I-90 Interchange Improvement Project & West Station | Allston

cden4

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2007
Messages
1,131
Reaction score
58
A little transparency would certainly help with the "how many lanes do we need" discussion. MassDOT treats the public and the Task Force like they're idiots. So the question is: Did MassDOT actually analyze 6 or 7 lanes vs 8 lanes to see how it could be done with the least negative impact or are they just being lazy and saying "there are X number of cars, sorry we can't do it"? By not presenting their analysis, it makes people believe that they didn't actually do it. (I still am not convinced they did.) Based on past projects, when pushed further, they actually WERE able to reduce the number of lanes with little vehicular impact, but they didn't want to at first, claiming it "couldn't be done." Isn't the point of having a Task Force to try to work out these problems and weigh the tradeoffs?
 

cden4

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2007
Messages
1,131
Reaction score
58
Also, the Mass Pike will be 6 lanes for 10 years of construction. If we can survive for 10 years, and long term goals are to reduce SOVs in the City, doesn't it make the most sense to just LEAVE it at 6 lanes when we're done?
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
4,578
Reaction score
965
A little transparency would certainly help with the "how many lanes do we need" discussion. MassDOT treats the public and the Task Force like they're idiots. So the question is: Did MassDOT actually analyze 6 or 7 lanes vs 8 lanes to see how it could be done with the least negative impact or are they just being lazy and saying "there are X number of cars, sorry we can't do it"? By not presenting their analysis, it makes people believe that they didn't actually do it. (I still am not convinced they did.) Based on past projects, when pushed further, they actually WERE able to reduce the number of lanes with little vehicular impact, but they didn't want to at first, claiming it "couldn't be done." Isn't the point of having a Task Force to try to work out these problems and weigh the tradeoffs?
I agree that they could have been more prepared to answer the question over the past two weeks, but if the Task Force didn't bring it up for 8 years (they didn't) and the activists didn't bring it up for eight years (they didn't), you can't expect MassDOT to have clairvoyance enough to anticipate every demand and study them deeply. The reality is that this project has been brewing for a long time, and the advocacy community either ignored/neglected it until the 11th hour (Emily Norton) or have a blindly myopic agenda based around a single demand (People's Pike). Engagement brought results - the project has been transformed and re-conceived by MassDOT a half-dozen times to satisfy the community.

Designing a highway project isn't a conceptual business. It needs to be engineered for structural soundness, multimodal function, geotechnical, hydrological, and utilities. It actually has to be engineered repeatedly, for the condition in each phase of construction. It's not lazy to take the conceptual product of eight years of discussion, say "this is the goal" and then try to figure out how to actually build it.

FWIW, which prior highway projects are you referring to? MassDOT has been fairly progressive about road diets on arterial roads.

Also, the Mass Pike will be 6 lanes for 10 years of construction. If we can survive for 10 years, and long term goals are to reduce SOVs in the City, doesn't it make the most sense to just LEAVE it at 6 lanes when we're done?
Going back to the comment on the prior page, this is overly-simplistic. It's not going to be six lanes for ten years, it's going to be a crappy six lanes for ten years. Weaving all over the place. No shoulders. Jersey barriers nearly scraping the side mirrors of a car. And constantly changing. That's okay with the Feds and State as a temporary thing. Any width gained by losing lanes on the long-term condition would likely be spent on shoulders and accel/decel lanes. Again, that's not a bad idea IMO, but "number of lanes" is a generally misleading way to talk about highway volume.

And not to wade back into this, but reducing SOVs into the city, without implementing Regional Rail, means you've killed the city.
 

Highwayguy

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
22
Cden4,

As someone in the industry, I can almost 100% guarantee someone somewhere evaluated it. However, don't take these posts as a defense of DOTs handling of the project. If anything, I think they've been too transparent and let themselves be pulled in 1000 contradictory directions that have left us in this mess of indecision. Equilibria is 100% correct in his assessment.

Personally, l don’t care about 22 feet in a place only transit geeks will actually enjoy being. While we were arguing about this, we were letting DOT get away with the real crime of placing the pike AT GRADE through Beacon Yard proper. Its a legit carbon copy of the expressway at the South Bay exit; and DOT thinks that mess can function as a neighborhood center piece.

Did we not learn anything from the gash in our city from Comm Ave East? And the worst part is that a decked over boat slab would be stupid easy to pull off. Its only a pain to deck over the pike because you have to do it over live traffic; the engineering and materials are easy and (relatively) cheap. And the best part about a boat slab is you don’t even have to care about the water table, it’s called a boat slab for a reason. Same technique that was used on all those Storrow / SFR underpasses 60 years ago; this isn’t cutting edge tech. There is no excuse not to do this right the first time when building in a literal sandbox far removed from any TTC constraints.

Also don’t forget, we sold all this land to Harvard for like $5 and a couple of crimson sweaters. Granted, this was under Patrick so this administration is not to blame; but if we waited to sell until after we did all these improvements, 3/4 of this project could have been paid off by the sale alone. Its like selling a dilapidated house, then agreeing to pay the new owner for 10 years worth of renovations.

And now after all that moaning and complaining and what if-ing, just please, for the love of God, build the thing.
 
Last edited:

citydweller

Active Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Messages
108
Reaction score
84
Also, the Mass Pike will be 6 lanes for 10 years of construction. If we can survive for 10 years, and long term goals are to reduce SOVs in the City, doesn't it make the most sense to just LEAVE it at 6 lanes when we're done?
not unless WFH is a long term, universal mandate, which it won't be. Too many reasons to be commuting to Boston, business, airport, sports, colleges, tourism, etc. Also, the viaduct by BU has reached it's life expectancy so this has to happen, right?

An analogy may be the major reconstruction of 84 between Hartford and Waterbury. It took about 15 years to complete. It sucked while it was occurring but it's vastly improved today. I'm glad they did it as a frequent commuter to Southern CT.
 

Highwayguy

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
22
1595008638863.png


Wow. Not even a token deck park across from W. Station between the two overpasses to link it to the neighborhood. Between the Pike on one side and the layover yard on the other, West Station is going to look like Baltimore Union, minus the Beaux-arts waiting room.

1595009267083.png


If the only development is transit, does this still technically count as transit oriented development?
/s
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
View attachment 6241

Wow. Not even a token deck park across from W.station between the two overpasses to link it to the neighborhood. Between the pike on one side and the layover yard on the other, West Station is going to be Baltimore Union, minus the Beaux-arts waiting room.

If the only development is transit, does this still technically count as transit oriented development?


Sadly, the real troubleshooting work with Beacon Park only begins after we fix the 'throat' impasse.
 

Highwayguy

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
22


Sadly, the real troubleshooting work with Beacon Park only begins after we fix the 'throat' impasse.
At this rate, by the time the throat design is finalized that image may as well be titled "High Tide in Allston."

Being serious for a minute, l still think this project will turn out OK and be a vast improvement to what is/was there.
 
Last edited:

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
500
Reaction score
35
By the time the EB SFR lanes transition under the Mass Pike viaduct, and then transition out, the actual length of EB SFR being fully under the Mass Pike viaduct is somewhat short, so it's really not worth it.
What about if SFR was sunk? If you don't move SFR otherwise (ie: no park right at the throat), there would be enough room to have the Pike at grade. The only viaduct you would need is for Grand Junction.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
What about if SFR was sunk? If you don't move SFR otherwise (ie: no park right at the throat), there would be enough room to have the Pike at grade. The only viaduct you would need is for Grand Junction.
Because near the 'throat' SFR floods like a sonofabitch in heavy rain and when Charles Basin overtops. Sinking the infrastructure physically closest to the water is no-go in this one constrained spot because of the budget bomb the requisite waterproofing would unleash.
 

Highwayguy

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
22
Well technically feasible (see Storrow EB by the Hatchshell), due to the tight width to work with, the construction phasing would difficult to pull off unless SFR was outright closed for the duration. Not to mention due to the proximity to the Charles, this would have to be treated as essentially in water construction, driving up the construction (and maintenance) costs up quite a bit. Obviously it would be nice, but the cost benefit isn’t really worth it for an additional 50’ of park.

In addition to what F Line said.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
At this rate, by the time the throat design is finalized that image may as well be titled "High Tide in Allston."

Being serious for a minute, l still think this project will turn out OK and be a vast improvement to what is/was there.
It'll be "OK" in the sense that you can continue fussing around with the nonsensical street grid and inverted, alienating transit placement till the cows come home...since solving the 'throat' allows construction to proceed on the viaduct replacement before the existing structure needs end-of-life patch repairs. And you can do significant parts of the other Pike-specific realignment tasks while still arguing about getting a second spanning street from BU and other details, because it's not the end of the world if median space is reserved for a bridge abutment that may or may not come later.

It's most definitely not "OK" in the sense that the chunky street grid makes zero sense for any density development and does nothing to encourage making a walkable neighborhood out of Lower Allston, that Harvard seems to be completely disengaged and overtly engaging in a 30-year land-parking job before touching this slab, that the train station and train yard are positioned ass backwards for maximum isolation to where the only extant passengers originate from, that the train yard is woefully inadequate-size for T needs if Widett Circle is no longer available while Harvard's only current involvement seems to be putting pressure on a zero-out, and that the transit service plans (presently over-focused on a Grand Junction Urban Rail dinky they can't prove with any evidence can actually net useful frequencies, rather than so much as any loose talk of Urban Ring) are incoherent.

All ^that^ stuff is pure dumpster fire, with disengaged planning that raises the "Alewife terror alert" way too high for my liking. But all that dumpster-firefighting is fungible while the most critical thrust of the Pike project gets underway, so not only aren't we out of time but on some discrete aspects related to dev & neighborhood transpo the clock hasn't even begun ticking.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
Well technically feasible (see Storrow EB by the Hatchshell), due to the tight width to work with, the construction phasing would difficult to pull off unless SFR was outright closed for the duration. Not to mention due to the proximity to the Charles, this would have to be treated as essentially in water construction, driving up the construction (and maintenance) costs up quite a bit. Obviously it would be nice, but the cost benefit isn’t really worth it for an additional 50’ of park.
The difference is that by the Hatch the roadway is 200 ft. from the Lagoon, and 400 ft. from the open basin. Storrow never floods there; the Lagoon causeway absorbs any/all of it before it gets within 200 ft. And that's not a 'good' tunnel by any stretch, either. Its cheap construction methods are a perpetual maint headache for concrete spalling due to groundwater dampness...but at least is 100% inoculated from flowing water. I don't think there's ever been an inundating event in the 80+ year history of the current parks + road layout of the Lagoon area.

BU Boathouse and Magazine Beach diagonal from each other are the most flood-prone parts of the lower basin, influenced by the bend in the river (and which side the wind is blowing through the bend) meeting moderate pinch point in the basin's width. There's simply no way you can inoculate against a 20-year overtopping event there with only the 25-50 ft. of berm to play with + 2-5 ft. riverbank elevation the whole length of the 'throat'. And that's just for the benign soaker events where SFR/Storrow are legitimately closed to traffic for several hours to day or two couple times per decade. Nevermind the 50- and 100-year flood events greater than "Flood of '96"-level that are the pants-shitting scary reality we now have to plan all infrastructure around. Even flipping the Pike side for a cut is going to be a monstrous budget bloater for required drainage above-and-beyonds because any buffer width + width of surface SFR pavement you'd be talking is still not nearly enough to stop an overtop of the low shoreline from sending a linear Niagra Falls over the Pike WB wall. With closer you get to the easterly/BU Bridge project limits the higher the risk soars.

'Throat' resides in the legit toughest stretch of river for flood protection. It isn't for lack of imagination. That bend+pinch in the basin is a physically/hydrologically maximal-difficulty inflection point not found to any halfway comparable degree anywhere upstream or down. Chalk it up to rotten luck that the max-difficulty waterproofing point matches up almost 1:1 with the 'throat' project area.
 

Highwayguy

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
22
It'll be "OK" in the sense that you can continue fussing around with the nonsensical street grid and inverted, alienating transit placement till the cows come home...since solving the 'throat' allows construction to proceed on the viaduct replacement before the existing structure needs end-of-life patch repairs. And you can do significant parts of the other Pike-specific realignment tasks while still arguing about getting a second spanning street from BU and other details, because it's not the end of the world if median space is reserved for a bridge abutment that may or may not come later.

It's most definitely not "OK" in the sense that the chunky street grid makes zero sense for any density development and does nothing to encourage making a walkable neighborhood out of Lower Allston, that Harvard seems to be completely disengaged and overtly engaging in a 30-year land-parking job before touching this slab, that the train station and train yard are positioned ass backwards for maximum isolation to where the only extant passengers originate from, that the train yard is woefully inadequate-size for T needs if Widett Circle is no longer available while Harvard's only current involvement seems to be putting pressure on a zero-out, and that the transit service plans (presently over-focused on a Grand Junction Urban Rail dinky they can't prove with any evidence can actually net useful frequencies, rather than so much as any loose talk of Urban Ring) are incoherent.

All ^that^ stuff is pure dumpster fire, with disengaged planning that raises the "Alewife terror alert" way too high for my liking. But all that dumpster-firefighting is fungible while the most critical thrust of the Pike project gets underway, so not only aren't we out of time but on some discrete aspects related to dev & neighborhood transpo the clock hasn't even begun ticking.
Agreed, except the clock is definitely ticking. The second the first car drives on that section of the Pike, it becomes 20 times more difficult and expensive to deck over that moat. Not to mention the major headache to pike commuters. Any future decking job would make the Comm Ave replacement project look like small potatoes, and that project didn’t even have to worry about building the median abutments.

That's why l think it is imperative this gets done right the first time. Even just placing the girders over the pike to support whatever park/ structure to come later would be good enough.
 

Highwayguy

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
22
The difference is that by the Hatch the roadway is 200 ft. from the Lagoon, and 400 ft. from the open basin. Storrow never floods there; the Lagoon causeway absorbs any/all of it before it gets within 200 ft. And that's not a 'good' tunnel by any stretch, either. Its cheap construction methods are a perpetual maint headache for concrete spalling due to groundwater dampness...but at least is 100% inoculated from flowing water. I don't think there's ever been an inundating event in the 80+ year history of the current parks + road layout of the Lagoon area.

BU Boathouse and Magazine Beach diagonal from each other are the most flood-prone parts of the lower basin, influenced by the bend in the river (and which side the wind is blowing through the bend) meeting moderate pinch point in the basin's width. There's simply no way you can inoculate against a 20-year overtopping event there with only the 25-50 ft. of berm to play with + 2-5 ft. riverbank elevation the whole length of the 'throat'. And that's just for the benign soaker events where SFR/Storrow are legitimately closed to traffic for several hours to day or two couple times per decade. Nevermind the 50- and 100-year flood events greater than "Flood of '96"-level that are the pants-shitting scary reality we now have to plan all infrastructure around. Even flipping the Pike side for a cut is going to be a monstrous budget bloater for required drainage above-and-beyonds because any buffer width + width of surface SFR pavement you'd be talking is still not nearly enough to stop an overtop of the low shoreline from sending a linear Niagra Falls over the Pike WB wall. With closer you get to the easterly/BU Bridge project limits the higher the risk soars.

'Throat' resides in the legit toughest stretch of river for flood protection. It isn't for lack of imagination. That bend+pinch in the basin is a physically/hydrologically maximal-difficulty inflection point not found to any halfway comparable degree anywhere upstream or down. Chalk it up to rotten luck that the max-difficulty waterproofing point matches up almost 1:1 with the 'throat' project area.
Fun fact that Storrow "tunnel" is classified as a bridge and has the lowest rating in the State due to the issues you mentioned, not to mention DCR (deferred) maintenance. And as you said better, while technically feasible with unlimited $$$, that waterproofing would be a Texas sized PITA.
 

cden4

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2007
Messages
1,131
Reaction score
58
MassDOT managed to put in everything that everyone asked for but in a way that sucks for everyone. It's pretty impressive actually. For example, why does a BRAND NEW STREET NETWORK that doesn't exist today consist of all 4-5 lane streets?! Isn't the point of a grid that each street can be smaller since the traffic is distributed? Why are all the on and off ramps two lanes wide? The eastbound off-ramp widens to 4 lanes! The train station is going to be miserable to walk to and very loud once you're at it. This is what happens when you let highway engineers design a neighborhood. UGH.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,404
Reaction score
1,273
MassDOT managed to put in everything that everyone asked for but in a way that sucks for everyone. It's pretty impressive actually. For example, why does a BRAND NEW STREET NETWORK that doesn't exist today consist of all 4-5 lane streets?! Isn't the point of a grid that each street can be smaller since the traffic is distributed? Why are all the on and off ramps two lanes wide? The eastbound off-ramp widens to 4 lanes! The train station is going to be miserable to walk to and very loud once you're at it. This is what happens when you let highway engineers design a neighborhood. UGH.
Let's please not forget Harvard's complicity in all this. They're the ones who decided right after pocketing the slab that they were content to land-park it until we're all dead. The grid and transit access suck in large part because there is zero, nada dev planning going on anymore by the new owners we gifted this slab to informing what the hell is eventually going to be connected over it. Nothing's going to work right if that has to be somebody else's total blind guesstimate.

Beacon Park is a MULTI-party failure in-progress. Yes...MassDOT's using nothing except asphalt lizard-brain to design that grid. That's also eminently predictable. But they were never supposed to be the only ones responsible for designing that grid in the first place, so the leadership vacuum over the slab isn't entirely their creation. Where the fuck is Harvard? Where the fuck is City Hall not calling out Harvard for punking them on the land-park pivot, or making any stand for Lower Allston being something better than a forever-carpocalypse? Where the fuck is BU not advocating for its side of civilization by making any stand for a halfway functional street grid (c'mon...not even a Babcock spanning???) or a transit station positioned accessibly to any of their campus instead of this alienating inverted BS? Why is everyone laying down on the job here like it's a preordained kabuki dance where they're just playing a role in a naked wealth transfer?!?


A lot of asses need to be kicked if this thing is ever going to turn out right. But make sure you've got them all numbered, buttock-by-buttock. Pulling this thing out of neutral from its coming slow-speed crash is going to take a lot of enforced accountability to a lot of different parties. We don't get the simplistic satisfaction here of picking just one designated villain and running with it.
 
Last edited:

stefal

Active Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2015
Messages
940
Reaction score
514
I like my plan better, but of course it includes closing Storrow Drive:
This is a lot better, but how do you account for elevation change? Those bridges going over I-90 have to meet up with the grid pretty quick, and that might make for an awkward development/dead street presence for whatever building goes in there. That being said, the pedestrian experience is about 10x better than the overlapping bridges and differing levels that MassDOT currently has planned.
 

Tallguy

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
149
Reaction score
29
I think that Chicago offers us a solution. Tracks and highway at ground level with complete deck over and continue with a gradual slope down to Cambridge St. You create an artificial "ground level". Recall the chase scenes from Blues Brothers. But of course, it will look wacky until developed. But that is how they did Back Bay.
 

Top