October 15, 2020
Dear Secretary Pollack:
Please accept my sincere appreciation for advancing a version of the City of Boston/A Better City design as the all at-grade alternative to carry forward in the upcoming review process for the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project. We look forward to continuing to work with the MassDOT team to further refine the all at-grade concept—and to ensure that it is ultimately selected as the preferred alternative. As such, we offer the following suggestions:
First, we urge you to adjust the cross-section dimensions of the all at-grade alternative to move the northern point of Soldiers Field Road away from the edge of the river. As we’ve previously communicated in our formal correspondence to your team, we believe there are several ways to accomplish this, including retaining the existing lane widths on Soldiers Field Road, adjusting the shoulders on I-90, and/or working with Boston University to shift the alignment to the south and away from the river.
Second, we recommend that the Throat Area Alternatives Analysis spreadsheet immediately be opened up to an iterative and transparent public review process. As you may know, upon releasing the spreadsheet, MassDOT did not provide any back-up documentation, assumptions, or data to explain the conclusions presented in the spreadsheet and we are officially requesting that all relevant back-up analysis and documentation be made public within the next 48 hours to facilitate robust public review. We ask MassDOT to engage in an authentic, transparent public engagement process during which the agency receives and responds to public feedback. It is extremely concerning and disappointing that the agency has described the current public comment period as an “information sharing” exercise. This is not consistent with the transparent and deliberative process that the state has committed to uphold. The Commonwealth is poised to spend more than $1 billion in taxpayer and toll payer dollars on this project and the process must therefore meet the public’s interest. After six years, now is not the time to rush through the preferred alternative public process.
Third, in terms of substance, the Throat Area Alternatives Analysis spreadsheet itself is riddled with bias and inaccuracies and appears to treat all elements and measures with equal weight. Key concerns include the following:
In summary, we implore you to amend the all at-grade alternative to limit impacts to the Charles River, release relevant back-up documentation associated with the Throat Area Alternatives Analysis spreadsheet, amend the Throat Area Alternatives Analysis spreadsheet for accuracy, and recommit to upholding a truly transparent and deliberative public engagement process with a complete public comment period.
As you know, on September 23, 2020, the City of Boston sent a letter reaffirming its firm opposition to the highway viaduct and strong desire that the all at-grade option be selected as the preferred alternative. This letter is enclosed for your reference. At this juncture, we do not understand how MassDOT and the FHWA can proceed with a highway viaduct option in defiance of the host jurisdiction’s wishes.
This project will shape our region for the next century—it is our shared legacy. Together, we have an unparalleled opportunity to realize a truly transformational project that will advance accessibility, equity, and sustainability for the City of Boston, the region, and the Commonwealth.
Thank you for your steadfast leadership.
Richard A. Dimino
President & CEO
cc: Administrator Jeff H. McEwen
Mayor Martin J. Walsh
Chief of Streets Chris Osgood
BPDA Director Brian Golden
MassDOT Board of Directors MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board