Crazy Highway Pitches

George_Apley

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It's rather easy to make social justice arguments for 'x', unfortunately it's also easy for other people make social justice arguments against the same 'x'

You might remember @davem's (I think it was Dave's at least) elaborate decking plan for this corridor. It was pretty awesome. Not sure if I can find it anymore.
 

stefal

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It's rather easy to make social justice arguments for 'x', unfortunately it's also easy for other people make social justice arguments against the same 'x'

You might remember @davem's (I think it was Dave's at least) elaborate decking plan for this corridor. It was pretty awesome. Not sure if I can find it anymore.
I've still got to work out the details where it ends near Copley, but here's a revision of my idea, the Broadway Extension.

-Bidirectional ramps to I-90W on each side of Castle Square
-Offramp from I-90E into Castle Square
-Bidirectional cycle track in the center of the new Broadway (I'm designing it so where ever there would be left turning traffic there is a dedicated left turn lane and phase, that way cyclists can ride unimpeded.
-The WB ramps are in the middle of blocks so development can cover them relatively easily.



As you can see, I also brought back the New York Streets grid. Wishful thinking since the Herald project is making this pretty much impossible.

Close up of Castle Square (the one part I have basically finished):


I decided on purple as my "redevelopment opportunity" color, its rough to get a color that contrasts well with everything on a google map at 25% transparency.
 

MjolnirMan

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You might remember @davem's (I think it was Dave's at least) elaborate decking plan for this corridor. It was pretty awesome. Not sure if I can find it anymore.
Definitely, there have been a number of great ideas for how to treat this chasm, but so far none have materialized, leaving the air quality dangerously poor for this largely minority neighborhood and leading to health disparities.

One thought I had was, if private bidders for the difficult air rights parcels are hard to come by, having the state help finance the development of new state-of-the-art <5-story public schools/libraries/community centers on the Pike parcels directly adjacent to the aging Josiah Quincy School and Upper Schools, financing them (in part) by the sale/land-lease of the existing school structures and basketball courts on terra firma for development of tall residential towers with in-neighborhood affordable units (similar to the nearby Metropolitan).

But mainly my point was - whether we're talking about redeveloping the Marginal/Herald road network, or installing a new "greenway" of parks above the Pike, or constructing new buildings, none of these are going to happen anytime soon. In the interim, and in lieu of doing nothing until that point (perhaps decades or a century down the line), would it be reasonable and compelling for public health reasons to simply do a minimal deck of the openings, mainly for air quality impact? I'm thinking of a light decking, not designed to support much more than tunnel lights, some air circulators with filters, and maybe a very light green roof. There would be some secondary positives, such as less exposure of the Pike to the elements, but that wouldn't necessarily be the main goal here. Then they could be torn up as needed for parcel development, but only when and if that happens.
 

Roxxma

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My crazy highway pitch: Replace I-93 through the Middlesex Fells with a tunnel. The north portals of this deep bore tunnel wold be just south of Montvale Avenue in Woburn and the south portals would be at about Roosevelt Circle in Medford. The current alignment would then be restored to replicate some of the landscape and shorelines in the park that were destroyed to build I-93 in the 1960s. This would right a wrong that damaged a fairly well renowned state park, solve its noise problem, and also eliminate a relatively significant grade on a major highway. The tunnel could either follow the current alignment (~3.7 miles), or be built as a straight shot under the fells (~3.2 miles). No significant mineral rights takings in either alignment scenario would be necessary (well, under the Fells itself would likely require an order of taking by MassDOT from DCR, but that would me more of a formality, since DCR would be a major beneficiary).
 

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Scott

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My crazy highway pitch is a throw back: revive the bay bridge idea and remove the SE Expressway. The idea being to open up coastline in the city. Dorchester actually has miles of coastline, and in actual distance the ocean should be a short walk away. 93 is a blight and cuts off Boston's largest neighborhood from the water. Neponset and Clam Point for example are waterfront areas but you just wouldn't know it walking down the average street. Also there is great potential for new large scale development. At some point the land or the development potential should be worth more than the highway. Plus why should a resident in the city breath exhaust so others can drive from a leafy suburb?
 

stefal

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My crazy highway pitch: Replace I-93 through the Middlesex Fells with a tunnel. The north portals of this deep bore tunnel wold be just south of Montvale Avenue in Woburn and the south portals would be at about Roosevelt Circle in Medford. The current alignment would then be restored to replicate some of the landscape and shorelines in the park that were destroyed to build I-93 in the 1960s. This would right a wrong that damaged a fairly well renowned state park, solve its noise problem, and also eliminate a relatively significant grade on a major highway. The tunnel could either follow the current alignment (~3.7 miles), or be built as a straight shot under the fells (~3.2 miles). No significant mineral rights takings in either alignment scenario would be necessary (well, under the Fells itself would likely require an order of taking by MassDOT from DCR, but that would me more of a formality, since DCR would be a major beneficiary).
Before sinking massive costs into this, we'd need to see where AV and car ownership turn. If in 30 years, car ownership declines dramatically, it'd be (crazy and) cool to see portions of 93 turn into a 4-6 lane parkway.

My ideal vision puts public transportation first: Get regional rail running and built-out, extend the major HRT lines to their envisioned lengths, beef up the bus network, and then establish hubs for Uber-like AV's to assess last-mile inefficiencies busses and trains can't reach. If it's done right and by the right people (tech bros gotta let some urban planners, POLs, and transportation planners in on their schemes), the pricing could be done in such a way that you are highly subsidized to have your trip origin or destination be one of these major transit hubs, and inner-city to inner-city travel would be unreasonably priced for 90% of users.

With maturity (a very mature system/a full generation, likely), highways in the 95 belt would hopefully become a thing of the past. Parkways with shared use (pedestrians, bicycles, busses AVs, SOVs, more trees, less asphalt) can fit in the existing highway footprints and move a lot more people through much more efficiently, while not looking like the ideal American highway of 1950.
 

Scott

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I wonder

Edit: no, we don't have to wait for friggin flying cars
 

Benson

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Can you link the Bay Bridge proposal?
Not sure if it's similar to the idea that was floated during the Big Dig planning years to skip the tunnel and just build a bridge in the harbor. I once saw someone's hand-drawn concept they proudly titled "BBB: The Beautiful Boston Bypass!" but I can't remember where the hell I saw it. Then the idea resurfaced again briefly when someone wandered onto this forum and was showered with effusive praise and ushered out on the shoulders of the senior members then deposited into the back alley where he was blasted with confetti, handed a trophy for his excellence, and fed an expensive steak dinner before he got back into his 1984 Toyota Tercel and drove off back to where he came from.
https://archboston.com/community/threads/the-boston-bypass.2112/

Ooo found this too.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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They don't make 'em cray-cray these days quite like Boston Bypass Advocacy Guy was cray-cray back in the day.
 

Scott

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So to finish my crazy pitch: The SE XWay is the biggest impediment to finishing the Harborwalk south of the city and that could also connect to greatly expanded trails and parks along the Neponset River. It would allow the creation of a residential and commercial gateway to the city in Neponset Circle. Pope JP Park could be expanded, so could poor sad Tenean Beach. Giant swaths of waterfront land would open up east of Morrissey Blvd near Commercial Point, in an area that is already underutilized but seeing new developments. Then imagine what could be built or fixed from Dot Block north to potentially Broadway with no expressway
 

Charlie_mta

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So to finish my crazy pitch: The SE XWay is the biggest impediment to finishing the Harborwalk south of the city and that could also connect to greatly expanded trails and parks along the Neponset River. It would allow the creation of a residential and commercial gateway to the city in Neponset Circle. Pope JP Park could be expanded, so could poor sad Tenean Beach. Giant swaths of waterfront land would open up east of Morrissey Blvd near Commercial Point, in an area that is already underutilized but seeing new developments. Then imagine what could be built or fixed from Dot Block north to potentially Broadway with no expressway
I agree, and welcome the day when expressways are gone and the urban landscape reconnected. Some ideas along your lines have been proposed for the infamous L.A. freeways:
https://duttonarchitects.com/los-angeles-freeway-alternative/

Existing and proposed:

 

tysmith95

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Before sinking massive costs into this, we'd need to see where AV and car ownership turn. If in 30 years, car ownership declines dramatically, it'd be (crazy and) cool to see portions of 93 turn into a 4-6 lane parkway.

My ideal vision puts public transportation first: Get regional rail running and built-out, extend the major HRT lines to their envisioned lengths, beef up the bus network, and then establish hubs for Uber-like AV's to assess last-mile inefficiencies busses and trains can't reach. If it's done right and by the right people (tech bros gotta let some urban planners, POLs, and transportation planners in on their schemes), the pricing could be done in such a way that you are highly subsidized to have your trip origin or destination be one of these major transit hubs, and inner-city to inner-city travel would be unreasonably priced for 90% of users.

With maturity (a very mature system/a full generation, likely), highways in the 95 belt would hopefully become a thing of the past. Parkways with shared use (pedestrians, bicycles, busses AVs, SOVs, more trees, less asphalt) can fit in the existing highway footprints and move a lot more people through much more efficiently, while not looking like the ideal American highway of 1950.
If anything, autonomous vehicles will make highways more relevant and rail transit less so. Yes car ownership will decrease, but automobile usage will only increase.

Ideally cost savings and eventually things like congestion taxes could push people towards carpooling and small buses to replace single occupancy vehicle traffic.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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If anything, autonomous vehicles will make highways more relevant and rail transit less so. Yes car ownership will decrease, but automobile usage will only increase.

Ideally cost savings and eventually things like congestion taxes could push people towards carpooling and small buses to replace single occupancy vehicle traffic.
No...this is completely false and completely misleading. Single-occupancy vehicles will never displace high-occupancy mass transit. Capacity per vehicle is short by too many orders of magnitude to prevent bottlenecking, and there isn't enough Jetsons Shit AI you can throw at the problem to close the gap in its entirety.

Elon Musk loves peddling junk science sourced from this fallacy to prop up investment grifts like Hyperloop (which is barely paratransit van -sized in its transit capacity) and Boring Co. Autonomous vehicles can streamline some forms of congestion if regulations v. technology hit an ideal convergence point. And that will be all well and good for the targets where it does the most good. But it will never be physically possible to make single-occupancy vehicles a drop-in replacement for transit vehicles that can carry HUNDREDS of passengers per trip on well-defined corridors. The orders of magnitude difference is too diametrically opposed for magic AI pixie dust to smooth over...especially when the high-occupancy transit vehicles can/do/will use the very same AI tech to usefully increase their future service densities.

As Musk has shown while he goes about his quixotic troll quest to upend HSR, this is a downright dangerous falsehood to be peddling to the public.
 
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stefal

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If anything, autonomous vehicles will make highways more relevant and rail transit less so. Yes car ownership will decrease, but automobile usage will only increase.
Eh, debatable... but to your second point, that's what I was alluding to with the pricing structure if car ownership decreases. I assume AV's will have a similar structure to Uber. Set up pricing structures that are integrated with public transit and/or incentivize "node" trips wherein trips to/from transit hubs (subway, bus, CR) and wherever your last mile leads to, to be far less expensive than a typical point-point SOV/uber ride one might take today. It's a bit of a reach to dream for this kind of government spending, cooperation, and functionality, but that's the purpose of this thread.
 

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