In 2016, approximately 3 years after the Surface Option was selected for Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square, Mayor Walsh and the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) re-opened the planning process and reintroduced the concept of underpasses at Sullivan Square and Austin Street. In May 2017, BTD announced it was now choosing to go with a plan that rebuilt underpasses at both locations at a cost yet to be determined. This decision was made despite the fact that outside experts at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) found a negligible difference between the Surface Option and the Underpass Option in terms of regional traffic.
We continue to support the Surface Option for Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue and concur with the letter submitted by the RCIC to the Lower Mystic Regional Working Group (LMRWG) dated October 2, 2017. We find that:
The City’s analysis was flawed in numerous technical respects;
The City clearly focused the majority of its effort on the Underpass Option and did not meaningfully attempt to refine the Surface Option (which we recognize is needed);
City data reveals that the difference in travel time from Sullivan Square to City Square between the two options is only 3 minutes in the year 2040 at the morning and afternoon peak, assuming all worst-case-scenarios (in terms of development, investment in mass transit, etc.). Given the potential margin for error, this is an unacceptably small gain for everything Charlestown must give up;
The Underpass Option is not consistent with regional and local goals of promoting transit use, and pedestrian and bicycle activity;
Any underpass will be expensive to build and maintain, vulnerable to flooding, occupy land area that could be used for green space and flood storage, and will reduce the space to be made available for new development (including affordable housing), pedestrians, and bicycles.
The City was premature in selecting the Underpass Option when it did not fully explore the Surface Option and did not have information regarding the cost of both options.
We call on the LMRWG, MassDOT, the MPO, and Mayor Walsh to consider the technical issues identified by RCIC, and to undertake the alternatives analysis requested in the RCIC letter.
If you would like more information, please visit the Rutherford Corridor Improvement Coalition web site: http://www.rcic-charlestown.org
Please indicate below if you are willing to have your name listed as a supporter on the RCIC web site - the more names we have listed, the more seriously agencies and elected officials will take our request.