Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Turnpike Ramps downtown?

Again, apologies for the last minute notice, but there's a meeting tonight (June 12th)  to discuss potential exits and onramps from the Mass Pike in the Back Bay/ LMA/ Fenway.  This is a public advisory meeting for a study that Mass DOT is doing.

At first blush this seems like an obviously bad idea- the thought of bringing freeway-speed traffic into a dense and highly pedestrianized area like the Back Bay seems pretty terrifying.

However, there's a carrot which might make it palatable (in connection with good design of the exits/onramps.   The thought is that there is a lot of surface traffic that is just people driving from the Back Bay/ Longwood Medical Center/ Fenway to the pike.  Theoretically if they could get to the pike more easily, that would relieve traffic on the rest of the streets, making them less congested.  If vehicle counts go down, then a lot of surface roads could then be eligible for road diets to create better bike facilities, wider sidewalks, etc.

The question becomes, what guarantees to better surface street infrastructure is Mass DOT willing to commit to?   Will better pike access just make it easier to drive downtown and make other people more willing to drive?  Will those people fill the spaces on the surface roads vacated by those on the pike?

I'm going to have to leave a bit early, but I'm going to be there for as much of it as I can.  6pm to 8pm at the Boston Public Library in the Mezzanine conference room.

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