Testimony to the MassDOT Board of Directors Regarding the 2024-2028 Draft Capital Investment Plan and the I-90 Allston I-90 Multimodal Project

Glen Berkowitz, Project Manager, A Better City

My name is Glen Berkowitz, Project Manager at A Better City. A Better City is an organization of nearly 130 business leaders that has long partnered with MassDOT to enhance the Greater Boston region’s transportation system, economic health, equitable growth, and sustainability.

I am speaking today about Agenda Item #7: the 2024-2028 DraS Capital Investment Plan, with two comments that relate to the Allston I-90 Multimodal Project.

First, the current FY23 – 27 CIP includes $91M to fund a contract to preserve the I-90 Viaduct in Allston. Two months ago, this Board voted to award this contract. This Board noted that new alternative staging concepts for the full Allston I-90 Multimodal Project had been prepared by A Better City and other stakeholders and that these new concepts should reduce schedule and cost and may allow for earlier removal of the Allston viaduct. This Board directed the Highway Division to consider the new staging concept and provide an update to the full Board within sixty (60) days or no later than its May meeting today.

At a Multimodal Project Task Force meeting three weeks ago, MassDOT announced it has tentatively decided to implement most of the new staging concept. We thank Highway Administrator Gulliver and the project team for this good news. This Board directed in March that it hears by today about recommendations for scope modifications to the Viaduct Preservation Contract to accommodate or incorporate these new staging concepts. We expect the Board to be told that the new staging approach should remove traffic from the I-90 Viaduct much earlier in the sequence of constructing the Multimodal Project. We trust that all can agree it makes sense to spend as little money as possible to preserve a viaduct that should now be able to be demolished years earlier than previously contemplated.

Therefore, we believe that the new CIP should reflect this modified Viaduct Preservation Contract. For example, we hope that the Board will be told that scope that would have excavated and replaced the existing median and its drainage system along the whole length of the existing viaduct can now be deleted from this contract, as those bridge elements do not need to be replaced under the new staging concept.

Second, we ask that you include additional funding in FY26-28 for the CIP that you will vote on today to finance the larger multi-billion-dollar Multimodal Project. At the recent Task Force meeting, MassDOT said the environmental review process will be complete in early 2025, and we believe the Multimodal Project's Design/Bid contract can be advertised and underway by late 2025. Given this new CIP runs through 2028, it should provide the full resources needed to fund the first three years of construction of this vital multi-billion-dollar highway, mass transit, pedestrian, bicycle, placemaking, open-space and environmental improvements project. As the Board decides today whether to release the DraS CIP, we ask each Board member to consider how much funding it contains for the Multimodal Project.

Thank you!

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