Memorial Drive Demonstration Project, Phase II

A DCR History Parkways Initiative

This project is the second phase of DCR’s planned rehabilitation and restoration of 1.5 miles of Memorial Drive between the BU Boathouse and the Longfellow Bridge, as recommended by the Master Plan for the Charles River Basin of 2002.  The goal of the project is to reestablish the parkland atmosphere for pedestrians and motorists to enjoy, honoring the intent of the original Olmsted design, and to provide  safety upgrades, in accordance with current standards.   The project was the subject of an extensive public process during the original design phase, and the final design remains reflective of the input received.  Phase I construction, completed in 2004 with $4 million in state funding, narrowed Memorial Drive between Fowler Street and the Longfellow Bridge and provided approximately two additional acres of green space and parkland area along the Charles River.   Supplementing that investment, in July 2010, DCR provided $2M to replace more than two miles of embankment fencing along the Charles River. 

Project Scope

Phase II of the project, extending along Memorial Drive from the BU Boat House to the Longfellow Bridge, builds upon the parkland and roadway safety improvements achieved in Phase I. Construction, which began in the late fall of 2015 and is anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2016, will result in a new ten-foot-wide, paved, multi-use path along the Memorial Drive Roadway and a six-foot wide pedestrian path of stabilized aggregate along the riverbank edge. This phase of the project will also include the planting of approximately 316 new trees, in light of the planned removal of trees that are either decaying and hazardous or located in the area of the new pathway.  (The replacement ratio is 2.25 new trees for each one removed.)  Hundreds of new riverbank shrubs and groundcover plantings will enhance the parkland visitors’ experience, as will the installation of several new shade shelters and benches, replacement of additional deteriorated embankment historic fences, and installation of historically-appropriate, energy-efficient LED lighting. Restoration of sections of historical granite blocks located along the river’s edge and installation of new granite “sitting” boulders will provide vantage viewing of the Charles River and Boston skyline.

The estimated cost of Phase II of this project, fully funded by DCR, is $6.77 million.

From a roadway perspective, the project includes the installation of new drainage components to alleviate flooding and improve storm water quality, masonry restoration of the Memorial Drive underpass, resurfacing of a select section of Memorial Drive, and installation of new pedestrian traffic signals, crosswalks, and handicapped-accessible sidewalk ramps. 

Project Schedule

  • Fall 2015 – Installation of existing tree protection
  • Late fall 2015 to spring 2016 – Memorial Drive drainage improvements
  • Winter 2016 – Traffic signal improvements, installation of underground lighting conduits, and tree removal
  • Winter 2016 to spring 2016 – Construct riverbank improvements, multi-use path, and walking path between Vassar Street and Fowler Street
  • Spring 2016 – Construction multi-use path and walking path between Fowler Street and Massachusetts Avenue
  • Spring 2016 – Repave Memorial Drive between Vassar Street and Audrey Street
  • Summer 2016 to fall 2016 – Construction multi-use path and walking path between Massachusetts Avenue and the Longfellow Bridge
  • Fall 2016 – Complete landscape planting installation.

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