$1B Mass. Pike Project Planned in Boston

Transportation officials announced Thursday a costly plan to make major changes to the Massachusetts Turnpike and Soldiers Field Road in Boston.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation confirmed that the project will rebuild the Pike at the ground level in the city's Allston neighborhood and create a new viaduct to elevate part of Soldiers Field Road over the highway.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said cost was not a factor and that all of the design options being considered were within the range of $1 billion to $1.1 billion, according to State House News Service. MassDOT said construction may take around eight years.

The plan was selected "despite the fact that it requires a long and complicated construction period that will disrupt travelers, whether they are in cars or trucks, on commuter rail, or walking or cycling on the Paul Dudley White Path," MassDOT announced.

"While every proposed design has its advantages and disadvantages, I believe this [model] can be permitted expeditiously, best balances the present-day and future mobility needs of all users, and protects and enhances as best as possible the natural and historic resources and public realm of the Charles River Basin and neighboring Allston community," Pollack said in a statement.

She noted how soon West Station, a planned stop on the MBTA Commuter Rail, could be built was a factor in the decision.

Additionally, MassDOT cited the plan's infrastructure being kept out of the Charles River, the potential for more parkland, and the ability to separate bike and foot traffic from vehicles.

Richard Dimino, CEO of A Better City, one of the groups on a task force focused on the project, said it would be a once-in-a-generation venture.

"There's over 200 acres of land that's going to be available for kind of like a new mini city," he said. "Today, in cities across the country and globally, you don't do a highway project without the importance of thinking about it in the context of city building and reshaping cities.

People in the area were split on the project.

"I've been driving on the Pike for about three years now, commuting back and forth to Allston for work, and it's always been a nightmare," said Kaitlin Sullivan of Boston. "It'll be nice to see some changes happen."

Hollace Johnson of Brookline was less hopeful.

"Of all my years being alive and seeing digs and no digs, I've never seen anything made better," she said. "It's going to be a nightmare."

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