Governor Deval Patrick today joined MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and state and local officials to announce that the I-90/Massachusetts Turnpike Allston Interchange Improvements project will include a new Commuter Rail stop, with pedestrian and bike access, that will allow for increased development and growth opportunities in the area.
“We invest in infrastructure to revitalize urban neighborhoods and bolster growth and opportunity across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Patrick. “With this project we are paving the way for future opportunities that will advance economic development in Allston and help build a brighter future for Massachusetts.”
MassDOT has reached an arrangement with Harvard University that will allow for the straightening of I-90, and construction of a new Commuter Rail station, currently known as West Station, on the Worcester Line. Harvard is the current owner of Beacon Park Yard, where the MBTA plans to develop to use part of the yard for a new MBTA Commuter Rail layover and maintenance facility, a key requirement for future expanded commuter rail service into and out of South Station.
“Harvard is pleased to be part of a partnership that includes the Commonwealth, City of Boston, CSXT and the general public, in helping accommodate this visionary project that will serve the region for decades to come,” said Katie Lapp, Executive Vice President of Harvard University.
The I-90 Massachusetts Turnpike Allston Toll Plaza sits immediately north of Beacon Park Yard, and south of Cambridge Street. The Patrick Administration’s plan to implement All Electronic Tolling (AET) on the Turnpike has made it possible to drastically reconfigure the highway alignment in this area by relocating I-90 into a much straighter alignment south of its current location. The relocation of the Turnpike will replace a nearly half mile long structurally-deficient viaduct , which consists of 29 bridge structures built in the mid-1960’s, and will straighten the highway’s alignment through the Allston-Brighton toll area, reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions while opening up approximately 50 acres of developable land with an additional 35 acres of air rights development expected over the new highway and rail infrastructure. The project will also bring reliable, long-term relief to commuters who travel the Pike.
Beacon Park Yard is a 22-acre site bordered by the existing Mass Pike, the Worcester Commuter Rail Line and the I-90 Allston Toll Plaza. This site was formerly a CSX freight and intermodal rail terminal which is now owned by Harvard University. The ability to undertake this project was made possible in large part by CSX’s decision to relocate much of its freight traffic out of the InnerCore to the Worcester area, allowing this site to be available for development. Governor Patrick announced that design and permitting would begin immediately to rebuild and straighten I-90 in October 2013.
“The I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement project is a true testament to the power that thinking about transportation holistically can have,” said Secretary Davey. “The development of this project has been a fully collaborative effort, engaging teams from across MassDOT to make the best use of this promising site.”
MassDOT has engaged a 49-member task force comprising neighborhood representatives, transportation advocates, institutional stakeholders and the cities of Boston and Cambridge to garner input on the interchange project. Much of the dialogue has centered on the incredible growth and development opportunity presented by the project and the need for the project to have true multi-modal transportation options, including highway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian access for the surrounding neighborhoods.
MassDOT will initiate the detailed environmental review of the Interchange Project and West Station alternatives with the release of an Environmental Notification Form in early November which will be followed by the expected submission of Environmental Assessment next year and the design/build contract procurement process following in 2016. The full contract for the project is expected to be awarded in 2017. Preliminary conceptual designs indicate that the interstate will be routed south of its current alignment, through the existing northern portion of the rail yard.
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