of the American Condition is baked in to our surroundings, by code, by law and by 75 years of terror-based emotion.

So, yeah. Ramp, please.
As a 72 year old who was regularly made to hide under my schoolroom desk in nuclear attack drills in the 1950s, I agree with your assessment. Also, IMO, brutalist architecture was an artifact of the bunker mentality with buildings that looked bomb-resistant and fortified (i.e.; City Hall and the Hurley Building). As crazy are the times we live in now, they aren't quite as crazy as the 1950s and 60s when world-wide nuclear destruction could happen at any time.
 

shmessy

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As a 72 year old who was regularly made to hide under my schoolroom desk in nuclear attack drills in the 1950s, I agree with your assessment. Also, IMO, brutalist architecture was an artifact of the bunker mentality with buildings that looked bomb-resistant and fortified (i.e.; City Hall and the Hurley Building). As crazy are the times we live in now, they aren't quite as crazy as the 1950s and 60s when world-wide nuclear destruction could happen at any time.
Hypersonic Nuclear Missiles?

You may want to reconsider your last sentence.
 
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Charlie_mta

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Hypersonic Nuclear Missiles?

You may want to reconsider your last sentence.
I hear you. but the talk lately has been smaller-scale nuclear weapons in eastern Europe rather than the traditional cold war era 50 megaton hydrogen bomb. But there is still always the chance of a large scale nuclear war using the 50 megaton H-bombs. In any case, what is going on now is horrible, and I pray for a quick end to it.
 

BeyondRevenue

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I don’t care if the threat is hypersonic or hyperbolic. Can we get vaporized in a place worth living in?
If death comes from above I’d rather greet it on a gorgeous street with a catcher’s mitt instead of being fused to a Corrolla trying to escape in the mythical 12-minute window. How would anyone escape when the Pike would instantly turn into a parking lot of panicked idiots?
It would be ironic if the ramp opponents die trying to get out of the Back Bay via Mass Ave.
 
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RandomWalk

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I am amused that this thread has devolved into writing a screenplay for a Neal Stephenson book.
 

HenryAlan

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Looks like this is going to happen, with the state committing $179 million to the project. It will include replacement of the viaduct, eliminating the Charlesgate East connection, major landscaping and Muddy River daylighting, elevating Storrow Westbound to cross the river, a pedestrian path connecting the two sections of Newbury St., and a parallel to Bowker "green bridge" for pedestrian, bike, and other kinetic human connection between the Fens and the Charles Esplinade.

Details here: https://news.northeastern.edu/2022/10/04/charlesgate-park/

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h/t UniversalHub
 

stefal

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Replacement of the bridge over I-90 begins in 2024 or 2025, and the reconfiguration of Storrow starts in 2027. Total project timeline seems to be 10 years...
 

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