Transportation & Infrastructure

From the Archives: The Sumner Tunnel

Monday, July 9, 2012
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July 5, 2012

sumner tunnel

 
Greater Boston has partnered with the Boston Globe to bring you a weekly feature called "From the Archives." Each Wednesday on Greater Boston, we will show one to two photos from the newspaper's archives. This weekly feature offers a glimpse into Boston's past.
 
This week, we look at … a key transportation artery.

In 1934, the Sumner Tunnel opened beneath the harbor, connecting East Boston and eventually Logan International Airport to the rest of the city. In this photo, automobiles enter the Sumner on April 24, 1958. Almost exactly a year after this picture was taken, on April 30, 1959, more than 1,000 people attended a groundbreaking ceremony for construction of a second tunnel to run parallel to the then–25-year-old Sumner. The Lieutenant William F. Callahan Tunnel opened on Nov. 11, 1961. And finally the third harbor tunnel, the Ted Williams Tunnel, opened in 2003, a substantial outcome of Boston’s Big Dig. 

Mass. Senate Passes MBTA 'Bailout' Bill

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Tuesday, June 19, 2012
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June 20, 2012
 
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON — If your sports team is losing, you fire the coach. That’s what Sen. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham) proposed doing with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority during a June 20 fight over a proposed $51 million bailout of the struggling agency.

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House Passes MBTA Bailout Bill

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Wednesday, June 13, 2012
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June 13, 2012


STATE HOUSE, BOSTON —  The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill June 13 giving the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority the money it needs to avoid drastic cuts … for now.
 
House lawmakers agreed to bail out the struggling MBTA with state funds. The bill would transfer nearly $50 million to the transit agency from a fund that had been intended to help reduce air pollution.

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Planned Makeover for Roxbury Receives Mixed Reactions

By Adam Reilly   |   Wednesday, June 13, 2012
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June 13, 2012

melnea cass blvd.

The Melnea Cass Boulevard Silver Line stop in 2009. (Grk1011/Wikimedia)


ROXBURY, Mass. — The quest to rejuvenate Roxbury’s Dudley Square neighborhood just got a major boost. The city has okayed $95 million in new development along Melnea Cass Boulevard, which could transform that stretch from an afterthought to a destination. But while many in Dudley Square welcomed the project — not everyone was on board.
 
Today they’re a couple of scruffy empty lots bracketing Melnea Cass Boulevard, which thousands of commuters use every day to get on and off Interstate 93. But as Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts head Darnell Williams looked around — he saw potential.
 
 “Boston is such a walkable city — right now I’m looking at the shadows of the Prudential, the Hancock Building, Jim Rice Field. Fenway Park is 8 minutes from here. We’re really centrally located and it just makes sense,” Williams said.
 
The city seemed to agree. Boston gave the go-ahead to two developers who plan to transform this area by building a hotel, restaurants and residencesand expanding the popular Tropical Foods supermarket. If all those cars driving past started to stop, the project and the neighborhood could thrive.
 
“Very few of those cars stop to get birthday candles or birthday cards or to have a bite to eat. If we can change that, then that will be a very good thing for Roxbury,” Williams said.
 
The new development was part of a bigger effort to rejuvenate Dudley Square, which used to be a thriving retail hub but has struggled for decades. While there was plenty of local enthusiasm for the current development push, there was also skepticism.
 
Kathy Kim, the daughter of a local business owner, worried that new development won’thelp the average man and woman on the street.
 
“We want developers that understand our community and the struggles we’ve been facing in this community for the last 40 to 50 years ... we need to have CORI-friendly jobs,” Kim said. “We need to have jobs for the residents who’ve been in the community, who have built the foundation of Dudley Square.”
 
Andy Finkel, whose brother owns a local clothing shop, said the new plans might not be ambitious enough.
 
“Anything in the Dudley Station Roxbury community is great given the huge unemployment problem and lack of money and business in the community,” Finkel said. “The BRA needs to have some sort of a master plan that has a hub here in Dudley Station, where it used to be really, really vibrant."
 
But others like Roxbury resident Anjail Mohammed said that on balance — Dudley Square seems to be on the right track.
 
“I think it’s going in a positive direction,” she said. “The only thing I’d like to see removed is the strip club down the street.”
 
For his part Williams was happy to accentuate the positive including the promise of much-needed jobs.
 
“I don’t know if I have definite numbers, I don’t want to speculate,” said Williams. “We’ve got a lot of jobs that should happen on the construction side, post-construction, post-management, that should benefit folks who live here.”
 
Big plans for a neighborhood that could use a boost.
 


Big Dig Needs $1M Repair

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Thursday, June 7, 2012
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June 8, 2012


big dig

Route 93 under Boston, part of the Big Dig. (Rene Schwietzke/Wikimedia)

 
BOSTON — Officials at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation say Boston's Big Dig needs another million-dollar fix: the concrete on some of the on-ramps and off-ramps is crumbling and needs to be replaced. The concrete was supposed to last for 30 years.
 
Highway administrator Frank DePaola explained on June 7 that the Big Dig contractors decided to pave the road surfaces in concrete, which is used in drier and warmer sections of the country, instead of in traditional New England asphalt. Now the surface concrete is separating from the structural concrete slabs below it.
 
“I believe they used experience from other parts of the country that concrete pavements are commonly used in the South and Southwest," DePaola said. "It's a very durable material but in the Northeast with our weather conditions and our high temperature, it's a mistake. If I was in charge of the project at that time, we would not have used that material."
 
DePaolasaid the initial repair work will cost taxpayers $200,000 — money that’s badly needed in the rest of the state.
 
“I would rather be spending this money on other improvements. We have miles of road all over the state that need repavement. We have bridges that need to be repainted. We have bridges that need to be replaced," he said.
 
Officials said they may ultimately need to do about $1 million worth of repaving — but that the money will probably come from a trust fund that was created through a settlement with Big Dig contractors.
 
The Big Dig has so far cost taxpayers more than $15 billion. The project has been plagued by cost overruns, fatal construction flaws and lax oversight.

Highlights from Yelp Reviews of MBTA Stations

By Danielle Dreilinger   |   Friday, May 18, 2012
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Second in a series

red line

South Station. (ockam/Flickr)

 
May 18, 2012
 
BOSTON — Yelp isn't just for retail establishments and restaurants: Some people use the open review site as a home for their musings and warnings about Greater Boston's public transit.  First we looked at bus routes you might never have heard of. Now we turn to six stations you almost definitely know.

N.B.: Opinions are those of the Yelper and do not necessarily reflect the views of WGBH, WGBH News or anyone who isn't running late and fed up.
 


1. Porter Square

(35 reviews, 4 stars)
 
Brian D., Roxbury: You know that scene from "28 Days Later" when the army lady and those 2 kids have to get down the broken escalator to escape certain death by starving zombies? Yeah, they could have filmed that at the Porter Square T Station. ...

Wow. 

Vertigo. (3 stars)
 
Leighann F., Astoria, N.Y.: Things I can accomplish while riding the escalators down into the depths of the Porter Square T Station:

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About the Authors
Sarah Birnbaum
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.
Danielle Dreilinger Danielle Dreilinger
Danielle Dreilinger is an author and news producer for WGBH.org.



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