The expressed wishes of Mrs. John F. Kennedy not to have the Memorial Drive underpasses constructed reportedly has influenced a quiet reversal of opinion witthin the Massachusetts Legislature--a reversal widely regarded as the kiss of death for the underpasses.
A bill ordering a new study of the need for the underpasses is currently pending in the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill received a favorable recommendation from the Metropolitan Affairs Committee, and observers believe it will pass when reported to the floor of the House.
The bill would order the Metropolitan District Commission to study the effect of the recent opening of the Massachusetts Turnpike extension into Boston on Memorial Drive traffic. Almost all observers agree that MDC commissioner Howard Whitmore Jr. '29 would declare that the extension had eased the congestion and, therefore, obviated the need for the underpasses.
Mrs. Kennedy's Visit
Mrs. Kennedy visited Cambridge early in March to attend the opening of an exhibition of Indian art. It was during this stay in the City that she reportedly told influential state leaders of her dislike of the underpasses.
Informed sources could not be reached to confirm the incident last night, but one man close to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library was quoted as saying: "It doesn't make any difference whether or not she said it; everybody thinks she said it."
The sycamore trees which line Memorial Drive near Boylston St. form a frontage for the Bennett St. MBTA Yards, the likely choice for the Kennedy Library. I.M. Pei, the Library's architect, has talked to MDC officials, including Whitmore and his predecessor Robert F. Murphy, about the Memorial Drive situation. He is reported to oppose the construction of the underpasses on aesthetic grounds.
Foes of the underpasses, silently pleased with the turn of events, believe that the bill currently before the legislature represents a "face-saving" device for those elements who have fought for the underpasses' construction.
The original legislation ordering the underpasses to be built at Boylston St., River St., and Western Ave. was passed in 1962, and a number of attempts to modify or repeal this act were defeated by the legislature in its last session.