Architects propose Allston Esplanade along new Pike

Renderings of an Allston Esplanade and new development at Beacon Yards

Renderings from the Boston Society of Architects Beacon Yards Urban Design Workshop

Last week, two teams organized by the Boston Society of Architects proposed that the $260M reconstruction of the Mass Pike in Allston should include a great new public place and civic amenity along the Charles River.

Monday is the deadline to send comments on this project to [email protected]

Images from the BSA presentations and a sample comment letter to MassDOT are online at

More info at and



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This is great but

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As someone who lives right near Northpoint & Paul Revere parks (with 93/leverett connector running between them) I can attest to the fact that the noise from an interstate highway this close to a park is deafening and really does significantly detract from their enjoyment. Yes a park is better than no park, but something to consider/ i wish they would consider noise mitigation measures in these situations.


Northpoint park is a great little park. I mean it's in the middle of a transportation nexus, but that's what makes it so interesting. If you're looking for bucolic you're living in the wrong part of town.

Sound barriers

There is no reason why they can't line both roads with sound barriers similar to those along I93 to lessen the sound.

walk to Paul revere park

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walk to Paul revere park around 6pm and you will hear what I am talking about.

Great changes coming

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In addition to this, Mass Eye and Ear has apparently agreed to swap some land and reconfigure that area of the Esplanade and Storrow - they get some new and much needed parking and we get more park - win/win.

I like this idea. Will

I like this idea. Will anything be done to better connect this area with the rest of Allston/Brighton via public transit? It's not a particularly well served stretch now, though maybe it has changed-- been years since I lived near there.

was just thinkin that

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I was just thinking that.. will they fix the transit in the area, or has a "West Station" turned into a pipe dream now?

Cambridge St

Cambridge Street is getting revamped at some point, so at least it will be walkable. You're right though, that area is a pain to get to as is. It would be nice if the 64 bus ran a little more frequently, getting to Central Square from Allston shouldn't be so difficult.

West Station is being included

I was at the public meeting at Jackson Mann last week, and MassDOT assured everyone that regardless of which plan they chose, West Station would be included, it just doesn't have any funding currently.

West Station is "design only" right now

MassDOT is currently designing West Station, and has made no commitment to actually construct it. Also, the current design has only one track for the Grand Junction Line, which would mean ~30 minute service to Kendall Sq & North Station. If two tracks were built then we could have ~10 minute service. Access to West Station from both the north (Cambridge St) and south (Comm Ave) also has a lot of room for improvement.

I like the bottom left image

I like the bottom left image on the website, where they show a proposal for a mixed use path and bike way down the c enter, and for comparison use a picture of the Comm Ave mall which allows no use of bikes down the middle and instead you have to cycle on the left side of comm ave over sewer drains and potholes

That picture doesn't look

That picture doesn't look much like a mixed use path to me... the key indicates that bikes get the protected path in the middle of the promenade/park, while pedestrians get sidewalks on the streetside. This is less like the Comm Ave mall and more like the Southwest Corridor Park between the Stony Brook T and Ruggles. That stretch of park should be illuminating, as pedestrians are technically prohibited from using the protected path, but many do, leading to constant friction between cyclists and pedestrians.

Some key questions

Say you work here - how do you get here?

Say you live here - where do you go for groceries, how do you get to work, etc. How far to walk to mass transit lines? How far to walk to shopping areas, coffee shops, etc.?

For this to be a complete community, it needs to either connect well with the rest of the community, or it needs to be complete in and of itself. That means transit, services, etc. The "office park" model does poorly in an urban setting - look at the emerging problems in the Seaport for an example of what isn't working.

Shaws/Super 88 and the B Line

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Shaws/Super 88 and the B Line, I suppose. It seems a shorter walk to a grocery store/transit than many parts of Allston and Brighton. I don't know that sticking more people on the B Line will work out wonderfully, but assuming that pedestrian bridge across the New Pike actually shows up it's only a few blocks, at least from the southern end of the development. The northern end has a bit more of a trek, but not out of line with the rest of Lower Allston, and people seem to get by okay there.

the designs express a strong

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the designs express a strong desire to connect to Allston on the other side of the pike, but even if that doesn't occur, the Whole Foods in Cambridge is right over the river. Once the pike isn't polluting that area, it presumably will be a much nicer walk.

Need More Access

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You know what the design needs. A pair of pedestrian bridges that crosses the [moved] turnpike and tracks. There should be one at Malvern and another at Babcock. Then you would just be a short walk away from Commonwealth Ave and additional stores.

Of course, such would be no use if they are not heavily lit, cleaned, and patrolled. Otherwise they would be deathtraps like the one across the turnpike now.

But as far as these land use plans being put forth. It was my understanding that Harvard, owning said land involved, already has plans for more campus expansion to the parcels. Thus there will be no public access, private housing, or parks you can get into. Has something changed?

My former neighborhood

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Transit is a big consideration. Right now there is a bus or two and that's it. It's not far from Central Sq and Comm Ave, but you need some way of easily getting to them. Maybe extend Babcock Street (by BU West) so that it connects to the new neighborhood? That would also bring the Packards Corner Star Market into walking distance.

West Station

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If West Station (terrible name, btw) is built as in some of the proposals and has access to both sides of the pike, then it will act as a de facto pedestrian bridge there. It'd be nicer to have a real street running over the Pike though...

West Station

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If built correctly, it would act as a transport hub in a similar fashion to NS and SS - and thus West Station would be the perfect name for it. Unless of course someone wanted to name it "Barry's Corner Station" - I'm 100% down with that if just to annoy people. But yeah to your point, BU owns the buildings on the south side of the new interchange, and it's hard to see where a full car and pedestrian street could be built that wouldn't adversely effect those properties.

BU owns the end of Babcock

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BU owns the end of Babcock Street, so it might have to be one of the others, but I think your point stands pretty tall here. Having lived in Lower Allston and worked at BU, connections between the two further east would have been awesome.

Both options presented definitely feel superior to the MassDOT version...whatever happens, I really hope they seize this opportunity for all (or as much as possible) of what it's worth!

Where do the cars go?

I like what I've seen in skimming these proposals - certainly adding a multi-modal hub while extending parkland along the Charles is a great idea. But where do the cars go? The ramps that these proposals remove are the main route connecting Cambridge and Allston to the Mass Pike, and none of the designs include ramps that would seem capable of moving the same volume of cars on and off the Pike. Did I miss something?

The ramps feed into new

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The ramps feed into new streets directly parallel to the Pike (similar to the on and off ramps along I-93 in the South End. These streets would connect to a new street grid. It's a much more compact solution for the ramps than the current rat's nest of swooping, land gobbling ramps that are currently there, but also allows for traffic to distribute via multiple routes rather than just one or two access points as is the case today.

Short exit ramps

Both proposals show ramps going to the cross roads. I would assume there are lights at the cross roads. It will be much slower getting from the pike to Cambridge, although hopefully safer. I am not sure the proposaled ramps have enough run out to handle backups.

On a bad day, the ramps can

On a bad day, the ramps can already back up to the travel lanes. With the new, short ramps coming out to traffic lights, I envision something more like the Storrow ramp to Cambridge Street. Yikes.

Flooding from storm surges?

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There shouldn't be any flooding from storm surges at this location because there's a dam and lock on the Charles river at the Museum of Science.

If you're imagining a storm surge traveling over the bulk of downtown and Back Bay, then I think that's a much bigger issue and a little off-topic.

Our Real Agenda is to eliminate motor vehicles.

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Let's all be honest--We hate these cars getting in the way of our bike rides. Let's oppose any off ramp in our neighborhood. A nice ramp over the Charles River into Cambridge would be best and we wouldn't have to deal with the traffic. This whole area could be used as parkland and we could regenerate the area for all the geese, turkey's and deer--I prefer a Wildlife Sanctuary.

PS-If you have anything free to eat Harry Mattison will show up.

That has always baffled me,

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That has always baffled me, why do we have a free freeway (Storrow) next to a toll highway, it would make more sense to have storrow highway end here and merge the cars onto 90, or make Storrow like Comm Ave so it has 4 way intersections with local roads instead of ramps and pedestrians could cross using crosswalks to get to the parklands instead of (very occasional) pedestrian bridges.

At the most simplistic level,

At the most simplistic level, the Pike is good at channeling people from outside 128 into the city, and Storrow is good for moving people around inside the 128 loop.

Valuable land

Privately owned, too.

If you want to hold a megamillion fund raiser for the state to buy the land to pump more cars into those tiny capillaries known as "cities built before cars", feel free. Just don't even dream of raising that money via a gas tax - drivers wouldn't stand for that!

neither plan gets rid of any

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neither plan gets rid of any off ramps. I have to conclude that people on universal hub are very deficient at reading architectural renderings.