When developers started planning an ambitious 2-million-square-foot “innovation campus” in the South Boston marine industrial park, they quickly ran into a big problem: how to get workers there.
Yes, the Silver Line runs nearby, but it’s getting maxed out during rush hour. Parking in the Seaport is increasingly difficult. And so is driving, as traffic congestion overtakes parts of the waterfront.
So you can’t blame the developers — Millennium Partners and its affiliate Cargo Ventures — for getting creative. They’re pushing ahead with plans to send thousands of commuters soaring over Summer Street in a $100 million gondola route that would link South Station with the industrial park. A second phase is also envisioned to connect with the traditional South Boston neighborhood south of the Reserved Channel.
They recently resolved one big conflict by altering their route to minimize the impact to the massive Omni hotel planned for land across the street from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. But plenty of challenges remain.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority is moving ahead with a ferry route that would link Fan Pier in Southie with North Station; the agency is now shooting to launch one by early fall, but much depends on the construction of a new dock at Lovejoy Wharf, near North Station, where North Shore commuters could board. And transportation advocates remain eager for some sort of bus-rapid transit system along Summer Street that would improve on the jam-packed No. 7 buses that run along the thoroughfare today.
There’s no one silver bullet to fix the Seaport’s congestion woes. But its vacant lots have all but disappeared under a relentless wave of construction. We’ll need solutions soon, or this development boom could come grinding to a halt.
Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @jonchesto.