Busy stretch of Mass. Pike, Soldiers Field Road to undergo $1.1B renovation

BOSTON (WHDH) - In a project that could span nearly a decade, part of the Mass Pike that runs through Allston will be reconstructed at ground level and travel lanes for a section of Soldiers Field Road will be elevated along the Charles River after construction crews demolish the existing Interstate 90 viaduct at the west entrance to Boston, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack announced Thursday.

By essentially flipping the current alignment, a new “hybrid” viaduct at the “throat” of Soldiers Field Road will allow the state to keep infrastructure away from the Charles River, create more park space and create more room to separate pedestrians and bicyclists, according to MassDOT.

MassDOT had been considering several options in recent years before settling on a final design.

“After evaluating the extraordinary recent work of the Independent Review Team, studying the idea to place all transportation elements at-grade, considering other hybrid proposals, and weighing valuable stakeholder and public input, I have selected the Highway At-Grade Hybrid With Elevated Soldiers Field Road Preferred Alternative for the so-called ‘throat’ portion of the project,” Pollack said in a statement.

An environmental impact report is expected to be filed by the end of the year and a contractor will likely be hired in late 2020, officials said. Construction could take as long as eight years to complete. The project is expected to cost about $1.1 billion.

As part of the redesign, the potential for public transit service to run through the throat of the project between Allston and Cambridge will be preserved by using the Grand Junction Railroad Corridor. A north-south bicycle and pedestrian connection between Allston and the Charles River parks will be established. Breakdown lanes will also be added along the Turnpike and Soldiers Field Road.

Pollack plans to have a project team look into building a new Commuter Rail station, which would be called West Station.

Land owned by Harvard University, MassDOT, the MBTA, and Boston University will be opened up for development by straightening the Turnpike.

Pollack said MassDOT considered rebuilding the Turnpike without a viaduct but they didn’t want to extend infrastructure “up to the bank of the Charles River.”

The current I-90 Viaduct carries about 150,000 vehicles into and out of Boston each day and it is the primary route of vehicular travel from Western Massachusetts and Central Massachusetts into the city. The viaduct, while currently safe for travel, is outmoded and structurally deficient, according to MassDOT.

MassDOT says it spends about $800,000 each year to maintain the viaduct in usable condition.

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