DCR Allston-Brighton Riverfront Parks and Parkways

Equilibria

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Alternatives (meeting sides) here:


I'm curious why the alternatives here seem to be preserving SFR and dieting Birmingham Parkway... I'd do the opposite. Eliminate SFR past Western/Arsenal, route the road up to a 4-way crossing at-grade, and extend Soldiers Field Place to meet Birmingham Parkway and provide access for the lots back in there (if they even exist in 10 years and aren't rolled up into a master planned development) and the car dealerships.

You have two fully duplicative roads and you chose to diet/eliminate the one that won't expand your riverfront park?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Yuck. Birmingham is pure empty calories between Market and N. Beacon anyway. Why are they over-trying so hard to preserve it???

If anything, it should be severed to allow a Pike WB offramp/onramp pair here to redirect a large portion of Watertown Sq.-bound traffic to severely underutilized N. Beacon + Nonantum so Newton Corner and Center/Galen no longer have to be as load-bearing and can be sharply dieted and re-transited. Unfortunately, somebody at MassDOT appears to be too overinvested in their lazy 2-block/4-lane shortcut for sensible things to ever happen.
 

Equilibria

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Yuck. Birmingham is pure empty calories between Market and N. Beacon anyway. Why are they over-trying so hard to preserve it???

If anything, it should be severed to allow a Pike WB offramp/onramp pair here to redirect a large portion of Watertown Sq.-bound traffic to severely underutilized N. Beacon + Nonantum so Newton Corner and Center/Galen no longer have to be as load-bearing and can be sharply dieted and re-transited. Unfortunately, somebody at MassDOT appears to be too overinvested in their lazy 2-block/4-lane shortcut for sensible things to ever happen.
It's a DCR study, not a MassDOT study. DCR doesn't build Turnpike interchanges :). Simple as that.

In theory, what's the best way to structure that? The Turnpike would need to shift north to create enough separation from the tracks to allow for the ramp, and could you realign that without impacting the Market Street bridge? I feel like there's cascading impacts.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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It's a DCR study, not a MassDOT study. DCR doesn't build Turnpike interchanges :). Simple as that.
A *weak* argument because the reporting relationships involved under the MassDOT umbrella amount to a false wall. I mean...one's study methodology needs some tightening if arbitrary barriers force you to just *have* to double-down spending money on utterly pointless things (i.e. keeping Birmingham intact instead of giving full treatment to a representative slate of alternate disposal options). I mean...how's that going to sell? "Oh sorry...intragency cooperation is so piss poor here we're incapable of joining hands over the proverbial office cube wall and have no choice but to tie ourselves in knots." They could've simply opted to making the Birmingham options conditional on a joint study instead of going all-in on a totally bad-faith workup.

DCR v. MassHighway has absolutely no qualms being a fluid give-and-take when they want it to be. The otherwise excuse only becomes convenient when somebody calling the shots is too over-invested in a contiguously unchanged Birmingham.
 

Equilibria

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DCR v. MassHighway has absolutely no qualms being a fluid give-and-take when they want it to be. The otherwise excuse only becomes convenient when somebody calling the shots is too over-invested in a contiguously unchanged Birmingham.
Birmingham isn't unchanged here, though. It's reduced massively to a two-lane neighborhood street. The emphasis is shifted to SFR.

I actually think that DCR thinks this is an ambitious proposal. I'd be surprised if anyone from MassDOT is paying attention to it (anyone who plans or designs things, anyway). No one from MassDOT was listed as a presenter.
 

bigeman312

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Every one of these alternatives seems like a big step in the right direction compared to the status quo.

2B and 2C in particular are well-aligned with the Emerald Network Vision.

Every one of the 1x variations on "The 'Eye'" would be a godsend, with a ton of land converted from overbuilt quasi-highway to green space. What's best is that for those of us who use the Charles River Bike Path, it would transition from 'path between highway and green space' to 'path within green space.'

The biggest thing missing from this presentation, in my opinion, is an improved bike path & North Beacon crossing. At the very, very least (and I'm begging for crumbs here), there needs to be a bike/ped signal with a beg button. In a perfect world, grade separation. ;-)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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In theory, what's the best way to structure that? The Turnpike would need to shift north to create enough separation from the tracks to allow for the ramp, and could you realign that without impacting the Market Street bridge? I feel like there's cascading impacts.
Westbound-only...not Eastbound. Cutting Birmingham between Market & N. Beacon lets you repurpose 1 of the parkway's 2 carriageways into a 1500 ft. offramp to N. Beacon. With the other carriageway either going away entirely or going 2-lane. Which in turn creates breathing room for further busting-down SFR because the Pike can absorb more of the Allston-Watertown loading. And that is important if your ultimate aim is reclaiming the most riverfront land humanly possible (say, for example, chopping loads enough to compact the massive sprawl around Eliot Bridge). The onramp would square up with the Parsons or Brooks intersection (YMMV depending on which rotary-compacting Alt. gets picked. The onramp is short but eats the breakdown lane for acceleration-before-merge and thus requires minimal landscaping to enact. The merge lane transitions into the dotted super-long exit-only lane for Newton Corner for traffic sorting. Nothing gets touched on the Pike mainline (and if it's the Brooks intersection where the onramp is instead of Parsons, there wouldn't even be a bridge mod).

Pike EB in the morning would still dump its load on Newton Corner, but if PM loads heading back westbound could be redirected down more capable Nonantum + N. Beacon to the new onramp the loading becomes asynchronous enough to do a significant amount of traffic calming on Center/Galen. Better transit, better parking ratios, flippage of auto-centric gas stations + repair shops to something better, etc.


I swear the WB onramp/offramp prospect at least got audibled in some prior study approx. 15 years ago. Mentioned at least if not given a complete workup. Maybe as an addendum to the studies about additional WB ramps closer to Downtown. It definitely would remove enough loading off SFR to lean in harder on the parkland reclamation, so is worth a study workup for that reason if no other.
 

RandomWalk

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Of the options presented, I would prefer 1B + 2B, if dumping the parkway entirely isn’t really feasible.
 

Equilibria

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Westbound-only...not Eastbound. Cutting Birmingham between Market & N. Beacon lets you repurpose 1 of the parkway's 2 carriageways into a 1500 ft. offramp to N. Beacon. With the other carriageway either going away entirely or going 2-lane. Which in turn creates breathing room for further busting-down SFR because the Pike can absorb more of the Allston-Watertown loading. And that is important if your ultimate aim is reclaiming the most riverfront land humanly possible (say, for example, chopping loads enough to compact the massive sprawl around Eliot Bridge). The onramp would square up with the Parsons or Brooks intersection (YMMV depending on which rotary-compacting Alt. gets picked. The onramp is short but eats the breakdown lane for acceleration-before-merge and thus requires minimal landscaping to enact. The merge lane transitions into the dotted super-long exit-only lane for Newton Corner for traffic sorting. Nothing gets touched on the Pike mainline (and if it's the Brooks intersection where the onramp is instead of Parsons, there wouldn't even be a bridge mod).

Pike EB in the morning would still dump its load on Newton Corner, but if PM loads heading back westbound could be redirected down more capable Nonantum + N. Beacon to the new onramp the loading becomes asynchronous enough to do a significant amount of traffic calming on Center/Galen. Better transit, better parking ratios, flippage of auto-centric gas stations + repair shops to something better, etc.


I swear the WB onramp/offramp prospect at least got audibled in some prior study approx. 15 years ago. Mentioned at least if not given a complete workup. Maybe as an addendum to the studies about additional WB ramps closer to Downtown. It definitely would remove enough loading off SFR to lean in harder on the parkland reclamation, so is worth a study workup for that reason if no other.
I get that westbound is easier, but eastbound is where the heartache is at Newton Corner, where the offramp backs up onto the mainline even in COVID conditions. Maybe an expensive/extensive intervention in Brighton makes sense if you consider it as an alternative to blowing up the Circle of Death...

Like, I get ease of the WB onramp as a low-cost, low-disruption initial step, but why not shoot for this? Full diamond or urban interchange or whatever at North Beacon, regrade stuff so it works, and punch through the soon-to-be-deceased Staples. Wildly simplifies the "eye" as well since there's only one through movement to SFR and Parsons is low-volume. Some developer comes along in the next boom to build "Brighton Landing" on the red parcels.

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North Shore

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Every one of these alternatives seems like a big step in the right direction compared to the status quo.

2B and 2C in particular are well-aligned with the Emerald Network Vision.

Every one of the 1x variations on "The 'Eye'" would be a godsend, with a ton of land converted from overbuilt quasi-highway to green space. What's best is that for those of us who use the Charles River Bike Path, it would transition from 'path between highway and green space' to 'path within green space.'

The biggest thing missing from this presentation, in my opinion, is an improved bike path & North Beacon crossing. At the very, very least (and I'm begging for crumbs here), there needs to be a bike/ped signal with a beg button. In a perfect world, grade separation. ;-)
Alt. 1C stands out for me because it eliminates the need for a left turn lane on the WB approach to Nonantum Rd. and provides a separated right turn lane onto N. Beacon St.

The roundabouts presented in Alt. 1B are great in theory, but would go to hell from an operational standpoint if the downstream signalized intersections ever get backed up.

Likewise, Alt. 2C provided vegetated buffers between both the travel lanes and the shared use path. That's a win-win-win in my book.
 

bigeman312

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I feel similarly, except put me down as a 1C+2B. The median between traffic lanes will provide little value beyond encouraging high-speed automobile traffic, which is not what's needed on this 0.4 mile stretch of road.

That being said, 1C+2C is my second choice.
 

Charlie_mta

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I get that westbound is easier, but eastbound is where the heartache is at Newton Corner, where the offramp backs up onto the mainline even in COVID conditions. Maybe an expensive/extensive intervention in Brighton makes sense if you consider it as an alternative to blowing up the Circle of Death...

Like, I get ease of the WB onramp as a low-cost, low-disruption initial step, but why not shoot for this? Full diamond or urban interchange or whatever at North Beacon, regrade stuff so it works, and punch through the soon-to-be-deceased Staples. Wildly simplifies the "eye" as well since there's only one through movement to SFR and Parsons is low-volume. Some developer comes along in the next boom to build "Brighton Landing" on the red parcels.

View attachment 11815
I agree: build a full set of EB and WB on/off ramps as you show. With no toll booths needed anymore, the Pike should have more on/off ramps all across the State. Birmingham Parkway only exists because it was there before SFR was built. It can be eliminated to make room for the ramps.
 

ra84970

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Along the river, I'd push them to go further to protect the recreational users of the PDW path and consider a undercrossing of North Beacon in all the versions.

I do like roundabouts because are very much able to absorb vehicle flows, but, i wonder if this is a location where they could consider sprial or turbo-style roundabouts instead of the 2x2 ones they're showing. It would get at some of the traffic operations considerations downstream.

In addition, I could see the road diet being done in a way that keeps an option open for creating the onramp that @F-Line to Dudley mentions would make some sense for the River highways.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I agree: build a full set of EB and WB on/off ramps as you show. With no toll booths needed anymore, the Pike should have more on/off ramps all across the State. Birmingham Parkway only exists because it was there before SFR was built. It can be eliminated to make room for the ramps.
FWIW...the timeframe where this prospect surfaced was well before the change to open-road tolling was ever acknowledged. And also dovetailed with the studies for very small-scale WB-only nip/tucks Downtown. If Newton Corner taming were in-scope along with speed-limit tolls being a clinched mandate, they'd have certainly been cueing up a much wider net of options inclusive of the whole roadway. That wasn't the case at the time. WB-only got the look-see because it was dirt cheap and Birmingham is wholly-expendable legacy cruft. Of course it would be somewhat unsatisfying for the asynchronous AM vs. PM loading at Newton Corner...but for the price and construction non-invasiveness it's not a big critical thinking exercise to begin with. And very much would check the box for allowing you to go harder at re-claiming more park along Soldiers Field Road.

Post 'Throat' debacle I doubt we're all that scared of modding the Pike mainline anymore, since if we can un-collapse the Allston farce from the singularity it's fallen into damn near anything of mere 'moderate' difficulty will look like a piece of cake in comparison. Mount a study today and you probably do treat EB vs. WB. Context is important for remembering what era that last got run up the flagpole.
 

ra84970

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For the Pike part of this conversation, I'm wondering if the state would pursue funding in the new federal infra bill as the turnpike extension was (?is?) an example of freeways being run pretty rough-shod through a neighborhood. Perhaps, the idea being to pursue a new pike interchange as rectifying the 'wrong' of having the Pike extension in your neighborhood but not great/no access to it.
 

Charlie_mta

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Something like this could fit in the space. This would provide a WB off-ramp and an EB on-ramp to the Mass Pike:
 

millerm277

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extend Soldiers Field Place to meet Birmingham Parkway and provide access for the lots back in there (if they even exist in 10 years and aren't rolled up into a master planned development) and the car dealerships.
There's ~2 story grade change from Soldiers Field Place to Birmingham Parkway. Look at the height of the retaining walls on the Vinfen building for an idea. Not saying it's insurmountable, but it'll be at least somewhat awkward to try to do that.

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Former bike/ped and sometimes car commuter through what they've dubbed "The Eye". (Oak Sq/Brooks St <-> Watertown).

I have a specific gripe here, which is that there's about zero people who ever have a reason to want to walk on the south side of the Brooks-Parsons stretch of Nonantum/N Beacon, and there's no need to accommodate it at all.

No one ever crosses under the Pike just to walk between Brooks/Parsons (because that would be dumb) and just about every other plausible user needs to wind up on the north side of the roadway anyway for their eventual destination, not to go between points on the southern side. Take the 3ft of land you save and put it towards the PDW.

A lot of these alternatives are putting in a lot of sidewalk, some very long crosswalks, and presumably some very long pedestrian phases that are very unnecessary and going to use up the "time budget" for the Nonantum/N Beacon intersection in a non-optimal way. (more time for crossing N Beacon at the bridge is a much better use of all that time)

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I also don't understand why these alternatives all seem to be:

- Only having 1 of 2/3 lanes that can go N Beacon (EB) -> SFR (EB). Seems to be the reverse of the actual traffic flows today, and if the diet is on Birmingham, why aren't the roads configured for being oriented towards SFR throughtput?

- Keeping N Beacon/Birmingham Pkwy as 2 lanes EB leaving the Eye. I can maybe understand it right at the intersection going WB in terms of queuing/intersection throughput, but not EB.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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For the Pike part of this conversation, I'm wondering if the state would pursue funding in the new federal infra bill as the turnpike extension was (?is?) an example of freeways being run pretty rough-shod through a neighborhood. Perhaps, the idea being to pursue a new pike interchange as rectifying the 'wrong' of having the Pike extension in your neighborhood but not great/no access to it.
Anything that takes loading off the Newton Corner circle of despair would rate bigly under that criteria. Because that flat-out gutted the prototypical cowpaths-to-square neighborhood massing that used to thrive there before Center/Galen started choking on endless tailpipe exhaust.

The river roads in Brighton are oddities for how far under-capacity they've always been, so judicious load-shifting away from Newton Corner to here would not unduly impact the surroundings. Definitely not when other bolt-tightening like the "Eye" and correcting various MDC-era bad design cruft also significantly improves the overall experience.
 

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