I-90 Interchange Improvement Project & West Station | Allston

Equilibria

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No real news from the meeting today - MassDOT is advancing the three alternatives we know about to Federal review, with the implied hope that they can "evolve" the all-at-grade alternative to be preferred as they go (no one really wants the viaduct alternative or the hybrid). Explicit threat to rehab the viaduct and Cambridge Street bridge and walk away if they can't reach consensus.
 

jklo

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No real news from the meeting today - MassDOT is advancing the three alternatives we know about to Federal review, with the implied hope that they can "evolve" the all-at-grade alternative to be preferred as they go (no one really wants the viaduct alternative or the hybrid). Explicit threat to rehab the viaduct and Cambridge Street bridge and walk away if they can't reach consensus.
How is all at grade possible without filling in the river? Maybe I need to read the documents again.
 

Equilibria

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How is all at grade possible without filling in the river? Maybe I need to read the documents again.
It isn't. The presented options were putting PDW on a boardwalk or filling in about 10-15 feet. I think the "evolution" referred to possibilities for narrowing/omitting lanes, but they didn't say that out loud.
 

millerm277

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It isn't. The presented options were putting PDW on a boardwalk or filling in about 10-15 feet. I think the "evolution" referred to possibilities for narrowing/omitting lanes, but they didn't say that out loud.
Based on the diagram presented, even chopping off a lane each direction doesn't look like it would get you off the river/riverbank unless you start hacking at the Pike shoulders as well or drop some of the roads to 10ft lanes.

And that's still probably only getting you the 12ft wide combined bike/ped path they show (unlike the nice separate bike + ped paths from the other proposals) unless you take off 2 lanes of the Pike, all the shoulders and probably drop some or all of the roads to 10ft lanes.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Harvard seems to be pushing for the at-grade option with narrower lanes/shoulders now. Momentum?
No. Harvard doesn't have any land bordering the 'throat', nor does any "business-backed coalition" except for still-silent BU. They've also lost all credibility as an absentee landlord by this point from the MassDOT projects they do border at BP, such as the train station and that horrific chunky street grid. This is something the institutional ballwashing Globe is going to treat as more significant than it actually is in the real world.

If endowment $$$ was going to talk, it would've/could've done so eons ago.
 

lexicon506

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No. Harvard doesn't have any land bordering the 'throat', nor does any "business-backed coalition" except for still-silent BU. They've also lost all credibility as an absentee landlord by this point from the MassDOT projects they do border at BP, such as the train station and that horrific chunky street grid. This is something the institutional ballwashing Globe is going to treat as more significant than it actually is in the real world.

If endowment $$$ was going to talk, it would've/could've done so eons ago.
Whether or not Harvard "should" weigh in on this particular issue is irrelevant. When Harvard talks, the state listens. Let's not forget the city of Boston also favors this plan: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/08...-highway-project/?p1=Article_Inline_Text_Link
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Whether or not Harvard "should" weigh in on this particular issue is irrelevant. When Harvard talks, the state listens. Let's not forget the city of Boston also favors this plan: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/08...-highway-project/?p1=Article_Inline_Text_Link
That's true...to a degree. Just want to caution that the Globe in particular is a chronic case when it comes to overstating degrees.

The biggest diminishing factor for Harvard is that, while the state listens when they talk, Harvard has passed up every opportunity to talk thus far. So the would-be effects are way, way, way in the diminishing returns coming up only now...and coming up this extremely tardy on the one pan-Beacon Park cog where they don't have an abutting land claim. Way too little, way too late. I mean...being a non-presence at all these meetings thus far means they're probably not read-in up to speed in nearly enough detail to begin with to position themselves as an effective presence. So it's therefore limited what they ever could substantively advise for the ongoing discussion which is literally paralyzing itself over-scrutinizing nuts and bolts. The things they're stalemated on are not the kinds of things some nebulous "presence" in the background is going to unstick. The task at hand requires diving ever further into the weeds to hash out a physical design compromise. 11th-hour 59th minute first appearance of some far-removed heavies with money who can be rightly bagged-on for NOT paying enough attention to-date isn't the stuff of "Eureka" moments.


Put it this way: if the actual task force members scrutinizing nuts-and-bolts can point to a potential Harvard substantive contribution at this scruitinizing nuts-and-bolts project stage...that's one thing. But the Globe isn't going to give us any tells there, because they're just playing their born role bootlicking at Big U power. Let's hear from people on-the-ground on these negotiations before pegging this any game-changer.
 

stellarfun

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Harvard owns most of the 'throat'. All the way east to about 855-859 Commonwealth., which is BU's College of Fine Arts, the first building west (on the north side) of the BU bridge on Comm Ave.

The relevant parcel IDs are Parcel ID: 2100396010 and Parcel ID: 2200105000 on the assessor's maps.
 

shmessy

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Harvard seems to be very involved and has proposed giving $58 million towards this. BU?????? Like Trump handling a pandemic. Yes, Harvard has more at stake, but BU would definitely benefit from this . No good reason why they have been silent. Would it be so terrible if BU and Harvard put all their great engneering brains and money together to come up with something REAL LIFE instead of theoretical (as NU did with the footbridge at Ruggles)? Hell, make it a hands on student project. Seriously, wtf is the PURPOSE of these schools? They should be doing midnight engineering hacks.
 
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millerm277

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Harvard seems to be very involved and has proposed giving $58 million towards this. BU?????? Like Trump handling a pandemic. Yes, Harvard has more at stake, but BU would definitely benefit from this . No good reason why they have been silent. Would it be so terrible if BU and Harvard put all their great engneering brains and money together to come up with something REAL LIFE instead of theoretical (as NU did with the footbridge at Ruggles)? Hell, make it a hands on student project. Seriously, wtf is the PURPOSE of these schools? They should be doing midnight engineering hacks.
IMO their internal views about these things and what gets filtered out through PR people are different things. I'm not going to claim to have any inside sources or be doing more than talking out of my ass, but:

- I have never gotten any impression from BU that it wants more connection with Lower Allston or more non-BU people in general having a reason to linger in/go through their campus, especially anywhere that isn't on Comm Ave. If bad optics weren't a factor and you gave BU control over the project, I doubt there would be any connections over the Pike at all.

- The only reason I think Harvard is deciding to make a noise at all at this point is because "no-build"/rehab of what's there is being thrown around as a threat if an agreement can't be reached, and no-build is a threat to their land value/distant plans. I don't think Harvard cares in the least which one of the alternatives is chosen, how long the build process is, or much else about it, as long as it gets the Pike on the alignment that's been proposed and out of the middle of their giant plot of developable land.
 

jass

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Harvard has passed up every opportunity to talk thus far. So the would-be effects are way, way, way in the diminishing returns coming up only now
Thats not how stuff like this works.

I think it was Duke (might have been UNC?), where a brand new light rail line was fully funded and ready to be built. And then at the last second they said "actually, no". Guess what happened? It wasnt built. Same happened with U Maryland with their own light rail project (Purple Line). They stayed pretty damm quiet until the last minute when they chimed in with a "well actually" causing something like a 4 year delay.

I dont think F-line appreciates how politics work. These entities don't bother to involve themselves in the entire process because they know they have the power at every stage of the game. lexicon506 is right, when Harvard talks, the state listens.

- I have never gotten any impression from BU that it wants more connection with Lower Allston or more non-BU people in general having a reason to linger in/go through their campus, especially anywhere that isn't on Comm Ave. If bad optics weren't a factor and you gave BU control over the project, I doubt there would be any connections over the Pike at all.
I agree. I get the impression that if it was up to the current administration, theyd build a fence around campus like BC.
 

KCasiglio

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- The only reason I think Harvard is deciding to make a noise at all at this point is because "no-build"/rehab of what's there is being thrown around as a threat if an agreement can't be reached, and no-build is a threat to their land value/distant plans. I don't think Harvard cares in the least which one of the alternatives is chosen, how long the build process is, or much else about it, as long as it gets the Pike on the alignment that's been proposed and out of the middle of their giant plot of developable land.
This seems totally correct, but thats fine. We should want people understanding the sense of urgency and if Harvard can bring any influence or pressure to bear getting this done thats great. No build is a real threat and we're all losers in that scenario even if harvard is most of all. All the better if its the narrow lane/at grade option.
 

stellarfun

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In this image from the Globe, Harvard owns under the Pike eastward to about the blue mural fence in the photo, but does not own SFR.
 

shmessy

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In this image from the Globe, Harvard owns under the Pike eastward to about the blue mural fence in the photo, but does not own SFR.
And BU owns the land to the left of the Pike in that picture......whose students/faculty/administrators would have new access access to the River and the proposed bicycle boardwalk if the Pike is depressed with multiple foot/bike bridges? BU quality of life and foot/bike commuting improve greatly if they could extend "BU Beach" up there and gain easy access to a boardwalk over the river. BU stands to gain greatly from this project. I'm not sure what Harvard gains from the depression of the Throat (basically grounding the Pike on their land). If I'm not mistaken, Harvard's benefit derives from straightening out the area further west. I can't see any benefit to Harvard in depressing the Throat. I may very well be wrong, and if so, someone please point it to me. BU doesn't seem to fit the part of a disinterested party here.
 
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jklo

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And BU owns the land to the left of the Pike in that picture......whose students/faculty/administrators would have new access access to the River and the proposed bicycle boardwalk if the Pike is depressed with multiple foot/bike bridges? BU quality of life and foot/bike commuting improve greatly if they could extend "BU Beach" up there and gain easy access to a boardwalk over the river. BU stands to gain greatly from this project. I'm not sure what Harvard gains from the depression of the Throat (basically grounding the Pike on their land). If I'm not mistaken, Harvard's benefit derives from straightening out the area further west. I can't see any benefit to Harvard in depressing the Throat. I may very well be wrong, and if so, someone please point it to me. BU doesn't seem to fit the part of a disinterested party here.
Harvard thinks without consensus on the throat nothing will happen?
 

shmessy

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Harvard thinks without consensus on the throat nothing will happen?
Hey, it's a public project in Boston. I can't speak for Hahvahd, but the staring contest sure as heck looks logjammed for a long time so far. I'm just surprised BU has been so seemingly absent. Improved river access could be a real boon to them.
 

JeffDowntown

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It would seem that BU should be a more active stakeholder in the throat design discussion, since they are the major abuter.

Maybe they have lived with the highways, viaduct and rail lines for so long that they have just turned their back on this part of the river.
 

jklo

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It would seem that BU should be a more active stakeholder in the throat design discussion, since they are the major abuter.

Maybe they have lived with the highways, viaduct and rail lines for so long that they have just turned their back on this part of the river.
Maybe they just don't care. From the map it looks like the BU area near the throat is just athletic fields and Agganis Arena. Past the throat is where most of the action is, and ped access across looks better.
 

Rover

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I think realistically BU's stake is less than it appears with the exception of the configuration of West Station. Consider the following:

1) BU owns no land beyond West campus so there's no other part of campus to link up to. Sure they can connect to the new neighborhood Harvard is building but that's a minor consideration.

2) BU will remain separated from the river under all current proposals. Only decking over everything would change that and that's not happening now or maybe not ever.

3) the only interested the school has is West Station. That has to be decked over the tracks and the Pike or nobody can get to it. In that case BU's interest should be to push for pedestrian connections only by the tennis and lacrosse facilities given the lack of room and narrow streets on that part of campus while making the vehicle connection closer to agganis way and build St near the hockey arena.

I do agree that BU is too passive when it comes to dealing with the state on roadway configurations but perhaps they're having these discussions in private.
 

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