Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Charles River: MassDOT, the Mass. Pike work, and a good meeting.

1. Apologies.
2. MassDOT and the Mass Pike Rearrangement.
A. Introductory.
B. Good meeting.
C. Boston Redevelopment Authority.
D. Harvard University.
E. Excellent guest.
3. Summary.

1. Apologies.

This is the second of three reports I have been promising.  I was very pleased with my photos in the report I have published.

It looks like the report on the Muddy River Canada Goose situation will not go forward, for technical reasons.

I have deferred the most important report of the three, in part because I really want to get this one right.  Another reason was that I was very happy with the photo report being on top.  Prominently featured in the first report is a beautiful goose whom I am very pleased to brag about.

2. MassDOT and the Mass Pike Rearrangement.

A. Introductory.

I have been issuing many reports on the series of meetings conducted by MassDOT (the Mass. Department of Transportation) concerning their anticipated rebuilding of I90 (Mass. Pike) on the South Side of the Charles River across from the habitat of the Charles River White Geese.  Now is the time to get into true environmental issues.

In the August meeting, the staff attempted to leave an opening for structured new comments from the group.  That has turned into what appears to be a major opening for comments in the next meeting.

Here are MassDOT plans of the current situation and the apparent plans for the rearrangement as those plans currently stand.

B. Good meeting.

The staff scheduled several very well done presentations.

The technical presentations were particularly useful.  Unfortunately, they really do not come into the scope of this blog, so I will just leave that as a deserved compliment to them.

Two presentations were within the area our interest, from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and Harvard University.

C. Boston Redevelopment Authority.

The BRA is a nominally independent body which really is the Mayor’s planning arm.  Within the structure of the City of Boston, it has considerably more power than the usual planning department.

The BRA is hiring a consultant who will be on board quickly and issue a report next year to the BRA on the consultant’s evaluation of the plans.

D. Harvard University.

Harvard sounded like Harvard.

Harvard is seeking an agreement with MassDOT on the details of the rearrangement.  Since Harvard pretty much owns all the land in question, an agreement makes good sense.

The presentation, however, was true Harvard.  Harvard presented their PROPOSAL as if it were written in stone and WOULD be the reality.

Hubris, to put it mildly.

Harvard purchased the land in question several months after a report issued by the public transit agency, the Metropolitan Boston Transportation Authority.

The property contains a lot of spaghetti, the exit from the Mass. Pike to the Brighton neighborhood of Boston and to Cambridge.

It also contains the vestiges of a once massive railroad yard, the Beacon Yard.  That has moved to Worcester except for a few facilities needed by the state for the regional state system.

The MBTA report indicated that an off ramp was possible to Cambridge over the Grand Junction railroad bridge from the Mass. Pike.  A whole bunch of destruction on the Cambridge side, planned or accomplished smells like bureaucrats, etc., preping the place for the Off Ramp.

Promptly occurring on the Boston side was a change in the Mass. Pike spaghetti which rendered the off ramp more workable.

Some bureaucrats tried to deed the place to Harvard without restriction.

The legislature caught them.

The legislature made the transfer contingent on continuing to provide transportation needs of the community.

Harvard conveniently ignored the severity of the legislative limitation on its ownership.

E. Excellent guest.

I brought to the meeting a visiting professor from the University of Graz in Austria, Professor Robin Pope.

I have shown Robin around the situation on the Cambridge side of the Charles River because of her interest in the Charles River White Geese.

She neglected to mention that she is a transportation expert.  And a clearly impressive speaker.

She did me proud.  She made some excellent comments and displayed good grasp of the issues, including the limits of building transportation upon transportation upon transportation.

And she very effectively put in a good word for the Charles River White Geese.

She made me proud.

Here are some views she had of the Charles from the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where she has been staying.  I led with one of my photos.  The Hyatt Regency is on the north side of Memorial Drive heading east.  In buildings of importance, going east from the Destroyed Nesting Area and the Wild Area, first comes Boston University’s Cambridge Boat House on the river, and then comes the Hyatt.

The photos show Memorial Drive and the Charles directly in front of the hotel, the Charles and Boston to the east of the hotel, and the Charles to the west of the hotel.  The last photo shows BU's Cambridge Boat House, the Wild Area, the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge, and the BU Bridge, respectively.

The lead photo to this blog report is a more distant version of the last photo.  The two massive buildings in the upper right of the lead photo are Boston University’s massive, rather new, dormitories which are a few buildings from and which tower over the area that Harvard owns and MassDOT is rearranging.

3. Conclusion.

OK, I have given you the basics of the meeting.

Next will come the policy coming up in the next meeting.  This will include photo, maps, etc.

This is the difficult part.  But this is a logical separation of reports.