A diverse group of residents, commuters, transportation advocates, business owners, and elected officials packed a standing-room only Jackson Mann Community Center last night for the first MassDOT public meeting of the Mass Pike Interchange Improvement Project.
The $260 million project proposes to straighten the Mass Pike between Harvard Ave in Allston and BU's Nickerson Field, remove aging concrete support structures, and allow development on a significant portion of the of 91 acres that Harvard University purchased from the Mass Turnpike Authority in 2003 for $75 million.
State Senator Will Brownsberger and State Representative Kevin Honan urged MassDOT to broaden the scope of the project to include creating new connections between North and South Allston, consider the future land uses on the site, and make dramatic improvements in the infrastructure for cycling and walking.
Brighton resident David Maerz and Cambridge resident Ari Ofsevit suggested that this project should result in more than a straighter highway - instead they recommended changes to nearby Soldiers Field Road, expansion of the Charles River Parklands, and a fundamental rethinking of how people in all modes travel through the area. Maerz, who informally presented his alternative design for the project before the meeting, remarked that he received a variety of positive feedback on his proposals to re-route Soldiers Field Road.
Others questioned how the "new Pike" would make it easier for people travelling eastbound towards Soldiers Field Road and Cambridge and how the addition of Pike exits further east might impact the Pike in Allston. The importance of collaborative planning with DCR, Harvard University, Boston University, Boston Transportation Department, MBTA, and Boston Redevelopment Authority was also noted.
Representatives from the LivableStreets Alliance, MassBike, Boston Cyclists Union, WalkBoston, and Friends of the Grand Junction Path joined dozens of Allston residents who proposed that this project should be strongly influenced by urban planning considerations instead of having highway and bridge engineering dominate the agenda. David Watson of MassBike was applauded for suggesting that the project should be renamed and not be referred to as an "Interchange Improvement Project". As an alternative, the term "People's Pike" was used my many to promote a vision where quality of life for residents, economic vitality, and green transportation would be a primary focus.
Comments about the project can be sent to [email protected] by April 24 and addressed to:
Patricia Leavenworth, P.E., Chief Engineer, MassDOT
10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116
ATTN: Bridge Project Management, Project File No. 606475
For more information about this project visit