City Tour questions:
Is that a big hill on top of the
Mass Pike interchanges and railroad yards?
Yes it is. In fact there are two hills shown
- a big one just south of the River Street Bridge, above the
Mass Pike and railroad yards, and a smaller hill just north
of River Street. In the drawing, each of the contour lines
is ten feet higher than its outboard neighboring contour line.
The smaller hill might be solid. The larger hill would be
at least partly hollow - on top of a strong concrete ceiling
built above the railroad yards and Mass Pike interchanges,
so that all the existing transportation systems would remain
where they are. The hills as drawn are not very steep - their
northeastern slopes are shallow enough that a person in a
wheelchair could go straight up the hill. The hill design
could of course be far more interesting. The hills are proposed
for the following reasons:
- Digging this tunnel would create millions
of cubic yards of dirt. This is where the dirt goes.
- The hills would mean that the new Harvard
campuses upon them would be visually connected with Harvard
Square. A pedestrian at the new campus would be able to
see over the Business School to Harvard Yard, and perhaps
feel more like part of the whole.
- Similarly, the larger hill would mean
that the new Harvard campus at its summit would be visually
connected with Beacon Hill and the State House - the "University
atop a Hill."
- It can be expected that Harvard will be
asked to either build or make available some of their Allston
land for additional neighborhood housing. Hillside housing
is particularly pleasant housing, since it can have views
and breezes (examples: Beacon Hill, Bunker Hill, Corey Hill).
Some of the ideas in the City Tour
are sketchy, especially in the park designs. Why?
The landscape designs are deliberately diagrammatic.
For instance, much of the new parkland should probably leave
plenty of the existing road surfaces just as they are for
play, but this drawing shows little winding paths in place
of all removed auto roads. The idea was to make the basic
intent clearer, since it might be harder for viewers of this
website to imagine all the new parkland as auto-free if the
drawing still showed existing roads where the new parks are.
Consequently the landscape designs shouldn't really be considered
"designs", but as visual symbols for parkland. They
are diagrammatic. (Same for the tunnel design. See "Is
such a tunnel technically feasible?" below. )
Does this plan interfere with the vehicular
access of any retail businesses?
This scheme will interfere with access to
no retail business except Mahoney's Garden Center at the corner
of Memorial Drive and Western Ave in Cambridge. The Mahoney's
site is owned by Harvard, and will be shut down soon to make
room for new Harvard facilities. In an agreement with the
community (called Riverside), this is planned for development
with non-retail uses including
parkland and housing.
If this scheme interferes with access to any retail business,
it was an oversight. The only retail use that is even near
a tunnel ramp is the first gas station on the north side of
Fresh Pond Parkway, west of Larch Road. The drawing depicts
non-interference, but western entrance to the tunnel would
need to be carefully designed to retain all exiting vehicular
access for this gas station.
Does this plan cut off any existing entrances/exits
to the existing Storrow or Memorial Drives?
Yes, as follows:
- In Allston, a pair of existing surface
parking lot entrances/exits would be removed from the west
side of Soldiers Field Road just north of the Herter Center.
- Two are removed from the eastbound side
of Storrow Drive in Brighton - one exit to and one entrance
from Boston University, just to the east of the B.U. Bridge,
at University Road.
- Access for eight streets is removed to
and from Memorial Drive in Cambridge
six between Western Avenue and John F. Kennedy
- Hingham Street
- Akron Street
- Flagg Street
- Copperwaithe Street
- De Wolfe Street
- Plympton Street
and two between Kennedy and Mount Auburn
- Ash Street
- Hawthorne Street
(The drawing does show a narrow roadway remaining
between and a little to the east of Ash Street and Hawthorne
Street, to maintain the equivalent of the existing on-street
parking at this location.) Some of the eight streets shown
blocked to Memorial Drive could instead be given long entry
ramps to the tunnel, if this were deemed preferable.
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