The Transportation Committee of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council will host a meeting with residents and senior representatives of the Boston Transportation Department tonight at the new Knights of Columbus at 545 Medford St. tonight at 7 p.m.
The meeting, to discuss plans for the redevelopment of the Rutherford Avenue/Sullivan Square area, is the latest in a series of hearings designed to put a development plan in place that residents can embrace.
Two options have been floated over the past several years, and it appeared the “surface option,” which would eliminate the underpasses on Rutherford Avenue, was poised to win out, but following a backlash from some in the community, including state Rep. Michael Capuano, the City of Boston has a new plan.
A third “hybrid option,” which would meld elements of both previous proposals, is the latest attempt to build a consensus in order to move the project forward. The plan would incorporate elements of the “surface option,” favored by some as a way to make the street more bike and pedestrian friendly while beautifying the neighborhood, and the “tunnel option,” which advocates claim would better suit the high-volume traffic in the area.
Rutherford Avenue is a wide, two-lane roadway where motorists routinely travel at excessive speeds, residents say. The “surface option” opponents fear that drivers will try and bypass traffic lights set to be installed on Rutherford Avenue under the plan, causing traffic to increase throughout the rest of the neighborhood. “Surface option” supporters say the chance to make the roadway work for the community is too good to pass up.
Under the “tunnel option,” Rutherford Avenue would retain underpasses at Sullivan Square and Austin Street, while the “surface option” would retain only the Austin Street underpass, but create parks along the neighborhood side of the avenue, on Austin Street and in City Square.
The community must reach a consensus before the project moves forward, BTD director of planning and policy Vineet Gupta told Emerson College’s Journalism Students’ Online News Service last month, adding that the sooner that happens, the greater the chance funding will still be available.
Tonight’s meeting represents a crucial step in this process.
Whichever option you support, make sure you come out to the new K of C tonight at 7 p.m. and weigh in this matter, as whatever decision is ultimately reached will surely change the face of the neighborhood for years to come.