Road Not Yet Taken
Twenty percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from passenger vehicles (cars and light trucks).
A network of 160,000 miles of interstate highway enables the auto-dependent land-use patterns that generate 3 trillion miles of vehicular travel each year.
The pressing climate change agenda, as well as the Obama administration’s commitment to a new generation of infrastructure, suggests that it is time to think about ways to change our relationship to highways.
Presented here is a variety of formal and programmatic speculations about one of those roads – the I-90/Mass Pike corridor, from the I-95 interchange in Auburndale to Allston. Recent discussions about privatizing this highway and aggressively selling off the air rights make this study immediately relevant. A reconsidered I-90 Corridor would acknowledge the fact that the corridor terminates at Harvard’s doorstep on the Charles River and creates the edge of Allston, where Harvard’s future growth will take place.
This work is not meant to suggest a single comprehensive design for the corridor, but rather several strategies. Although sometimes complementary and at other times disparate, all of the speculations share this underlying supposition: that the amount of space devoted to the automobile will be reduced as public transportation increases and as vehicles become smaller. The reclaimed real estate can support new agendas for compact redevelopment, ecological restoration, and increased mass transit.
The corridor becomes the locus for the next several generations of regional growth in the larger study area. Growth is accommodated in existing or new centers along the corridor. This development is supported by increased passenger and freight service along the existing rail corridor.
Most of the road is reclaimed for green space of different kinds, from natural areas to community gardens to recreation spaces. Natural systems devalued in the typical suburban landscape are restored to a new level of continuity.
The corridor becomes the centerpiece of an enhanced network of connections between existing and new services. The connectivity helps sponsor redevelopment along major corridors and in development centers off of the corridor.