I-90 Interchange Improvement Project & West Station | Allston

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Until more transit capacity is built, I don't see reducing lanes on major highways. Build the transit first, then reduce the highways. Otherwise the gridlock will get much worse.
I mean, I agree with you in theory. But if we're talking about a major highway rebuilding project like this, this is the most logical opportunity to shrink highway capacity, not after the entire 8 lanes have been built. That reinforces car commuting patterns, is unnecessarily expensive, and does not align with the Commonwealth's transportation and climate goals. Shrinking the number of lanes later, after the highway is rebuilt, seems silly to me. All you could do would be to take away car lanes and add express bus / HOV lanes. My $.02.

Of course higher Pike tolls, congestion pricing in the core, and going forward with the gas tax increase should all be part of this effort as well to discourage driving at all costs.
 

George_Apley

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I mean, I agree with you in theory. But if we're talking about a major highway rebuilding project like this, this is the most logical opportunity to shrink highway capacity, not after the entire 8 lanes have been built. That reinforces car commuting patterns, is unnecessarily expensive, and does not align with the Commonwealth's transportation and climate goals. Shrinking the number of lanes later, after the highway is rebuilt, seems silly to me. All you could do would be to take away car lanes and add express bus / HOV lanes. My $.02.

Of course higher Pike tolls, congestion pricing in the core, and going forward with the gas tax increase should all be part of this effort as well to discourage driving at all costs.
To F-Line’s point though, reducing capacity on the Pike between Allston and the SE Expressway screws up other downsizing possibilities in the future.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I mean, I agree with you in theory. But if we're talking about a major highway rebuilding project like this, this is the most logical opportunity to shrink highway capacity, not after the entire 8 lanes have been built. That reinforces car commuting patterns, is unnecessarily expensive, and does not align with the Commonwealth's transportation and climate goals. Shrinking the number of lanes later, after the highway is rebuilt, seems silly to me. All you could do would be to take away car lanes and add express bus / HOV lanes. My $.02.

Of course higher Pike tolls, congestion pricing in the core, and going forward with the gas tax increase should all be part of this effort as well to discourage driving at all costs.
That's not a coherent argument. "We don't have plausible long-term transit offsets, but because this is short-term decision...chop the nose off your face anyway." No. If you're making that decision, it has to be a setup to the encore that does provide the offsets otherwise you're careening yourself straight into a bottleneck problem. The problem here is there doesn't appear to be any encores that finish the load reduction job if you're chopping Pike capacity with a lane-drop in this spot.

In contrast, that Storrow midsection diet does have a future offset possibility. By reducing Charlesgate-Public Gardens from 6 parkway lanes to 2-lane slow park access road and sending that redundant load to the Pike, you potentially free up one carriageway's worth of road pack for a transit trade-in in the form of extending Blue Line from Charles MGH to Kenmore that would offset the same number of commuters on a different mode in the same project area. (We've discussed the situation-specific particulars of that prospect at length before viz-a-viz the Storrow diet, so I recommend board-searching for add'l background rather than re-hashing on a tangent here). And do that offset while additionally...per my last post...reclaiming the maximum acreage of possible riverfront parkland at the maximum utilization part of the Esplanade.

Now...let's be clear before there's a thread-derail tangent: Storrow midsection politics are a whole future debate unto themselves. Duly acknowledged. We'll hash-out all the multitude of the pros/cons like gentleperson (and not-so-gentleperson) civic advocates when that time comes. But going STRAIGHT to your logic re: 'throat' options: that is exactly the definition of a scenario WITH offsets available that's worth debating. "Tear out the extra lanes now and. . . [voice trails off]" isn't, because the future encores for offsets aren't there for the lane-drop you're proposing. Moreover, for that future midsection parkway diet the future debate is contingent on Pike lanes not being shorted between Newton Corner and 93. Unless you can find similarly robust offset for an outright lane deletion around the 'throat', it's not a proposal that can be offset. It is a straight-up now sacrificing of future considerations.


MassDOT's not saying "NO!" for the lizard-brain reaction of saying "NO!" It's saying that if lane-drops are being proposed now, there has to be a tangible future offset in the project area. There isn't one--at least not tangible that you could ballpark numbers to--in the project area. Moreover, they know damn well the Storrow midsection is going to be a future debate that DOES have meaty empirical pro/con arguments re: actual offsets, so they are keenly aware of what the no-offset lane-drop request now does to the plenty-offsets future debate re: Storrow and don't want any part of getting dragged for earth-salting in instant gratification. Because...lest I remind again...hundreds more acres of reclaimed max-utilization park is at-stake with that future Storrow midsection debate than the tapemeasure-to-strip-of-crabgrass debate that we're having over the 'throat' riverfront right now. The conservationist advocates are going to be all over that one in a way that dwarfs their involvement to-date on the 'throat'.

The terms can't be clearer. Either offer something with never-before-considered capacity offsets on their terms, or acknowledge that outright lane deletion isn't going to satisfy the base requirements.
 
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bakgwailo

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Until more transit capacity is built, I don't see reducing lanes on major highways. Build the transit first, then reduce the highways. Otherwise the gridlock will get much worse.
Could always reduce it by one line - 3 each direction and still keep peak capacity in one direction with a zipper lane (ducks). Don't know what one lane really buys you, and, I would think keeping the full 4 lanes each direction would be more future proof for say dedeicated bus/transit lanes down the pike.
 

Charlie_mta

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^ This alternative is the best overall. They would need to add a sound wall, however, between the Mass pike and the Trail.
 

George_Apley

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So how is ^^ different from the alt that was just punted due to a decade-long build and temp highways in the Charles?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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So how is ^^ different from the alt that was just punted due to a decade-long build and temp highways in the Charles?
It appears it has exactly the Pike lane reduction we've been talking for >1 page now being absolute no-go with MassDOT for lack of offsets. Whatever its other merits, the terms couldn't be clearer: try to cut lane capacity, to the trash heap it immediately goes. Again and again and again.

Nobody said we had to like those rules, but Job #1 is resolving a project-threatening stalemate and no new lane-drops are the terms of engagement for addressing said stalemate. Every subsequent cycled render that pretends that isn't the case really isn't doing anything to advance the discourse at all.
 

ccole

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Put the highway in a tunnel and imagine the possibilities at ground level. There are tunnels under bodies of water all over the world. Tunneling near the Charles should not be a problem.
Since this meeting last week, this idea has been in my mind as well. Can those who are more informed present the arguments for and against this option? I understand the context trepidation due to the Big Dig and costs of tunneling, but this would truly have a transformative effect. As far as I am aware, this option was never presented for consideration.
 

Wash

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The Big Dig was so complicated because they had to dig a tunnel through a city while keeping a highway running above it. Digging a short tunnel through a railyard while the highway remains diverted to one side would be much simpler.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Since this meeting last week, this idea has been in my mind as well. Can those who are more informed present the arguments for and against this option? I understand the context trepidation due to the Big Dig and costs of tunneling, but this would truly have a transformative effect. As far as I am aware, this option was never presented for consideration.
It's not going under a discrete body of water, it's staying beside it in a tidal marsh landfill zone that swings very near to the area of riverbank that is the most oft-flooded of the whole Charles Basin. Essentially it would be inclining-up from the tunnel right in the area where SFR sometimes has to be closed for being under a foot-plus of water during hellspawn rains. That is high-difficulty waterproofing.

Straight under-and-out river crossing is comparably much easier to waterproof than the section the 'throat' goes laterally through. $1B in additional cost above-and-beyond all that's proposed to spend right now. Suffice to say, self-explanatory why that was never presented for consideration.
 

Tallguy

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Since this meeting last week, this idea has been in my mind as well. Can those who are more informed present the arguments for and against this option? I understand the context trepidation due to the Big Dig and costs of tunneling, but this would truly have a transformative effect. As far as I am aware, this option was never presented for consideration.
I think the problem would be keeping the pike running above it
 

Charlie_mta

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I think the problem would be keeping the pike running above it
How about keeping the Pike at surface level, and tunneling SFR beneath the Pike eastbound lanes? Possibly the SFR tunnel could be excavated under the existing Pike westbound viaduct while keeping the viaduct open, as they did with the Big Dig thru downtown Boston. Then when the tunnel is done, reroute the eastbound Pike temporarily where the surface SFR is now. If the SFR tunnel floods, it would be far less of a traffic impact than a flooded Pike tunnel would be. Of course, the SFR tunnel would add a $billion to the cost.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Of course, the SFR tunnel would add a $billion to the cost.
Well, OK...and there's the answer for why it hasn't been proposed.


There has to be $1Bn stakes in the 'throat' for $1Bn solutions to not get excised straight to the trash heap sight-unseen.

Width-in-feet of grass strip gained? Vistas restored to Agganis Arena's rear trash loading dock? Not the stuff of $1Bn stakes.
 

cden4

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Here's an idea. During the 10 years when construction is ongoing and I-90 is reduced to 6 lanes, BUILD THE TRANSIT YOU NEED so that when the project is done, it can remain at 6 lanes.
 

George_Apley

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Here's an idea. During the 10 years when construction is ongoing and I-90 is reduced to 6 lanes, BUILD THE TRANSIT YOU NEED so that when the project is done, it can remain at 6 lanes.
That's missing the point that F-Line's been making about the relationship between the Pike and SFR/Storrow. If you ever want to downsize Storrow and get transit out of it, you need that capacity on the Pike.
 

stick n move

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Its coming down to the point where theyre going to have to go “hey whats that over there” and when theyre looking add 20’ to the bank of the charles... boom Every. Single. Problem. Solved. Then when they go “hey, but it thought...” everyone just plays along and says na its always been like that idk what your talking about. As long as everyone agrees then its good. At this point this is the only option..
 

tangent

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Its coming down to the point where theyre going to have to go “hey whats that over there” and when theyre looking add 20’ to the bank of the charles... boom Every. Single. Problem. Solved. Then when they go “hey, but it thought...” everyone just plays along and says na its always been like that idk what your talking about. As long as everyone agrees then its good. At this point this is the only option..
Exactly. Add 20' to the bank of the Charles.

Or eliminate the pedestrian/bike infrastructure on that side of the Charles until transit capacity or demand drop proves a lane reduction/shift away from the Charles is possible.

Spending an extra billion and making the project take another decade so people don't have to go across the bridge to the Cambridge side to walk their dogs or ride their bikes doesn't make sense. How much is that per dog?

Building another viaduct just locks us in for another 50 years. Do we even need the transportation capacity given the new patterns that are evolving?
 

Tallguy

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I continue to wonder why putting the rail lines underneath a ground level pike has never seemed to have seen the light of day. You'd need serious water mitigation.
 

jklo

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I continue to wonder why putting the rail lines underneath a ground level pike has never seemed to have seen the light of day. You'd need serious water mitigation.
You could do Green GJ but not CR.
 

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