About the Project
The I-90 Allston Interchange Improvement Project is the result of the need to replace the structurally deficient, functionally obsolete Allston Viaduct and the opportunity to dramatically reduce the footprint of the existing Allston Interchange toll plaza made possible by the implementation, through a separate project, of All Electronic Tolling (AET). The southern limit of the project includes the CSX Beacon Park Rail Yard, just north of the Boston University Athletic Center. The northern limit of the work is in the vicinity of the I-90 Allston interchange ramps.
The project creates an opportunity to dramatically improve livability and connectivity for residents of the Allston neighborhood while preserving and enhancing regional mobility through improvements to I-90 and its abutting interchange and the creation of a new stop on the Worcester/Framingham Commuter Line to be known as West Station. During the spring, summer, and fall of 2014, MassDOT and its design team worked closely with a task force composed of local residents, advocates, representatives of local institutions and businesses, and officials both elected and appointed, in concert with the Allston community at-large to develop a concept for the replacement of the Allston Interchange which includes:
- Complete streets improvements to Cambridge Street.
- Enhanced bicycle and pedestrian connectivity among the different parts of Allston touched by the project area and the Charles River.
- A significant transit enhancement in the form of West Station and Commuter Rail Layover which will provide access and operational improvements to the commuter rail and an intermodal focal point for local bus service.
- A realigned I-90 mainline, straightened to take full advantage of the safety enhancements made possible by AET.
- A replaced I-90 Allston Viaduct to ensure that this section of a critical regional highway can continue to safely and efficiently carry traffic to and from Boston.
- Connecting roadways between Cambridge Street and I-90 built, to the fullest extent practical and safe, on complete streets principles to clearly signal to motorists leaving the highway that they are entering a community.
Taken together, these elements represent a package of improvements which seeks to make I-90 and its abutting connections a less intrusive neighbor to the Allston community while still doing its crucial work as an Interstate interchange.
The project’s conceptualization phase was launched with a public information meeting held in April of 2014. Over the course of 2014, the project team held 10 task force meetings, four public information meetings, two in Allston, two in Cambridge, a briefing for the Allston Civic Association, and a cycling tour with interested task force members. The result of this work, and significant efforts by MassDOT’s design team, was a concept, known as 3J which was submitted to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for MEPA review. A MEPA site walk and scoping session was held in November, 2014 and a MEPA certificate issued in December, 2014.
Since December 2014, the project team has been working diligently to address the questions laid out in the MEPA certificate and to develop the data needed to begin again an informed, engaged conversation with the Allston community. A public information held on June 17, 2015 will mark the beginning of the preliminary design phase which will refine the concept articulated in phase one, into a preferred alternative for review by the appropriate state and federal authorities in an Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment or EIR/EA. This stage of project development, which is currently anticipated to last through mid-2016 will also include a reactivated I-90 Allston Interchange Taskforce.
The elevated viaduct carries the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) through the Allston/Brighton area with Cambridge Street and Soldiers Field Road to the north and Brighton Avenue to the south. This section of the Massachusetts Turnpike has an Average Daily Traffic volume of approximate 144,000 vehicles per day. The viaduct is the primary East-West route between Western Massachusetts, Worcester and Boston, and experiences extensive vacation traffic during the weekends in the summer and winter. Average daily traffic volumes for the Massachusetts Turn pike west of the Allston Interchange are 142,000 and east of the Allston interchange are 147,000. Average daily traffic volumes for Cambridge Street are 38,000, Soldiers Field Road are 66,000 and the Allston Interchange Ramps are 66,000.
The I-90 Allston viaduct is nearing the end of its useful lifespan and must be replaced to prevent the bridge from becoming structurally deficient. The replacement of the bridge provides an opportunity to reconfigure the Allston Interchange which dates to the 1965 extension of the Massachusetts Turnpike to downtown Boston. This project is in alignment with MassDOT's plan to convert the Massachusetts Turnpike to all electronic tolling which will operate at highway speeds.
Construction and Traffic Management
MassDOT and its project team understand that construction staging and construction period traffic management are major concerns for the Allston community. Through the phase of project development beginning in summer 2015, strategies for managing construction in a way that will safeguard the accessibility and livability of the neighborhoods abutting the project will be developed.
If you have any questions, need further information, or want to be added to future informational mailing lists, please contact:
Nathaniel Curtis, Howard/Stein-Hudson, Public Involvement Specialist
Tel: (617)482-7080 x236
Patricia Leavenworth, PE, MassDOT, Chief Engineer
10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA, 02116
Attn: Bridge Project Management – Project File No. 606475