- Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Media Contact for MassDOT Advisory: Boston, Bowker Overpass Rehabilitation Project
Jacquelyn Goddard, Director of Communications, MassDOT
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), state and local elected officials and community partners announced that the Bowker Overpass Rehabilitation Project have now secured the funding needed to move forward.
The effort is a combination of two projects that are currently in design that will replace the structurally deficient Bowker Overpass over I-90, replace and the reconfigure Storrow Drive eastbound bridge over the Bowker ramps to better manage traffic patterns, maximize parkland, and reestablish the connection between the Emerald Necklace and the neighborhood.
"We are pleased to announce that we have been able to secure the important funds necessary to move forward with this transformative project," said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. "We are grateful for the coordination and partnership of local leaders, the community, and advocacy groups that will lead to this bridge replacement, the reconfiguration of Storrow Drive's eastbound ramps, the re-establishment of the connection between the Emerald Necklace and Charles River Esplanade, and a safer area for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers."
"With critical funding in place, advancing the design of these two projects will allow us to improve the condition of our infrastructure, make travel safer with a modern design, and expand the footprint of accessible green space in the area," said MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. "In addition, this offers the opportunity to restore and revitalize a key segment of the iconic Emerald Necklace."
The first project will focus on replacing the structurally deficient Bowker Overpass over I-90, Ipswich Street, and the MBTA's Worcester Commuter Rail line. On its current schedule, the project will be advertised in early 2024 and is expected to cost $59 million based on current estimates. The project will take approximately 2.5 years to complete once construction begins.
The second project will consist of the replacement and reconfiguration of the Storrow Drive eastbound bridge over Bowker ramps. Based on current estimates, this project is expected to cost $120 million and will be advertised in early 2027. The project will take approximately 4 years to complete once construction begins.
"I'm grateful for the creativity and collaborative spirit that MassDOT has brought to this project," said Senator William Brownsberger "I'm in it for the long haul to make sure we can all enjoy the great park and watershed improvements that this project offers."
"I'm excited to see the realization of this transformative project that will improve our infrastructure and add acreage and greater connections to our parklands," said Representative Jay Livingstone. "I greatly appreciate MassDOT's commitment to this project and it's ingenuity."
"I am so thrilled that this project will reconnect Olmsted's Emerald Necklace at Charlesgate, finally relinking the Fens to the Esplanade," said Councilor Kenzie Bok, Boston City Councilor, District 8. "The Muddy River is one of America's original green infrastructure projects, and by daylighting the river once again we will improve its water quality and create new parkland for Bostonians to enjoy. Increasing multimodal access and continuity for our green spaces makes Boston a better place to live and visit. I'm so grateful for our state partners at MassDOT and DCR, and to the community advocates of the Charlesgate Alliance for their years of hard work for a greener, more sustainable community."
MassDOT, DCR, State and Local Officials worked tirelessly with various advocacy groups to not only replace a structurally deficient bridge that has a limited remaining service life but to provide many benefits.
MassDOT and DCR will coordinate to replace and reconfigure the ramp system to better manage traffic patterns and maximize parkland. The projects will also restore usable open space along the Charles River and day light a key segment of the Muddy River, resulting in a number of environmental benefits including improved stormwater management.
"The Department of Conservation and Recreation oversees close to 500,000 acres of land throughout the Commonwealth. Our goal is to maintain these resources for the public, and we are especially proud to be part of the Bowker Rehabilitation project because of the tremendous value this will bring to our park system," said DCR Commissioner Doug Rice. "We want to thank our partners at MassDOT for their vision, and also acknowledge the support of our partners at the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, and the Charlesgate Alliance. And note the contributions of Sen. Brownsberger and Rep. Livingstone, who were instrumental in moving this forward."
The Emerald Necklace is chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways in Boston and Brookline. These projects will reestablish the connection of the Emerald Necklace that was severed in 1951. While reconnecting this section, the projects will increase the number of connections from Beacon Street to the Esplanade. Multimodal considerations have been taken and the project will create separated bike and pedestrian lanes on the Esplanade.
"The Emerald Necklace Conservancy is thrilled that MassDOT, with the leadership of our elected officials, is making significant investments in this area's infrastructure, at a time when cities look to their green infrastructures to combat the ongoing challenges of climate change. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redesign vehicle infrastructure in a way that will reconnect the Emerald Necklace with several iconic greenspaces after decades of broken links in the regional transit and parks networks," said Karen Mauney-Brodek, President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.
"The reconnection of the banks of the Muddy River to the Charles River Esplanade provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore and create parkland, make regional park connections for pedestrians and bicyclists, and prepare our parks for a changing climate. The Esplanade Association is proud to stand in partnership with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the Charlesgate Alliance, and park stakeholders across the region to support and advance this project to reconnect the Emerald Necklace and the Esplanade through Charlesgate. We are grateful to MassDOT for the opportunity to be deeply engaged in the project and to continue to advocate for designs that provide the maximum possible public realm improvements and restore acres of parkland on the Charles River Esplanade. By reconfiguring and dismantling outdated highway infrastructure at the Bowker Overpass, MassDOT is making progress towards forward-looking thinking about these historic green spaces," stated the Esplanade Association.