MassDOT Adds Pedestrian-Bicycle Underpass to Anderson Bridge Renovation Plan

by EJN Comments (0) Articles, Press Release

MassDOT, local advocacy groups join together for bicyclist and pedestrian safety as well as green commuting

BOSTON-Tuesday, August 5, 2014-MassDOT announced their support for an underpass on the Boston side of the Charles River at the Anderson Memorial Bridge today, emphasizing bicyclist and pedestrian safety throughout the region’s burgeoning pathway network. The underpass will be permitted as part of ongoing construction at the Anderson Bridge. The underpass will separate bicyclist and pedestrian traffic from automotive traffic at a busy intersection, improving safety across all modes of transportation.

“We are happy to support the underpass through the Boston abutment of the Anderson Memorial Bridge and engage in the process necessary to ensure the feasibility of this project,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “If permitting is successful, we are committed to building this underpass. Initiating the permitting process reaffirms the Patrick Administration’s goals of provding safe, healthy and sustainable transportation choices.”

MassDOT has contracted Gill Engineering to develop 25 percent design plans for the Anderson underpass on an expedited timetable. This work also includes sketch plans, a cost estimate for the construction and obtaining the permits necessary to allow for construction. The work will also require filing with MEPA, authorization from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Massachusetts Historical Commission and other agencies. Vetting the proposal through these agencies will result in a true determination of the full extent of any environmental or historical impacts there may be, and ways in which those impacts can be properly mitigated.

“If this process demonstrates construction of an underpass on the Boston side of the Anderson Memorial Bridge is feasible,” added Davey. “We would be supportive of future efforts to also include underpasses in the River Street and Western Avenue Bridges as part of the effort to rehabilitate those bridges.”

In addition to improving safety, the underpass will provide unobstructed access to two portions of the Doctor Paul Dudley White Bike Path, which are currently separated by the bridge and street rights-of-way.

MassDOT is working closely with community and advocacy groups on the planning and design of the underpass, which will run near the busy intersection of North Harvard Street and Soldiers Field Road. Community leaders are excited about the prospects of a safer, continuous path network.

The underpasses advocacy effort is larger than any one group and has included work by dozens of elected officials, citizens, and advocacy groups. The Boston Cyclists Union, the Livable Streets Alliance, Cambridge Running Club and the Charles River Conservancy have played key roles. Davey’s statement was made in a letter to those groups, which had met with him in early July.

“Creating a continuous bicycle and pedestrian pathway will provide proved safety, access to the River’s Edge and green-use priority. The Anderson Bridge underpass is the first step towards completing this goal along the Paul Dudley White Bike Path,” said Charles River Conservancy Board Member Ron Axelrod, whose organization has advocated for underpass construction. “Secretary Davey has set a great example in his support of underpasses and we are pleased to be taking the next step.”

“As daily runner and driver of the river-paths, I am thrilled that MassDOT has committed to deliver the safer, less congested intersections the underpasses will provide,” said Jon Paz of the Cambridge Running Club.  “With the discussion around fitness and public health, these underpasses are a win-win opportunity for the state and the city to improve our infrastructure for the safety and enjoyment of drivers, runners, cyclists, and families!” he said.

“I want to thank Governor Patrick and Secretary Davey for this gift to residents and visitors alike,” said Gabriela Romanow, an environmental activist and Cambridge resident living next to the Charles River who had joined with the groups to meet  with with Secretary Davey. “As the improved river path will enhance our quality of life today and for generations to come.”

“We are delighted to hear of the commitment by Secretary Davey and Governor Patrick to support the bridge underpasses for the Charles River Pathway network,” said the Boston Cyclists Union stated. “We look forward to a continuous, pleasant, safe, and comfortable path along one of our most precious natural resources. This path will allow bikers of all ages and abilities to enjoy their parkland!”

The LivableStreets Alliance issued a statement, saying it, “is elated that these underpasses will be constructed as part of MassDOT’s program to restore the Anderson, Western Avenue and River Street bridges and improve surface-level crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.  The underpasses are an important component of making these intersections safer for everyone.  The uninterrupted continuity of the Paul Dudley White Path along the Charles River will delight an increasing multitude of users.”

“MassBike applauds MassDOT’s endorsement of an underpass along the Charles River at the Anderson Bridge,” said MassBike Executive Director David Watson. “This decision demonstrates MassDOT’s commitment to healthy transportation and the goal of tripling the share of biking, walking and transit trips. We look forward to a continuing collaboration with MassDOT and others to achieve a safer and more efficient bicycling network.”

“These underpasses will greatly improve our experience as we pass under the bridges without having to cross dangerous intersections, and they will expedite the traffic of cars and others going over the bridges,” said Jack Wofford, mediator and former transportation official in the Sargent and Dukakis administrations who was among the group meeting with Davey.

“We applaud Secretary Davey’s decision to add underpasses to the Anderson project plan,” said Charles River Conservancy President Renata von Tscharner. “This will greatly improve the enjoyment and safety of river-path users.”
“I’m pleased that MassDOT is taking this important step to add an underpass to the Anderson Bridge, which will improve safety and access for pedestrians, bicyclists, and runners,” said State Representative Jay Livingstone, whose district includes Boston and Cambridge on both sides of the Charles River. “I hope it serves as a model for similar underpasses at the Western and River Street Bridges so there can be a continuous path from downtown Boston to Watertown.”

WalkBoston issued a statement saying, “[We] enthusiastically supporting the construction of the underpass for walkers, runners and cyclists beneath the Anderson Bridge, as well as the suggestion that evaluation of this underpass might lead to similar underpass routes beneath approaches to the River Street and Western Avenue Bridges.”

The Anderson Memorial Bridge is a key Charles River crossing connecting Cambridge to the Allston neighbourhood of Boston. Completed in 1915, the bridge is currently undergoing a major renovation that will bring it up to Federal Highway Administration standards for vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle access, as well as American Disabilities Act and Massachusetts Architectural Access Board standards.

The Paul Dudley White Bike Path is a 17-mile bike path extending from Boston’s Museum of Science to Watertown Square along both sides of the Charles River. The path runs through sections of the Charles River Reservation separated by road and bridge crossings.

To read Secretary Davey’s letter as well as more about underpasses advocacy, please visit our Advocacy webpage at:

About MassDOT

In 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) was created to unify the state’s various transportation agencies. MassDOT now includes the Highway Division, the MBTA and Rail Transit Division, the Aeronautics Division, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  MassDOT is committed to providing a safe and reliable transportation system to all those who travel in the Commonwealth and works to deliver excellent customer service. MassDOT has been nationally recognized for its innovative approach to transportation, including the Accelerated Bridge Program, the “Where’s My Bus and Train?” apps and “Fast 14″ work.  For more information, visit MassDOT at our website:  blog:, or follow MassDOT on twitter at   and Facebook at

About the Charles River Conservancy

The Charles River Conservancy is dedicated to the stewardship, renewal, and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, for the enjoyment of all. The Conservancy promotes the active use and vitality of the parklands, increases recreational and cultural opportunities, and works to ensure the beauty and integrity of this extraordinary public resource.

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