Latest idea for Mass. Pike project: elevate the bike path along the Charles

Could the path alongside the Charles River be elevated?
Could the path alongside the Charles River be elevated?Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File

State officials said they will consider an alternative plan for the $1 billion-plus reconstruction of the Massachusetts Turnpike through Allston that would take the current bike and pedestrian path along the Charles River and put it on a elevated track.

It’s the latest twist in a long-running effort to plan the massive highway job, and could be something of a compromise between two dueling positions: whether to replace the current viaduct behind Boston University with another elevated section, or put the highway at ground level, as promoted some activists and neighbors.

A team of engineers and consultants hired by the state to evaluate options recently advised that the grade-level option would be difficult to get permitted, because it would likely require building over or into the river. The consultants did not make a final recommendation on which option the state should pick, but did suggest a third idea: put Soldiers Field Road on a viaduct while bringing I-90 to ground level.

The nonprofit organization A Better City, which has pushed to eliminate the viaduct, volleyed back another idea of its own — putting the current path above Soldiers Field Road along the Charles.


On Monday, Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said she asked the consultants to review this option as well, and will await the final report before she makes a decision.

Tom Nally, A Better City’s planning director, said the idea is modeled off the High Line park in New York City, which travels along parts of lower Manhattan on an old elevated railway.

Jack Wright, the leader of the engineer team, cautioned the elevated path could run into the same permitting risks, because the support structure would be close to the river’s edge.

“This is very close to the river’s edge in this scheme, so we have not yet had a chance to analyze that,” he said.


Adam Vaccaro can be reached at adam.vaccaro@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamtvaccaro.