By Mary Z. Connaughton
FRAMINGHAM – A storm’s brewing for MetroWest and Worcester commuters, the intensity of which we have never seen.
As part of the plan to straighten the MassPike in Allston, the elevated portion of the road known as the Boston University viaduct will be demolished and the roadway will be rebuilt at-grade.
The abutting Soldiers Field Road and the Paul Dudley White bike path in the general vicinity of the project will also be affected.
The project is estimated to begin sometime after the summer of 2021 and complete in eight to ten years, but we know what can happen to estimates given our not-too-distant experience with the Big Dig.
During a large portion of the construction, the Pike will go from four lanes to three, both eastbound and westbound. So if you think driving to work now is tough, hold tight to your steering wheel – it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
You would think that the construction would present an opportunity to attract drivers to the commuter rail and that there would be more frequent trains to accommodate the many who simply cannot afford to spend that much time in traffic. Doing so, would not only decrease congestion, it would have a positive impact on the environment.
Sadly, I learned Wednesday night at the Allston Multimodal Task Force meeting that such an obvious, commonsense approach to mitigating the construction congestion is not presently on the table due to concerns with the Charles River.
In fact, the current staging plan does not offset the negative construction impact on MetroWest and Worcester commuters at all. It actually deepens our pain by reducing the Worcester rail line from two tracks to one track in the project area for what could be five or more years. That means an inbound train will have to wait for an outbound train to pass and vice versa.
The current plan for the Worcester line is simply unacceptable. Not only would our commutes be impacted, but our property values would be, as well. Additionally, and the success of the new transit-oriented development projects in downtown Framingham could be compromised.
I spoke out against the plan at the meeting and I am hoping more of us would do the same by contacting our legislators and writing letters to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Many voices makes a huge difference.
Mary Z. Connaughton is a Framingham resident and the Director of Government Transparency at Pioneer Institute.