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Wednesday, June 01, 2022

MAYOR WU TOURS BEACON YARDS SITE & REAFFIRMS VISION FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT IN ALLSTON

MAYOR WU TOURS BEACON YARDS SITE & REAFFIRMS VISION FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT IN ALLSTON 

The City & MassDOT have jointly applied for federal funding that would go toward reimagining I-90, presenting an opportunity to build a public transit-oriented, greener Allston
BOSTON - Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - Building on her commitment to accelerate the construction of West Station and encourage development of all methods of transportation through the Allston Multimodal Project, Mayor Michelle Wu toured the former Beacon Park Rail Yard joined by MassDOT, City officials, Harvard University leaders, and Allston-Brighton community partners. The Allston Multimodal Project would straighten the structurally deficient viaduct that currently carries I-90 adjacent to the Charles River, reconnect the neighborhood which has been separated by a highway and railyards for decades, open up 70+ acres of land for development, add public transit service to better connect Allston to neighboring communities, and upgrade pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure.  

Last week, the Mayor co-signed a joint grant application with Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) for more than $1 billion toward the nearly $2 billion Allston Multimodal Project, pledging to partner with the State to make improvements along Allston’s riverfront. The application seeks to obtain federal funding through the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program. 

“For too long, a highway has cut off Allston’s residents from access to the Charles River, and today’s tour showed what is possible when we reimagine how this space can work for our residents,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “The federal funding would improve safety on I-90, while also moving away from designing a City solely for cars. By prioritizing access to the riverfront, public transit routes, and added space for affordable housing we can ensure we’re making the right decisions for future generations of Boston residents and visitors. I look forward to working with the State and Harvard to make this vision a reality.”

“As we look to transition more trips to transit, biking, and walking, we are pleased to have partnered with MassDOT on this grant application,” said Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Chief of Streets. “This project would reconnect the Allston community, construct a major new multimodal transit hub, create miles of walkable, transit-oriented neighborhood streets, and make regionally important investments in our bike network.” 

As part of the joint grant application, MassDOT has agreed to incorporate several project elements critical to the City of Boston, including:
  • Renewed commitment to an all at-grade design for the “throat” area along the Charles River
  • West Station, a new Commuter Rail stop, will be built as a regional multimodal transit hub aligned with a vision for enhanced bus and rail service
  • Support for decking over rail and highway in the area surrounding West Station 
  • New pedestrian / bicycle crossing from Boston to the Charles River at Agganis Way
  • Multi-use path and linear greenspace along the southern edge of the project site connecting from Franklin Street to the Charles River
  • An expanded Paul Dudley White Path and green space along the Charles River to provide space and separation for pedestrians and cyclists
  • A Complete Streets design approach for local streets constructed as part of the project

"The I-90 Allston Multimodal Project provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to heal and rehabilitate the scar of highway infrastructure that divided the vibrant working-class community of Allston in 1964, restricted resident access to the river and shut down several passenger rail stations in both Allston and Brighton," said Councilor Liz Breadon. "This project of both local and regional significance will not only improve multimodal connections to meet the needs of public transit riders, cyclists, and pedestrians while stewarding the City's goals toward a modal shift away from automobile dependence, but will also unlock land available for the future development of an affordable, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable community."

The site tour and funding application represent important steps in what will be a years-long planning and development process. The project is currently engaged in the federal environmental permitting process. MassDOT expects this work to continue into Fall 2022.

As the infrastructure project moves forward, the City of Boston will lead a substantial public process to shape any development by Harvard University and others. Future growth in Allston must bring significant benefits to the community, including affordable housing, open space, and opportunity for inclusive economic development. All private development on land or air rights parcels will be subject to the City of Boston’s development review process.

“Together with state, city, and community partners, Harvard University shares a vision for the Allston Multimodal Project that will advance mobility, connectivity, and regional economic growth while also addressing civic and community needs across Allston-Brighton, making it an outstanding candidate for federal grant funding,” said Katie Lapp, Executive Vice President, Harvard University. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with partners to support a Project that will transform obsolete transportation infrastructure on a brownfield site into an inclusive and vibrant mixed-use neighborhood anchored by a truly multimodal West Station.”

“Infrastructure has divided Allston in half and divided us from the Charles River for decades. This project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reknit the neighborhood together, restore the riverfront, and provide better connectivity for all modes of travel,” said Jessica Robertson, Lower Allston resident & member of the Allston I-90 Task Force. “We're eager to see this project move forward, and improve the experience of everyone from those traveling on the interstate highway system to those simply trying to cross the street.”

“These new developments mark a significant step forward with advancing the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project. Massachusetts and its capital city are well positioned in competing for over one billion in federal funding,” said Rick Dimino, President and CEO of A Better City. “This transformative infrastructure investment will improve mobility, regional and local transit service, and will restitch the urban fabric of the Allston community to the Charles River. It’s also clear that this project will strengthen the state’s and region’s economy and Boston’s national and global economic competitiveness. We are pleased to be part of a broad coalition in support of this vision and thank the Mayor and her administration for the work to make it a reality.”

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