THE EXPLOSIVE growth of the Seaport District is threatening to strangle its streets with massive gridlock before it can reach its full potential — growth that Mayor Menino concedes “wasn’t supposed to happen until 2025.”
Unfortunately, this development is hardly a surprise to many observers of the long-planned expansion of the Seaport. In the early 1990s, planners had contemplated building a loop of the Red Line that would split off at South Station. Instead, they settled on an inadequate Silver Line bus tunnel that forces passengers into an awkward series of transfers to get almost anyplace else. Such a tunnel simply cannot handle the volume of traffic that a rail subway could.
By 2000, state officials were clearly concerned that the area would be overwhelmed by traffic once the neighborhood was fully developed. A Globe headline that year announced, “S. Boston traffic jams predicted.”
It’s now clear the area has been severely shortchanged by the state’s failure to provide adequate transit infrastructure early in the game. At the very least, the Silver Line should now be reconfigured into a rail subway and better integrated into the rest of the MBTA system, so that it can take people in the Seaport where they really want to go.
John Kyper is the chair of the transportation committee of the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club.