Thursday, January 11, 2007

Harvard 02134 and the challenges it brings to the T

Harvard University on Thursday finally announced their plans for Allston which they say will take 50 years to implement. What Harvard intended to do has been under speculation for nearly a decade and at one point there was a plan leaked to the Boston Globe devised by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas that would involved changing the flow of the Charles River to unify the campus. Horrified Harvard administrators suppressed his report

Donovan Slack of the Globe wrote on
Harvard University today released a sweeping plan to transform a 250-acre swath of Allston into an expanse of academic facilities, student housing and a new public square that officials said would be a twin to Cambridge's Harvard Square across the river, with a plaza, retail stores, theaters and a new art museum.

The university's 50-year master plan, submitted to Boston planning officials today, also calls for putting 20 acres of Soldiers Field Road underground in order to keep traffic out of view and replace surface roadway with tree-lined promenades.

Harvard officials said the project is likely to cost several billion dollars. The first phases, including a major science building and a museum that would house collections now at Harvard's Fogg and other art museums, are expected to get underway before year's end.

If you look at Page 42 of the master plan Harvard is asking the T for more frequent service on bus routes 66 and 86 (no mention of the 70) and possibly including Allston in the proposed "Urban Ring" transit corridor the T has dreamed about for years.

The scope of this project boggles the mind and increased bus service will not be the answer as anyone who travels that corridor now will attest. If Harvard actually intends to make "Barry's Corner" into a full blown retail, residential and entertainment twin to Harvard Square it will almost demand some sort of light or heavy rail solution.

One thing is certain. Harvard WILL proceed with this project and the T has to address the transit challenges it will bring in very short order. For the transit dreamers this project opens any number of possibilities for T expansion. For example you could consider expanding the Blue Line to go through Lechmere or Kendall, continue on to Inman, through Harvard and under the Charles to Allston, Coolidge Corner, Brigham Circle to Dudley. Splitting the Red Line at Harvard is another possibility.

In any event the clock started to tick when Harvard announced their plans. The T needs to start working on this project now and with the clout of Harvard University behind it the long dreamed crosstown subway can become a reality.


Train Mon! said...

Why should Harvard wait on promises from the T before beginning its expansion/revitalization. It already owns half of Boston and Cambridge anyway and has shown it can do whatever it wants with the land--why not just expand on its own public transit service?

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry in advance for the unfortunate undergraduates who will be forced to live in this barren, inconvenient new campus.

And a fake replica of Harvard Square that will be artificially constructed by Harvard's high-paid architects? What are they smoking?

Tom said...
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Tom said...

I was into the Urban Ring idea until I found out what it entailed. It makes more sense to me to build a subway connecting Charlestown, Sullivan Square, Union Square, Harvard Square, Harvard Ave, Coolidge Corner, Brookline Village, Roxbury Crossing, Dudley Square, and UMass Boston.

Anonymous said...

Before we build a subway to replace the 86, 66, and 15 buses, why don't we build one where it's actually needed? Like along the B line, and the 39, 57, 28, 1, and 111 buses.

Tom said...

Responding to the above poster: Those are all needed, as well. I didn't mean to imply that a ring through Allston was the most important thing for the MBTA to be doing. Regardless, though, of which subway expansion is most pressing, the Boston subway system does need a lot of work and expansion. And, with Harvard's plan to redo North Allston, yet another project should be added to the backlog.