I-90/Allston Interchange Project and “Unchoke The Throat”

I-90/Allston Interchange Project and “Unchoke The Throat”

WalkBoston is pleased at the news that MassDOT is advancing the modified “at-grade” option for the I-90 Interchange Project. There is still a lot of work to be done and details to work out, but we are happy with this direction. The modified “at-grade” option shown at the recent I-90 Task Force meeting includes a wider, 20-foot-wide boardwalk along the Charles River in the “throat” section and walking/biking connection to Agganis Way at Boston University.

WalkBoston has been one of many groups working to make this happen. So many have dedicated countless hours, megawatts of brain power, and tireless energy to making this project more than a highway project. We only wish that our friend, WalkBoston founder, and the creative mind behind reframing the conversation about the walking and biking paths, Bob Sloane, was here to hear this news. Bob passed away this past May, and many people have mentioned that a section of the paths should be dedicated to his memory. 

To read more about the project, see some of the coverage below. 

Boston Globe: “Mass. Pike in Allston will be grounded, state says, vowing to move forward with mega transportation project

Commonwealth Magazine: “State embraces all-at-grade Allston Project

Streetsblog MASS: “MassDOT Picks ‘At-Grade’ Option for Allston/I-90 Project” (if you need a refresher, check out the updated overview of the entire project.)

The MassPike will be straightened out near the Allston/Cambridge exit, setting the stage for future development of 100 acres for 50,000 future workers or residents – similar in scale to the Seaport District, Kendall Square or Prudential Center.

• Regional rail and crosstown bus connections are essential.
• People must have walking and biking access to the river and across the project area.
• Charles River paths must be safe and separated for walkers/runners/cyclists.

In the lead up to the Feb 2018 deadline, WalkBoston and the Charles River Conservancy generated over 160 comment letters from the public stressing the need to address one particular aspect of this area: the Throat.

Ongoing Efforts

August 17, 2020 – Allston I-90 – Early August 2020 Update

Following an announcement of the potential alternatives to be included in the upcoming FHWA/MassDOT studies for a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), 10+ organizations including WalkBoston sent in a letter that we hoped would help guide the writing that was to be included in a scope for the DEIS. The letter was not well-received by MassDOT and a response came quickly outlining why our letter was not going to have an effect on state/federal plans.

Shortly after these communications, the DEIS full document was distributed. It  has three alternatives for the Throat area, each of which will fail to meet the standards that are prescribed in the options MassDOT proposed to develop.

The two options our groups favor fail immediately because they cannot be constructed without either temporary or permanent fill in the Charles River, and the State’s Secretary of Environmental Affairs has stated that if any option stays out of the river it will necessarily become the chosen approach.

This isn’t just an Allston thing: the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce is also concerned about transit access along the corridor. The Boston Globe editorial board weighed in over the weekend, saying “The state and activists should compromise on a solution that is not a throwback to 1960s transportation projects but a vision for a thriving waterfront and transit corridor.”

We’ll make sure to keep you in the loop as things continue to move forward.

Allston Multimodal Project Task Force:
Wednesday, December 11, 2019 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.,
Fiorentino Center, 123 Antwerp Street, Boston

Allston Multimodal Project Public Meeting:
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.,
Dunning Elementary School, 48 Frost Street, Framingham

November 13, 2019 Task Force 2-6pm (Workshop – please note earlier hours)
Fiorentino Center, 123 Antwerp Street, Boston

  • Note from Tuesday, September 17th: “As noted last Friday, our October task force meeting will be on October 10th and not the 9th as originally booked.To accommodate this change, we have switched our venue to the Jackson-Mann community center located at 500 Cambridge Street. We will provide the usual room set-up and refreshments.Lastly, please note that as discussed on September 12th, the November task force meeting will be November 13th back at the Fiorentino Center. Please note that the November meeting will run as a workshop from 2-5PM.”

November 7, 2019 Federal Highway NEPA Public Information Meeting
Brighton High School, 25 Warren St, Boston

Federal Highway Administration Hosts Public Information Meeting to Introduce The National Environmental Policy Act Scoping Document for MassDOT’s I-90 Allston Multimodal Project

Scoping document is available online, public comments encouraged.

The purpose of the November 7th meeting is to introduce attendees to the contents of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Scoping Report, provide an overview of the ongoing federal environmental permitting process for the I-90 Allston project, and outline the process for members of the public to comment on the document. The meeting will begin a public comment period which will conclude on December 12. (The normal 30-day comment period has been extended by seven days due to the Thanksgiving holiday.)

June 20, 2019 Task Force Meeting

  • Updated agenda: Topics for discussion will be the West Station Flip and a brief review of a potential temporary structure to be placed in the Charles River to help facilitate construction in the throat. There are no advance materials associated with this meeting.
  • initial agenda: Progress update on CTPS Travel Demand Model, future Noise and Air Quality modeling of the preferred alternative

May 23, 2019 – Task Force Meeting

  • Environmental Permitting, including MEPA/NEPA, 106, 4f, WPA etc.

April 24, 2019 – Task Force Meeting

  • Constructability, Staging, Phasing of preferred alternative

March 27, 2019 – Task Force Meeting

  • Discussion of preferred alternative utility conflicts, solutions

February 27, 2019 – Task Force Meeting

  • Preliminary horizontal and vertical alignments of preferred alternative including Soldiers Field Road, I-90 EB and WB

January 23, 2019 – Task Force Meeting

January 11, 2019 – Unchoked: Dual Paths Included In MassDOT’s Plans For Massive Allston I90 Project!

November 30, 2018 – Comments On The Findings Of The Independent Review Team For The Throat Portion Of The I-90 Allston Interchange Project

November 14, 2018 – Task Force Meeting

  • FEIR Update
  • Public Transit
  • Charles River Edge Treatments
  • Decision on Preferred Alternative

October 24, 2018 – Task Force Meeting

  • FEIR Update
  • Revisions to the Street Grid Concept
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Connectivity

October 17, 2018 – Task Force Meeting

  • Independent Review Team Final Presentation
  • Presentation and Discussion of Draft Report

October 16, 2018 – Boston Globe – “Latest idea for Mass. Pike project: elevate the bike path along the Charles”

September 26, 2018 – Task Force Meeting

September 12, 2018 5:30pm – Charles River “Throat” Site Walk (RSVP!)

Thanks to everyone who came for the Charles River “Throat” Site Walk and to hear WalkBoston, the Charles River Esplanade Association, The Charles River Conservancy, Charles River Watershed Association talk about the importance of this section of the pathway and riverbank on September 12, 2018.

Thank you post & photos from the walk are available on Facebook

August 15, 2018 – Letter to Review Team on Restoration of the River Edge from WalkBoston, Charles River Conservancy, Charles River Watershed Association

June 29, 2018 – Letter Thanking MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack

June 29, 2018 – Boston Globe – “Getting the Getting the Allston multimodal plan right”

June 27, 2018 – Allston I-90 Throat Area History and Mitigation Recommendations

Handout on the history of the Charles River Throat area and recommendations for mitigation. This was distributed to members in advance of the Allston I-90 Task Force meeting on June 27, 2018.

June 25, 2018 – Letter with Proposed Task Force Agenda

April 30, 2018 – WBUR – “The Allston I-90 Interchange Project

Jim Aloisi and Wendy Landman joined WBUR’s Radio Boston to discuss the project, focused on West Station.

April 23, 2018 – Letter To MassDOT Re: I-90 – Reject The Viaduct Option

April 23, 2018 – Boston Globe – “To MassDOT: Tear down this wall”

April 10, 2018, 6-8PM – Read the event recap on Universalhub

Free Event! Atlantic Wharf, 290 Congress Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02210

How can the MassDOT I-90 Allston Reconstruction be an exemplar of Sustainable Mobility by including walking & biking connections to the Charles River parklands from Allston, Brookline, and Downtown? Learn on April 10th!

More info on Facebook event

Presentations by:
Joe Beggan, Harvard University
Alan Mountjoy, NBBJ
Mark Dawson, Sasaki
Michael Nichols, Esplanade Association

Panel discussion and audience Q&A moderated by ArchitectureBoston editor Renée Loth with:
Jim Aloisi, Former MassDOT Secretary
Antonio DiMambro, urban planner
Tom Doolittle, Boston Society of Landscape Architects
Emily Saul, November Project Boston co-leader
Kishore Varanasi, CBT

Video of the event is thanks to the WGBH Forum Network

February 22, 2018 – Read the full email

Thanks to your letters to MEPA, we are making progress on the Allston I-90 Interchange project! Your comments were referred to in MEPA’s just-released certificate on this project:

“I received more than 500 comment letters on the DEIR, including comments from elected officials representing Allston and other parts of Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and other communities. Three significant themes are identified: importance of transportation access and choices; need for and the opportunity to restore and expand parkland; and the opportunity to connect neighborhoods, businesses and institutions through transportation and development.”

The certificate commented on our actions directly, and positively: “Comments expressing an opinion on the Throat Area alternatives heavily favored the at- grade alternative conceptualized by A Better City (ABC). In many cases, support for this alternative was coupled with a desire that the project include a plan developed by the Charles River Conservancy and WalkBoston that would provide pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the Throat Area on fill or pile-supported structures in the Charles River.

Over 150 of the 500 comments received at MEPA were from you – supporters of WalkBoston and the Charles River Conservancy – we know because you sent us copies of your comments!