Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Storrow Tunnel Reconstruction Related to Memorial Drive and to Harvard Expansion in Allston

On June 13, 2005, Marilyn Wellons submitted the following objection to the ENF on the Storrow Drive Reconstruction project, submitted to the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency:


Public comment on the Storrow tunnel ENF closes today, before the release of the Harvard University-funded EOT study of transportation alternatives in Allston. Harvard proposes to use either Storrow Drive or the Mass Pike to connect its Allston campus to MIT and Cambridge over the BU or Grand Junction rail bridge. Although Harvard's website,, shows this connection as part of a public transportation project, the Urban Ring, no such access (except for eastbound Storrow traffic to the BU Bridge) is now possible from either Storrow or the Mass Pike, nor are there official plans for any. The EOT study will consider such a connection and bear directly on the Storrow tunnel's environmental issues. Because of closed public comment on the tunnel, however, its findings will escape public comment and, possibly, MEPA's consideration.

Like the proposed work on the Storrow tunnel, the DCR claimed its work on Memorial Drive ("Historic Parkways Restoration") between the BU and Longfellow Bridges improved Charles River parkland. In fact, the project has already limited access to Mem Drive, instituted two westbound turns outbound from the Mass. Ave. bridge, and will destroy hundreds of trees and straighten the Drive to improve sight lines. These long-planned changes will allow Memorial Drive to handle a greater intensity of traffic for any temporary diversion of traffic during work on the Storrow tunnel. If the state accepts Harvard's plans for its new "Urban Ring" river crossing, the diversion will be permanent.

Is is possible the DCR did not know about the apparent need to repair or replace the Storrow tunnel when it changed Memorial Drive? Claiming an increase in parkland, the DCR is working on both sides of the Charles to transform the transportation network and divert public resources to subsidize Harvard's development in Allston.

Because the EOT study of transportation alternatives in Allston will reveal Harvard's plans in greater detail, and because Harvard's plans are driving the DCR's plans, please do not act on the submitted ENF until you have this information and additional public comment informed by it. MEPA needs them to assess the Storrow project properly.