Preview: Rutherford Avenue/Sullivan Square Meeting Tonight

BTD to present third, "hybrid," option for the future of Rutherford Avenue.

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.

Dan May 10, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Sorry to say nothing really changed. The so called change was something we had seen before, Austin St. over pass is now locked in Vs a surface design. This design was shown at the last meeting and most people at that meeting agreed it was better than the surface option. What many fail to see as the correct answer is to do a tunnel between Austin St and Sullivan Sq with the surface design on top so the commuter traffic is out of the way and not creating the noise & pollution (as was done in the North End). OK, how do we get to were we need to be here? First, we will need to live with the current trench as is and have as much of the surface design as possible put into place, then when money and the will catch up do the right thing and build the tunnel. If we fill in the current under pass trench and do the surface design we LOSE and we will never be able to construct a tunnel in the future. Noise & pollution is the big concern of many of the surface group I wish they could open their eyes just a bit here to see the tunnel gives them what they want. If we have all of the traffic on the surface they will get all of the noise and pollution (sorry thats the physics of how things will work here). If you go up I-93 you will see panels being put up to contain the noise of the highway that will be your only option here. Some people stated the open trench we have now is very noisy which is why they think the surface is better, the lack for any sound control makes it bad.
Dan May 10, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Either an open top tunnel (Grilled ceiling) or a solid top tunnel will control noise and pollution. A open trench without any sound control is bad and a large quantity of cars, trucks and buses on the surface stoping and going will be worse! Don't let them tell you otherwise. I will gladly point you to references and examples which you can see (and hear) in person that support what I'm saying. One last point here - A bit of greed is showing its head here. If the surface design goes forward without the tunnel the city gains land which they can turn around and sell. Which on the surface I don't have a problem with. The rub here is the land freed up here would prevent future options like light rail down Rt99 from Everett into the city proper as the right of ways would be blocked by the new buildings. So, it's important the city hold the land as green space and not develop it.
nick czech November 29, 2012 at 06:27 PM


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