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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Conservation and Recreation
(D.C.R) has invited public dialogue regarding its plan to repair and renovate the Storrow Drive underpass adjacent to the legendary Boston Esplanade, at the Charles River Basin.
The Esplanade is one of the most well-known and dearly loved urban parks in the nation: Each July 4th, at the center of the Esplanade, Arthur Fiedler, and now Keith Lockhart, conducts the Boston Pops Orchestra from the world-famous Hatch Shell.
The DCR has discussed the idea of potentially rerouting of traffic ONTO the Esplanade for 2-4 years, to accommodate this construction repair-work. DCR's idea has been described as:
an idea that is inappropriate and should be considered only as a last resort after all other options have been fully evaluated and proven unfeasible...The possibility of placing both lanes of traffic underground, enabling a more gracious entryway into the park, should be fully explored.
Patrice Todisco Boston Globe OpEd January 4, 2006
The DCR has 4 options they want the public to consider. But each one of DCR's options requires temporary rerouting of traffic for years. It isn't a certainty that Storrow Drive traffic would be rerouted onto the Esplanade. Perhaps a combination of traffic mitigation measures - phased construction, night detours, traffic rerouting, and Mass Pike toll reduction, incentives for public transportation use - would preclude this grim possibility.
Either way, Boston & Cambridge residents, visitors, and businesses would need to accept heavier traffic loads: in Boston on Beacon Street, Commonwealth Ave, and Boylston Street, Marlborough Street etc; and in Cambridge on Memorial Drive, Vassar Street, Pleasant & River Streets, Prospect Street, Mass Ave, Cambridge Street, etc.
It will be a mess: either a mess of the Esplanade for its 100th Birthday in 2010, or a mess of Boston & Cambridge Streets, or both.
Instead of these grim choices, possibilities exist to have none of these 3 outcomes, but instead to have the opportunity to:
- Enlarge the Esplanade to include parkland removed in 1952 for Storrow Drive,
- Restore the Esplanade to Helen Osborne Storrow's 1928 vision,
- Remedy water-table problems that plague the Back Bay, and
- Revitalize the quality of the Charles River Basiin's hydrology.
HOS.Assn (Helen Osborne Storrow Tunnel), a voluntary association of people interested in expanding open space in the city, is interested in engaging in dialogue with the DCR and with other civic groups.
We propose options that will not require an assault on the Esplanade. Moreover, our proposal would restore the parkland that was part of Helen Osborne Storrow's vision when she donated $1 million in 1928 to create one of the most highly used and valued public spaces in our city.
We propose building a new tunnel to completely replace the existing Storrow Drive underpass. But also to completely remove Storrow Drive, in its entirety, before the Esplanade. Such a new tunnel could be:
- A deep-bore tunnel (db) like the Red Line subway tunnel between Harvard Square & beneath Porter Square, Cambridge, to Davis Square, Somerville), or
- An Immersed Tube Tunnel (ITT) like the Ted Williams Tunnel, or
- An expanded-tube-tunnel (E.T.) - a 21st century technology.
Either of these designs would permit traffic to remain undisturbed just where it is, until a relatively brief construction interval when entry ramps are built to the new completed tunnel, and are attached to streets and to the remaining existing parkways.
Following their experience with the Central-Artery/Ted-Williams-Tunnel project (the Big-Dig), Bostonians are understandably wary of tunnel projects from both the practicalities of construction and financing points of view. The website www.HOSITT.us adresses "Big Dig exhaustion" and many related issues.
We need a few energetic, clever, committed volunteers who are really good with team-work design to help the HOSITT organizing effort. Currently HOS-Assn. is eight-armed. Each arm is a wiki. Five of the eight wikis are open to new applicants/participants (the majority will be reviewing in a few days).
For descriptions of all eight HOS-wikis, please visit www.Hositt.us/ .
For a good description/ definition of wiki, visit http://wiki.org/wiki.cgi?WhatIsWiki .
For the Wikipedia article about HOSITT, visit
Do visit our website, and scrutinize its tone to discern if your & our styles may match: www.HOSITT.us is still rough but the info is sure there.The tunnel designs shown are rigorous & beautiful. The website itself has so far been a lower priority, but it is tactfullyirreverent. We are certain that both tact & irreverence are necessary - but neither (even combined) is sufficient - for this organizing effort.
- Chris Weller
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