Freshgate Tunnel

.Welcome to CITY minus TRAFFIC, a preliminary set of ideas for reshaping substantial parts of Allston, Brighton, Cambridge, and Fenway near the Charles River, presented here as a site plan.

Picture, in your mind, the banks of the Charles River... Now, try to imagine how this area, the "Central Park of Boston," would be transformed if all automobile traffic were removed. If there were no cars on a long stretch of the Charles River banks — if parts of Storrow Drive and Soldiers Field Road in Boston and of Memorial Drive and Fresh Pond Parkway in Cambridge were to simply disappear — then this central area of the city could be put to different uses.

.The primary new use suggested here is open space. Additionally, many suggestions for institutional, community, and other types of expansion are presented in some detail. But how is it possible to get rid of this traffic? The Charles River parkways are vital routes into and out of the city, aren't they?

Replace long stretches of the Charles River parkways (Storrow Drive, Memorial Drive, Soldiers Field Road, and Fresh Pond Parkway) with a deep-bore tunnel running in a straight line under the river banks.


If this traffic could only disappear, seven miles of public land along and beyond the Charles River banks would be transformed. This transformation would reshape the city, affecting institutions, infrastructure, land values and many neighborhoods near the Charles. Western towns and commuters who live in them would also feel the effects. Clearly, removing the traffic along the river would be a big change, but would it be for the better?

Why speculate about this now?
In November (2003), Harvard University formally initiated an extraordinary planning effort called the Allston Initiative. It is a plan to build several new campuses on some 200 acres that Harvard has acquired in Allston and Brighton over many years. (Harvard President Summers' speech about this initiative is available on the Harvard site.)

The Allston Initiative would be very different if the parkways dividing Harvard University from the Charles River were removed. The benefit for Harvard of having no traffic between its old and new campuses is clear, but other neighborhoods, communities, and institutions would also be affected. Public review of Harvard's planned expansion into Allston will eventually occur, but a broader civic disucssion should begin now. The communities that will be most affected should be looking beyond the Allston Initiative to their own visions for the future of the Charles River banks.
Harvard has sought community suggestions for the Allston Initiative.

This website provides several such offerings. If the suggestions to be found here manage to elicit other ideas that
emerge for discussion in public forums, this website will have fulfilled its main purpose.