I lived in Boston’s North End while attending Northeastern University in 1983. Everyday I walked under the Central Artery, a huge freeway built through the center of the city that separated the North End from the downtown. While I was there the decision was made to place the freeway underground. Much has been written about all the problems with the “Big Dig” project, but it seems to me this is a lot nicer then my daily walk about 30-years ago. Time flies!
In San Francisco I worked with several groups arguing to remove the Embarcadero Freeway after the 1989 Earthquake. It was a huge battle, but when the freeway finally came down I think everyone was convinced that it was the right decision. Today it’s hard to imagine the freeway ever existed.
Later, as Executive Director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, I suggested studying placing some of San Francisco’s very heavily travelled arterials underground (e.g. Oak/Fell in the Western Addition and 19th Street in the Sunset). The idea was to remove the traffic from the street and give the space back for pedestrians, transit and limited auto access. The underground roads would be funded by congestion-based tolls. The idea – even studying it – was heavily opposed by many in the environmental community, and nothing came of it.
I still like the idea of placing cars underground and making the drivers pay for the privilege. It always makes me mad that public transport is forced underground in most cities. It may be faster there, but access by passengers is complicated, it’s way more expensive than surface based transit (leading free marketers to say public transport is too expensive!) and public transport passengers (people doing something good for the environment!) are forced to sit in dark tunnels, while car drivers enjoy the sunshine.
More photos of the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston on my Flickr account.
In September I visited Boston to talk with people in the city and at MIT about GreenCityStreets. Lots of interesting discussion and ideas to follow up on in 2012. I had some time to go down memory lane, and walked through the Public Garden on a beautiful fall day.
When the weather was good I used to walk home from Northeastern through the Public Garden to my apartment in the North End. It was a great way to unwind from my Masters Thesis research. My route took me through the Fenway, people watching on Newbury Street in the Back Bay, then through the Public Garden, crossing the street into The Commons, then past the Park Street MBTA station, through Government Center, by Haymarket, then under the Central Artery to Salem Street.
The Public Garden was always a highlight in early spring and summer. Green lawns with lots of flowers, generally the Swan Boats were stowed away for the night, and a cool breeze. All my Boston Public Garden photos on Flickr.
Here’s another Boston aerial photo. I am working on my settings, let’s see if this one fits in the Blogger format.
Flying out of Boston last week I had a window seat and it was a clear day. Here’s a photo of downtown Boston and the new bridge. More photos on my flickr site.
I just returned from a trip to the USA. Starting with my hometown of Buffalo, then Troy NY (for a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute reunion), on to Boston, then San Jose and finally San Francisco. Lots of traveling.
Last Monday was a real adventure: my sister dropped me off at the commuter rail station in Worchester MA, took the train to Boston South Station. From there I took the new Silver Line bus rapid transit (BRT) line to the airport. The photo above is of downtown Boston from the airplane.
The Silver Line has a neat system where they send people heading to the airport with baggage to one end of the platform enabling them to board the bus first and put their baggage on the racks. Then the bus pulls up to the main platform and all the other riders board (there are four stops before the airport).
My only complaint was that the signs in South Station were not easy to read/understand. Specifically, they have a very small silver airplane symbol on a maroon background … this is supposed to tell you to go this way to the airport. I went up and down the escalators several times looking for the Silver Line to the airport – and, when I – a fairly seasoned public transport user and traveler – have this kind of problem I am sure I am not alone!
The flight to San Francisco was fine. From San Francisco airport I headed south to San Jose via Caltrain. More in my next post!