Bowker Overpass replacement?

fatnoah

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...eliminating the Charlesgate East connection
While this eliminates a route that I personally used frequently (Brookline/Fenway to Back Bay via Commonwealth), I can see the logic, though I wonder how it'll perform on days when Kenmore Square is busy/crowded since Commonwealth and Boylston were the most common west to east routes in that area, and Commonwealth was the most reliably uncrowded if one's destination was on Commonwealth, Marlborough, or Beacon streets. Merely getting to Commonwealth from Boylston could be a big challenge during the evening rush when all roads leading to Storrow get busy.
 

lainpimicaja

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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...
In that case, I feel like this is another sad instance of MassDOT skating toward the puck - the goal ten years from now should be no cars on Storrow Drive. It's really aggravating to see small-mindedness and reactiveness guiding projects like these.
 

Charlie_mta

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In this plan,
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
In this plan, they still are not tearing down the overpass, just improving the environment underneath it and reducing Storrow Drive's footprint. Aside from the great restorative components, the proposal still is a bit half-assed, IMHO.
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this overpass! (channeling Ronald Reagan)
 

millerm277

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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.
I recognize they're trying to show off the park design, but I feel like I'm having trouble parsing the road configuration in this diagram with the erratic use of transparency. Is there an actual road diagram somewhere?
 

HenryAlan

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In theory, I like the idea of eliminating the overpass. But I don't think it's practical on the kind of timeline we'd like. We have not done remotely enough work to eliminate car dependence. And this bridge is a pretty crucial link for car based travel. I mostly bike or take the T, but right now, we are still stuck with too large a population for which such modes do not work. Without Bowker, cars will detour on to Boylston and Mass Ave., or Park Drive and Beacon St., making traffic worse. I think we have to acknowledge this in thinking about how to address this location. Like it or not, Storrow is still going to be here for a couple of decades, and there will be large numbers of people needing access via the Bowker.
 

RandomWalk

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The Zakim has openings between the carriageways to let light reach the river for the fish. If they rebuilt the vehicular overpass with similar openings, that would reduce the moat-like feel of crossing under the overpass.
 

BeyondRevenue

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They had to make the overpasses transparent because they don't want us to think that it's the same turd with a different polish. Throw down some new sod, add a tree, a new path or two. It's design chicanery!
You want to kill heavy traffic in that area of town and take some people off Mass Ave, Boylston and Storrow? Make highway ramps to vent out 'burbie Kenmore traffic.
 

BeyondRevenue

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How loud will the person in the wheelchair be screaming to be heard over all that unnecessary shit above their head? It'll be just like now -- a place you have to get through, not a place to be. The most accurate part of these sketches is these people look like inverted ghosts.
1669216726276.png
 

dhawkins

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I understand this is a schematic but the East bound off ramp is crazy! That's a hair pin turn while inclining at a tremendous rate! The ramp should be cross-sloped like a race track corner or many cars will jump the rails and end up in the muddy river. Actually all the transitions to and from Storrow look fairly steep.
 

Equilibria

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I understand this is a schematic but the East bound off ramp is crazy! That's a hair pin turn while inclining at a tremendous rate! The ramp should be cross-sloped like a race track corner or many cars will jump the rails and end up in the muddy river. Actually all the transitions to and from Storrow look fairly steep.
Unless I'm missing something, isn't that the same ramp that's currently there?

Also, interesting that they don't acknowledge/plan for the possibility of air rights over the Pike between Brookline Avenue and Charlesgate West. The Red Sox have already included that as a long-term component of Fenway Corners. This design would work well for it, I'm just surprised they didn't take the opportunity to render it in.
 

Charlie_mta

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In theory, I like the idea of eliminating the overpass. But I don't think it's practical on the kind of timeline we'd like. We have not done remotely enough work to eliminate car dependence. And this bridge is a pretty crucial link for car based travel.
I like to look a bit differently at these types of transportation issues. The way I look at it is: what if the Bowker overpass had never been built in the first place? That is an entirely possible scenario. It was built at the same time as the Mass Pike extension, not formally a part of that project, but as a direct result. At the time in the early 1960s, the Charlesgate road bridge over the railroad had to be replaced due to the Pike construction, so that provided an opportunity to add the overpass as an extension of that new bridge. I"m guessing if the Pike had not been built, then there never would have been a Bowker overpass. At the time, a real debate was raging about whether or not to terminate the Pike coming in from the west at Allston in anticipation of the planned tie in to the (subsequently cancelled) Inner Belt Expressway. My point is, if the Bowker had not been built, then traffic would have never known the difference, and would have dealt one way or another with the Bowker's non-existence. So, why not eliminate it now and allow traffic to adjust accordingly. In an alternative history, it may never have been built anyway.
 
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MjolnirMan

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While these are all big improvements, I think this image with the "ghost Bowker" is somewhat misleading and implies a total removal of the viaduct between Newbury St. and Storrow - which, if you scroll up and back in this thread, is absolutely realistic by diverting to Charlesgate East and West, with some redesigned light timing. Showing currently barren, lightless gravel lots under the overpass as "reclaimed parkland" in vibrant green is a bit of a stretch.

E: Oh, I didn't see the similar comments above before I posted this. My bad!
 

bakgwailo

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Just staring at the map I can't help but think something at grade could work utilizing the existing Charlesgate East and West roads - thinking of West taking traffic into Kenmore/Fenway, east taking traffic out of them, and extending both into two smaller Pike/Ipswitch crossings that can then interface into Boylston St. Would lose a bit of park here, but, would that not be worth getting rid of the overpass entirely? Will admit CG West seems the easier fit, with CG East being a bit more shoehorned into a Bolyston St connection. I don't see how this would work any worse than say the Forest Hills overpass removal provided intersection crossing and lights are intelligently designed and timed.
 

Charlie_mta

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While these are all big improvements, I think this image with the "ghost Bowker" is somewhat misleading and implies a total removal of the viaduct between Newbury St. and Storrow - which, if you scroll up and back in this thread, is absolutely realistic by diverting to Charlesgate East and West, with some redesigned light timing. Showing currently barren, lightless gravel lots under the overpass as "reclaimed parkland" in vibrant green is a bit of a stretch.

E: Oh, I didn't see the similar comments above before I posted this. My bad!
I love how the plan view "ghosts" out the Bowker so that it appears to not be there, and how all the renders include trees and view angles that obscure it
 

MjolnirMan

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Just staring at the map I can't help but think something at grade could work utilizing the existing Charlesgate East and West roads - thinking of West taking traffic into Kenmore/Fenway, east taking traffic out of them, and extending both into two smaller Pike/Ipswitch crossings that can then interface into Boylston St. Would lose a bit of park here, but, would that not be worth getting rid of the overpass entirely? Will admit CG West seems the easier fit, with CG East being a bit more shoehorned into a Bolyston St connection. I don't see how this would work any worse than say the Forest Hills overpass removal provided intersection crossing and lights are intelligently designed and timed.
I thought the discussion happened in this thread but it was actually the WOOP/Kenmore thread - something like this has actually been studied officially and unofficially and I think could be very viable:

There have been a few similar proposals that involved demolition of the overpass. This 2015 Massachusetts Turnpike Boston Ramps and Bowker Overpass Study essentially diverts the overpass to the ramps connected to Comm Ave, and then uses Charlesgate E/W to connect to Storrow:
1669232635429.png

However, they determined that:
LOS and queuing results for Alternative 1 show that removing the Bowker Overpass would result in a decrease in LOS operations with several intersections having a LOS of F. Significant increases in potential queuing occur, with expected queues spilling back through previous intersections.
1669232656121.png


On the other hand, Northeastern professor Peter G. Furth created a Bowker-free model that he claims:
• Carries all the existing traffic – with good LOS
• Provides for pedestrian crossings
• Reconnects Charlesgate Park with the Esplanade
• Widens usable part of Esplanade
• Expands the usable part of Charlesgate Park
• Reduces highway impact on Muddy River
1669232677659.png
1669232687517.png


This project also included a nice video of the traffic simulation software PTV Vissm in action:
 

bakgwailo

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Not going up lie I try to stay out of the whoop thread when possible so thank you for sharing that! And yeah something along those lines, although I think you could combine it with the simplification of the river side of the current proposal for something really transformative.
 

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