University Plans Allston T Stop

The University will push Boston to establish a new commuter rail station near the Allston campus, Harvard officials said on Monday.

The stop is an outgrowth of a long standing Boston plan for a public transportation “urban ring” that would enable people to get into the western area of the city without being forced to connect through the Downtown Crossing and Park Street stations. Harvard wants to expand the ring more deeply into Allston than originally envisioned in order to create a “life science necklace” that would link Boston University, MIT, and Harvard.

“This is a pretty big idea and no one has said yes yet, but we think it makes a lot of sense,” said Harvard’s Director of Physical Planning Harris Band at a meeting of the Harvard-Allston Task Force Monday night. He added that the plan had been “gently discussed in a lot of different circles.”

The stop, tentatively named West Station, would be located near the turnpike ramps with the intention of reducing traffic by providing an incentive for people to abandon their cars before they enter the city. Band said the plan could be realized “fairly soon.”

A Harvard shuttle would connect the stop to the Allston campus. Band said that in the coming years the University would have to completely revamp its shuttle system, which runs throughout the city from Cambridge to the Longwood Medical Area. The University hopes to receive permission from the city for exclusive transit lanes, which would help eliminate congestion.

Band also presented the task force with possible locations for new parking lots to replace the parking that will be lost in the construction of new buildings. Planners currently envision putting all parking lots underground, an expensive proposition in an area that is converted marshland.

The University’s transportation plans for Allston center around creating a more friendly environment for pedestrians. Now an area defined by high density thoroughfares like Western Avenue, proposals include creating bike lanes, broader sidewalks, and slowing traffic with traffic lights and sharp right turns.

“There’s something of a revolution that can be achieved here in terms of pedestrian dynamics,” Band said.

Adam Shulman, who works for Boston’s Department of Transportation, also said Boston may turn the parking along North Harvard Street by the Business School into two hour or metered spots in response to resident complaints that commuters are leaving their cars there all day, as they park and walk into Harvard Square to catch the T.

—Staff writer Natalie I. Sherman can be reached at nsherman@fas.harvard.edu.