Saturday, February 18, 2006

DCR Proposal to Move Storrow Traffic to Memorial

Bob Reports:

1. Marilyn's Analysis for Publication.
2. My Short Analysis.

1. Marilyn's Analysis for Publication.

The following was written by Marilyn on February 14, 2006, between the Department of Conservation and Recreation meetings on February 13 and 15 in which the DCR, as usual, contradicted themselves. The DCR flatly refused to provide their timetable for further destruction on Memorial Drive but was very happy to give timetables on Longfellow Bridge and Storrow Drive work.

This analysis was in the form of a letter to the Cambridge Chronicle, too late for February 16 (weekly) publication:

The other shoe is falling

In 2003, Harvard bought the 51 acres in Allston
containing the Mass Pike exit to Cambridge a few
months after the MBTA's feasibility study showed the
pike exit to Cambridge could be moved to the Grand
Junction rail bridge that goes under the BU Bridge.
Such a move would free up the valuable riverfront land
for Harvard's own purposes.

Harvard and the Pike Authority forgot to include a
permanent easement for the Pike and freight yards in
Allston, so the sale was halted til they were

Harvard's big plans for Allston give us reason to
monitor all transportation and other development plans
on the Boston side very closely. As one State
official said, "we assume Harvard didn't buy the Pike
land in order to be the landlord of the Pike and the
freight yards."

The DCR's meeting on the Storrow Drive tunnel repair,
held February 13 at the State House, indicated the
other shoe is dropping.

Storrow Drive handles 92,000 cars a day, Memorial
Drive only 30,000. The DCR says the Pike is very
close to capacity, Mem Drive is way below. So when
the tunnel is closed for years, traffic will be
diverted to Mem Drive. The DCR would like some of the
temporary diversions to be permanent.

As we know, the DCR has been preparing Memorial Drive
to handle that traffic: limiting access,
straightening it out, instituting new westbound turns,
cutting down all those trees. And the MBTA has showed
it was feasible to use the Grand Junction rail bridge
to move the Pike exit to Cambridge from its current
location. And Cambridge has provided the Cambridgeport
Roads project to connect to the Grand Junction rail

In brief, diverting many of those 92,000 daily auto
trips from Storrow Drive to Mem Drive is likely to be
permanent, with the addition of a new Pike exit to
Cambridge as provided in the old Inner Belt.

There is a lot going on on the Charles River instead
of the sort of public rapid transit all of us want--to
say the least.

Marilyn Wellons.

2. My Short Analysis.

I sent the following out to two lists between the two meetings:

. . . Unfortunately, money which should be spent on public
transportation is being wasted on cars.

I just got back from the state house meeting on the rebuilding of
Storrow Drive's tunnel. They intend to close that tunnel for years. They
figure the Mass. Pike is close to capacity now and that Memorial Drive
is way below capacity.

We are seeing another part of the conversion of that rail bridge to an
off ramp from the Mass. Pike.

Memorial Drive is being straightened out, with destruction of 449 to
660 trees and a major part of that railroad right of way, to relocate the
traffic from Storrow Drive during that work.

. . . . I think the numbers are something like 90,000 on Storrow in the
[tunnel] to 30,000 on Memorial Drive.

There is a lot going on on the Charles River instead of the sort of
public rapid transit all of us want. The rapid transit is being relocated
as part of this package to support Harvard's Mass. Pike campus.

Charles River Transit Initiatives for the Benefit of Harvard - Who Pays?

Bob Reports:

1. APT Comment - Transit into the Blue, perhaps Harvard will pay for a new street car line? 2/14/06
2. Marilyn - You are talking about Harvard. Harvard does not pay. 2/17/06
3. Terry agrees with Marilyn. 2/18/06
4. Bob - In Light of the Current Games. 2/19/06

1. APT Comment - Transit into the Blue, perhaps Harvard will pay for a new street car line? 2/14/06

The following is quoted from the Association for Public Transportation’s List on February 14, 2006. The author is Barry Steinberg who is one of the more active members:

Transit into the Blue.

A proposal prompted by reports of the Harvard University Charles River area planning initiative.

A reading of "Streetcar Suburbs" by Sam B. Warner, Jr. illustrates that Boston's first westerly streetcar developments were privately funded. They were driven by landowners desiring access to transit riders who could provide a housing market for their land. These lines became the Beacon St. and Commonwealth Ave. streetcar lines of today--Among Boston's most heavily utilized transit services.

The Association for Public Transportation has long supported the westward extension of the Blue Line to Charles Station for a connection with the Red Line. APT President Fred R. Moore long ago suggested that the extension be designed in such a way that it could be further extended, providing for 'further adventures'.

The time for such may be arriving. Harvard University has been looking into extension of their campus into the Allston area. This would be fed by transportation lines. There could be a subterranean relocation and straightening of Storrow Drive, with a level for a branch of the Green Line included.

But yet, the Green Line doesn't go that way and is overburdened anyway. Now come Fred Moore's "further adventures": Extend the Blue Line from Charles Station (courtesy of Harvard University) basically anywhere Harvard wants to route a subway--If they are paying the freight. Presumably, if someone is paying for a transit line they will expect riders to use it.


2. Marilyn - You are talking about Harvard. Harvard does not pay. 2/17/06

Marilyn responded:


However, this is Harvard we're talking about.

The public has footed the bill for all transportation developments so far relating to Harvard's Allston campus. Harvard doesn't scruple to use public transportation money: in 2003 it bought the Pike's 51 acres two months after the T released its Urban Ring Phase 2 Grand Junction rail bridge river crossing feasibility study, paid for by you and me.

Although increasing east-west commuter rail service through Allston would benefit Harvard, I don't hear anyone saying Harvard will pay for it.

Harvard won't be paying for the U-turn the Pike will build at the Allston tolls for drop offs in Allston.

The U-turn will allow westbound Pike traffic to turn and cross the river over a very possible new Pike exit on the Grand Junction rail bridge. Moving the Pike exit as the T showed was feasible there would connect to the Cambridgeport Roads project and the Mem Drive "Historic Restoration," both paid for by the public.

Would Harvard pay to free up its 51 acres from the Pike and freight yards if the public will do it for them with permanent auto "traffic diversions" from Storrow to Mem Drive?

Harvard is however paying for the EOT study of "Transportation Alternatives at Allston Landing" due at the end of this month.

Even if Harvard paid for the transportation infrastructure for its Allston campus, there would be other, associated and opportunity costs that we all would pay. APT members are better able to calculate these costs than most.

Harvard stays rich by getting others to pay for what it needs. I've read that John F. Kennedy himself never carried money and his chums always paid for his share.

Marilyn Wellons

3. Terry agrees with Marilyn. 2/18/06

Well said Marilyn! In the 20 years I have lived in
Cambridge I have witnessed Harvard's unscrupulous
business maneuvers (land acquisition,Allston in
particular)done quietly so as to avoid any community

They appear to care little for the communities
effected by their ever expanding campus. They will put
what ever spin necessary on a particular topic in
order to make whatever plan they have more palpable to
the general public. They have not appeared (to me at
least)to be an Institution of integrity or
transparency when it comes to the ever present goal of

4. Bob - In Light of the Current Games. 2/19/06

Then again, the current initiatives with regard to repair of the Storrow tunnel are exactly the time to move any transit tunnel under Storrow. The MDC very clearly has no such interest.

Members of APT support the Blue Line subway connector from Government Center to Charles which is next to the area being reconstructed. The idea of extending the Blue Line further has been to run it under Newbury Street to take the load off the Green Line in that area and, perhaps to link up with the Longwood / Harvard Medical Area by switching over to under Boylston after a shared / transfer station at Auditorium / Hynes Station at Mass. Avenue.

I have preferred going under Charles Street with the Blue Line.

The other mentioned alternative, which Barry is discussing, has been to go under Storrow and then Arlington Street.

Any such line would likely be unfeasible without some portion under the Public Gardens, preferably deep bore.

Barry is bringing the idea one step further by going out Storrow after the tunnel (at Harvard's expense). There have been suggestions at accessing Harvard's Mass. Pike campus by bringing transit up the Mass. Pike. That would likely be the most feasible solution if they went up Storrow, i.e. to keep going after Mass. Ave. and then to cut under Kenmore and link up with the Mass. Pike.

If the Urban Ring were to use the Kenmore crossing (by far the better of the two alternatives), this idea would create an extremely busy situation in Kenmore. On the other hand, it would prevent any possible harm to the Public Gardens. A very major problem from a transportation point of view to a Storrow alignment would be the fact that the Charles River end of Back Back is a far inferior route for stations and passenger usage than Newbury Street.

The only time a Storrow Drive alternative could possibly be done would be with the tunnel rebuilding because cut and cover after the tunnel is the only practical means of construction between the tunnel and Mass. Ave.