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Harvard Advocates for 'Robust Evaluation' of 'At Grade' Approach for Mass. Pike Section

Harvard officials said they hope the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will consider an at
Harvard officials said they hope the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will consider an at By Naomi S. Castellon-Perez
By Taylor C. Peterman, Crimson Staff Writer

As the Department of Transportation weighs its options for redesigning the Massachusetts Turnpike, University spokesperson Kevin Casey wrote in an emailed statement that the school hopes the state will thoroughly evaluate “an alternative all at grade approach.”

MassDOT is currently considering several proposals for construction at “the throat” — the area where the 12 lanes converge at the narrowest point — including three “build” alternatives and one “no build” alternative.

The “no build” alternative would consist of extensive rehabilitation of the existing viaduct. The “Soldiers Field Hybrid” alternative would elevate Soldiers Field Road, and the “At Grade” alternative would make all structures level with the surrounding area. MassDOT announced its newest plan — the Highway Viaduct alternative — in late June, which would shorten and reduce the width of the highway viaduct.

The rebuild of the Mass. Turnpike is part of MassDOT’s Allston Multimodal Project — a plan that began in 2014 to improve the turnpike, replace the Allston viaduct, and create a new commuter line at West Station.

A Better City, a local business association, is behind the “all at grade” alternative that Harvard said MassDOT should weigh. Representatives from A Better City currently serve on the I-90 Allston Interchange Task Force, which consists of residents, business owners, University representatives, and other local stakeholders.

Casey said MassDOT has “yielded significant favorable progress on the timing, location and track allocations associated with West Station” in an emailed statement,

He also wrote he hopes the “all at grade approach” will be thoroughly evaluated in a process that yields “an option that minimizes impacts on the river and improves safety.”

“With most stakeholders, including the City of Boston, aligning behind an alternative all at grade approach to the throat proposed by ABC [A Better City], we hope that it might be included in a similarly fair and robust evaluation process that can generate broad support,” he wrote.

A Better City’s website states this solution will “reduce both initial costs and future expense, freeing up resources to make other multimodal improvements, to mitigate the impact of construction and to create better connections.”

On Friday, Richard A. Dimino, president and CEO of A Better City, posted a statement on LinkedIn expressing enthusiasm for the prospect of MassDOT advancing the “all at grade” proposal.

“A Better City believes MassDOT is well positioned to move forward with this I-90 all at-grade concept we've advanced with the support of the City of Boston,” he wrote. “If MassDOT wants to drive this all at-grade I-90 alternative to success they have a vast team of consultants at their fingertips.”

“A Better City looks forward to partnering with MassDOT, the City of Boston, and other key stakeholders in shaping a 21st century all at-grade alternative that achieves both mobility and environmental benefits,” he added.

—Staff writer Taylor C. Peterman can be reached at taylor.peterman@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @taylorcpeterman.

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City PoliticsHarvard in the CityAllstonUniversity