Rutherford Avenue to go on a diet!

F-Line to Dudley

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I remember in the late 1950's and through the 1960's, waiting on the old Sullivan Station inbound platform, and the elevated roadway zooming by just on the other side of the inbound el tracks. At the end of WW II, that elevated highway, the tunnel, and the gigantic rotary all leveled the once dense area into an edge-city wasteland, and, as you say, the elevated highway blighted what little was left. I was hoping they could finally do away with the remaining roadway mess and restore the former grid, but the Casino allegedly requires the tunnel to be preserved. Stupidly bowing down to the automobile, again.
The Overpass came down at *precisely* the right time...just as 93N through the Big Dig had freshly opened for business and the surface Artery was reduced for that last transitional year to southbound-only with bunch of permanently shuttered ramps. Volumes on Rutherford through Sullivan took a big--and permanent--dip just as MassHighway and the neighborhood were at the cusp of hashing out what would happen to the condemned structure after it was closed to traffic. That made the decision to tear it down and replace with nothing fast-and-academic, with no second-guessing. Spared the neighborhood the years-long protracted debate that ended up happening elsewhere like with Casey Overpass at Forest Hills. As an East Somerville resident at the time I was gearing up like I was going to be attending lots and lots more contentious meetings...figuring there was a multi-front war afoot with the state between the overpass/Rutherford dieting, McGrath teardown & dieting (since that was the other big recipient of permanent post- Big Dig traffic reductions), GLX advocacy, the fate/future of Assembly Square, and fishing Sullivan-proper out of the gutter that were all going to be dividing people's attention around one complex city line. I moved to Cambridge within a year...but was genuinely flabbergasted in my last months there when the physical overpass came down it was virtually never spoken of again with so little pushback. Certainly compared to all the other efforts, which were exactly as contentious as advertised...including McGrath to this day still malingering as a non-final decision.

Then again, that horrible structure almost made McGrath's pigeon-shit plaza over Washington look inviting by comparison...so maybe the Sully O. was simply that universally loathed by citizen & state alike. It basically taunted all comers into the square with a chant of "Blight blight blight blight blight!" And, remember, the thing was so shoddily constructed during peak wartime steel rationing to begin with that it collapsed and pancaked on the square...in 19-fucking-52 when it was only a decade old!

I certainly don't have any major quarrel with the underpass. Other than reconnecting Main-to-Main up top (a gash caused by the overpass placement, not the underpass) as the renders recommend, there's not enough geometrically changing here to make a toothy case for altering it. I mean, the area by Ryan Playground where the roadway is at its bowlegged-widest was historically an industrial loading dock and road salt pile further back in the 100-yr. pic behind that little tennis court; there was never any neighborhood there unlike the areas to the west/south/southeast that got nuked. And you're never *precisely* going to get all of that back. Besides, the removal of the overpass makes it easier to park-deck over the underpass between the little residual rump of overpass that's left and Maffa Way, so if you can traffic-calm the surface Rutherford frontages keep all 4 lanes of the dang thing's footprint and just plant over it straight to Maffa Way and that little residue of El-overpass platform that's right next to Maffa.
 

real_EthanHunt

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I was hoping they could finally do away with the remaining roadway mess and restore the former grid, but the Casino allegedly requires the tunnel to be preserved.
the grid system is coming back. without the tunnel there were far too many lanes on the surface which would have made it non pedestrian friendly.

the underpass is being preserved, but becoming much shorter in length. the state decided that 99 was a commuter route and didnt want to shut off that route to the communities to the northeast. the casino had little to do with that decision, other than it was pre opening and there was misguided fear that it was going to cause a huge issue--which was proven to not be true even pre-Covid.
 

Vagabond

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"The City’s Transportation Department (BTD) hit a major milestone with the generational reconfiguration project of Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square this month in filing 25 percent design documents – a design that now does not favor a center-lane Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) program on Rutherford.
...
Conroy said they expect to have the 75 percent milestone in June 2021, and 100 percent design in November 2021. A public bid on the project is optimistically expected for January 2022 or late spring. Construction would likely start in late summer 2022, and the $151 million project would conclude likely in 2027."


Tried to find the docs, and there definitely was a resubmittal on 10/5, but none are linked on the website. Anybody know where to find the updated 25% plan?
 

cden4

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Very disappointing. The City is really losing credibility with their plowing ahead of Rutherford Ave and Melnea Cass Blvd with designs that are VERY unpopular with the community. These were both designed by veteran BTD engineers who have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century where car capacity isn't the number one goal. I feel like the City has spent so much money on the designs already that they're just trying to cut their losses at this point. That's not a good reason to proceed, especially for hundreds of millions of dollars and roadways that people will have to live with for the next 50+ years.
 

Charlie_mta

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I assume the underpass at Gilmore Bridge will also be kept? So what we will have is basically the same superhighway we now have from Everett to City Square, dressed up a bit with some landscaping. Nice.
 

real_EthanHunt

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Very disappointing. The City is really losing credibility with their plowing ahead of Rutherford Ave and Melnea Cass Blvd with designs that are VERY unpopular with the community.
For Sullivan, the community has never agreed on a concept. it has always been divided between people that want vehicle capacity at all costs (keep the 4 lane underpass, add lanes on the surface) and those that want complete streets and make the area part of the neighborhood. This has been going on for over 20 years.
There could never be a design that wouldnt be very unpopular with one of these groups.
FACT, the cities plan was to remove the underpasses. They went to the community and told them so and the meeting did not go well for the group that wanted vehicle capacity.
The State then came back and said that Rt 99 was a commuter corridor and they would not support the tunnel removal. At that point, the hybrid plan was created that narrows and shortens the tunnels so that new connections can be made across Rutherford while still maintaining the commuter corridor that is required.
As the article says, the MBTA doesnt want BRT on Rutherford. Currently there arent any buses that travel down Rutherford, and the T doesnt have any plans to use Rutherford for buses. Why would the City add pavement and roadway cross section for bus lanes that wouldnt serve buses? I'll take the narrower road and more open space.

as for Melnea Cass, the cities original plan was for BRT. This was years and years ago, long before BRT was the in vogue commodity it is today. There was then, and continues to be, push back about the impact on trees. The residents in the area are the ones that have demanded the capacity be maintained.
 

cden4

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Of course they're never going to make everyone happy. But they made a decision that had broad support and then backed out of it. They have never justified why traffic requires underpasses. They've shown all kinds of scary traffic projections about the casino and new development, but even those numbers do not require underpasses. Furthermore, this project has been going on for so long that the casino traffic they projected never transpired (pre-COVID.) It's all smoke and mirrors. Someone decided that the underpasses must stay and now they're trying to justify it however they can. It's ridiculous.

The issue with Melnea Cass is that the city keeps saying they have to lose more and more trees than they originally said. The design they've created unnecessarily conflicts with the mature trees by relocating the roadway. If they simply left the roadway where it is, they could make improvements that would preserve the vast majority of the mature trees.
 

BostonUrbEx

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Can we put some buffered bike lanes from Sullivan to the Gilmore Bridge already? The lane markings are wearing away, need some fresh paint anyway. The only option from anyone coming down from the Alford St Bridge right now is Main St in Charlestown (unless you take some out of the way diversion through Somerville). And Main St only has an inbound door-zone bike lane and an outbound bike lane that was scraped off the pavement because of neighborhood "concerns." Totally bogus that the Northern Strand could be bringing people towards Kendal and downtown Boston, but instead the only decent infra is off towards Somerville on Washington St.

Rutherford Ave. It's free real estate. :cool:
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Wait what happened?
Wasn't that old news from a couple years ago? It came for a nanosecond then was scraped after the NIMBY's carpet-bombed neighborhood meetings.

This being decidely pre-COVID and before the change in decades you might as well have been talking the Stone Ages re: neighborhood attitudes towards that kind of thing. It's inconceivable there'd be any similar revolt if they tried again today. It's more that this is a neighborhood that already got its shot, and ruined it with a farcial shitshow so are nobody's idea right this second for high-priority second chances.
 

BostonUrbEx

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Yes, as F-Line said, happened quite a while back. You can easily tell where the markings were removed though.
 

cden4

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Yeah that bike lane which didn't result in the removal of any parking whatsoever annoyed the neighbors because they weren't properly "consulted" before its installation. :rolleyes:
 

sm89

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Yeah that bike lane which didn't result in the removal of any parking whatsoever annoyed the neighbors because they weren't properly "consulted" before its installation. :rolleyes:
Where did the "neighborhood opposition" rumor come from? The roadway ended up being too narrow for the cross section that was to be installed (drafting error I think?), so they went back and made it a bike lane in one direction and a shared lane in the other. Care was taken to figure out what parts should have a bike lane (queue jump, curbside uses, etc). That's why it sort of switches back and forth. Just look at this section from a few years back, where they put the 10ft lanes in, but were like uh-oh we can't fit the rest. They never finished installing it and had to go back to the drawing board. https://goo.gl/maps/Lf7PNzqY5wEuiczGA
 

Vagabond

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Main Street's mess is still a remnant of when they took down the El in the late 70s. The overwide paved sidewalks, weird extended bricks, and misaligned tree placement, and lack of true retail frontages all remain. The whole road really needs a realignment...

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real_EthanHunt

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Where did the "neighborhood opposition" rumor come from? The roadway ended up being too narrow for the cross section that was to be installed (drafting error I think?), so they went back and made it a bike lane in one direction and a shared lane in the other. Care was taken to figure out what parts should have a bike lane (queue jump, curbside uses, etc). That's why it sort of switches back and forth. Just look at this section from a few years back, where they put the 10ft lanes in, but were like uh-oh we can't fit the rest. They never finished installing it and had to go back to the drawing board. https://goo.gl/maps/Lf7PNzqY5wEuiczGA
who wants to be jammed in 4' wide unprotected bike lane between travel and parking? take the lane, its much safer.
 

Scott

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Clearly the people of Charlestown are owed an apology
 

cden4

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Where did the "neighborhood opposition" rumor come from? The roadway ended up being too narrow for the cross section that was to be installed (drafting error I think?), so they went back and made it a bike lane in one direction and a shared lane in the other. Care was taken to figure out what parts should have a bike lane (queue jump, curbside uses, etc). That's why it sort of switches back and forth. Just look at this section from a few years back, where they put the 10ft lanes in, but were like uh-oh we can't fit the rest. They never finished installing it and had to go back to the drawing board. https://goo.gl/maps/Lf7PNzqY5wEuiczGA
That is not correct. The neighborhood was considering asking for MORE parking by creating angled parking, and painting the bike lane would have eliminated that possibility.

> “Some of our businesses on Main Street have been closing because people couldn’t park,” said Cunha. And the neighborhood council had been discussing ideas for angled parking along the street to increase those parking opportunities.

> Cunha relayed these concerns from his constituents to the city and a public, well-advertised meeting was called. According to Cunha and Charlestown Patch, only four or five members of the neighborhood council showed up. They asked that the city stop painting the bike lane in order to discuss some other options, at the time it was only half painted. According to Cunha, they did not ask directly for its removal. But after this meeting, the city decided that the correct thing to do, “out of respect,” and perhaps due to safety concerns about a half-painted lane, was to remove the bike lane so that a full and transparent public process could take place. And that may have been a good call.

 

C-Town_Jeff

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I am not going to claim I actually know the answer to if it was NIMBYS or an error in layout of the bike lanes that caused the removal, but I would like to point out that the Boson Cyclists Union article was from 2010 and they resurfaced Main Street in 2011 and shortly after added the bike lanes back. They then removed the bike lanes again in 2018.

Is it possible that you are both right? NIMBYS in 2010 and something else in 2018?
 

cden4

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Ooh I did not realize that they changed them in 2018. So yes it is very possible that we are both right!
 

Vagabond

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“Some of our businesses on Main Street have been closing because people couldn’t park,” said Cunha. And the neighborhood council had been discussing ideas for angled parking along the street to increase those parking opportunities.
Orrrr maybe it's that the neighborhood density isn't high enough... perhaps not blocking additional housing in Charlestown might help some of those businesses.

HINT: The Impact Advisory Group meeting is next week
Dec 09, 2020
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

EDIT: I suppose this is the wrong thread... but it's relevant to the topic of how the conversation of Rutherford development impacts will change the downtown district of Charlestown.
 

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