On December 12th, after years of advocacy led by A Better City and others, MassDOT formally identified the Modified All At-Grade Alternative as the so-called preferred alternative, selecting it as the design to advance through the environmental review process. In terms of next steps, MassDOT intends to formally submit the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Report (SDEIR) to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office in 2023. In parallel, MassDOT will advance the preferred alternative through MEPA’s federal counterpart. Read the MassDOT press release here.
The Modified All At-Grade Alternative enjoys the overwhelming support of a wide variety of stakeholders, public officials, and members of the Task Force that was established to advise MassDOT on the project. Building the project at-grade will support better connection between the neighborhood and the Charles River. This alternative is easier, faster, and less expensive to build and maintain than other alternatives. It also includes environmental improvements along the Boston bank of the Charles River, enhancing public access to the edge of the river within the project area.
A Better City submitted extensive comments on the content of the Notice of Project Change (NPC), seeking to include preference for the All At-Grade Alternative, to include reference to the People’s Pike “shared use path” and Agganis Way connection to the riverfront for potential incorporation in the preferred alternative, and to advocate for a longer public comment period—MassDOT ultimately incorporated these items into the environmental report. Additionally, upon review of the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs MEPA Certificate in September, A Better City prepared a list of critical concerns that need to be addressed in preparation of the SDEIR to guide continuing collaboration with other stakeholders. The concerns include development of West Station as a multimodal transit hub, support for construction of decking concurrent with construction of the transportation elements below, advancement of the pedestrian and bicycle network elements, and addressing permitting issues.
While support for this alternative is strong, we recognize that much work remains to be done during the next phase of state and federal environmental analysis. A Better City stands ready to continue our work in partnership with MassDOT, the City of Boston, and the landowners and stakeholders who will realize tremendous benefits for the City and the Commonwealth as this project is implemented.