The Metropolitan District Commission selected designs yesterday for the underpasses it plans to build on Memorial Drive.
Its decisions seemed to mark a small victory for Cambridge anti-underpass groups, since the approved designs, the most expensive of those submitted, are the least destructive to the Charles River shoreline.
For the Boylston St. intersection the five members of the MDC unanimously chose an "extended-portal" underpass that would allow Weld Boat House to remain standing. For River St. and Western Ave, they approved by a 4-1 vote 1100-foot tunnels running beneath both roads.
According to MDC Commissioner Robert F. Murphy, the tunnels were chosen over raised viaducts because the commissioners wanted to provide an attractive view for the John F. Kennedy Library, which will be built diagonally across from Western Ave. on the Boston side of the river.
As an "approximate" estimate, Murphy said that the construction of the underpasses might begin in April, 1965. In previous statements, he had predicted an earlier starting date.
Yesterday, however, he said that the preparation of preliminary drawings would take four or five months, and that the final plans would not be ready until six months later. Another two months will be needed, he continued, to advertise the contract, choose a contractor, and make other necessary arrangements.
Although a spokesman for the Citizens' Emergency Committee to Save Memorial Drive said yesterday that he was "pleased" by the MDC's decision, he promised "a long, hard fight" to block construction of the underpasses. John R. Moot '43 said that the MDC's choice was "esthetically nice" but still "a waste of taxpayers' money." "As long as they don't start building we can keep fighting," Moot said. He added that the citizens' group was still hoping that Secretary of the interior Stewart L. Udall would declare Memorial Drive a national historical site.
The extended Boylston St. underpass, to be about 400 feet long, was preferred to a more conventional design that would have forced the demolition of Weld Boat House. The approved design will cost approximately $2.2 million to build, as compared to $1.3 million for the conventional underpass.
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