Support for better bus and rail transit dominated last night's meeting hosted by MassDOT on the Mass Pike Allston reconstruction project.
State Representative Michael Moran (Allston/Brighton) recalled the excitement of the 2014 West Station ribbon cutting, recalling the history of Allston and Brighton being overlooked by the commuter rail system. "There are winners and losers" in MassDOT's I-90 project, he noted. "Certainly Harvard, they get all the land underneath this that they get to develop" will be a winner, referencing the 91 acres under the existing highway interchange that Harvard purchased in 2003 from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority for $75 million. But without West Station in the first phase of construction, "I don't see much in this for us", Moran said. "It's now time for us to let MassDOT know how disappointed we are".
Moran was followed by dozens of people who spoke in support of West Station and improved bus service. The vision they expressed has much in common with the City of Boston's Imagine Boston 2030 plan and the State's 2014 plan for West Station. By building a new North Allston-Comm Ave bus route over the rebuilt Mass Pike and connecting it to West Station, regional transit would be greatly strengthened. Buses could run from Porter Sq and Harvard Sq through North Allston on dedicated bus lanes, stop at West Station, and continue down Comm Ave to Longwood.
Allston resident Galen Mook concluded the meeting with observations about the many ways this project needs to improve. Considering the trip on Cambridge Street from Pizzeria Regina to the Charles River by walking or biking, Mook said "You are going to cross a four lane intersection, another four lane intersection, another four lane intersection, then a five lane intersection, then a three lane intersection, then a five lane intersection, and then another five lane intersection. This is not the off-road multi-use pathway we've been talking about for three years."
Mook also questioned MassDOT estimate that only 250 people a day would use West Station. "If you modeled West Station connecting Harvard Sq to Longwood, West Station to Kendall Sq, maybe 250 people would use the first train each day." Without new bus and rail transit, Allston may not be able to handle the new development that could come to Allston if true transit oriented development is possible, he warned.
Comments on this project can be sent to:
Matthew Beaton, Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs
Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs
Attn: MEPA Office
Alex Strysky, EEA # 15278
100 Cambridge St Suite 900
Boston MA 02114