Gridlock: A Case for Alternative Transportation Improvements in the Seaport District


By Matthew M. Robare


Layersjpg

Above: A rendering of the $900 million, 1.3-million-square-foot Echelon Seaport mixed-use development, unveiling early 2020 in the Seaport District.


Boston’s Seaport Innovation District continues to be one of the hottest, most rapidly-developing neighborhoods in Boston, a successful, multi-phased initiative that has stretched the neighborhood’s transportation infrastructure to the limit years from full completion. The many cars heading to the Seaport consistently clog the neighborhood’s roads, and traffic frequently slows buses and private shuttles.


Improving transportation in the Seaport is clearly a must for the City of Boston at large, including developers, businesses, residents and tourists. With millions of square feet of new development coming to the Seaport over the coming years, it is essential that we construct higher capacity, more frequent public transit to accommodate the influx of thousands of new residents, workers and pedestrians. Moreover, the workers of today and the near future are very interested in having public transportation options. An Urban Land Institute poll of young professionals in Boston in 2015 found that having a work place close to public transit was very important to 78 percent, and 80 percent said that living near public transit was very important.  


Above: An aerial rendering of the multi-phased 7.7-million-square-foot Seaport Square development, located at the heart of the Seaport District, upon completion.


Currently, the Seaport is served by two Silver Line bus rapid transit branches: SL1, which goes to Logan Airport, and SL2, which goes to the Boston Design Center and The Innovation and Design Building, home to influential companies such as Autodesk, MassChallenge and Reebok. Bus Routes Four, Seven and 11 also serve the neighborhood; Route Four connects the Seaport to North Station, and Routes Seven and 11 connect the neighborhood to South Boston’s residential sections.


1jpg

Above: A rendering of the new Reebok headquarters in the Seaport District, which will open this Fall and house 700 employees.


One idea for new high-capacity transportation infrastructure in the Seaport that recently got some press is reactivating Track 61, a former freight line that runs from Cabot Yard along the South Boston Bypass Road and MassPort Haul Road, terminating at Boston Design Center. Part of the line is being reactivated to test the new Red Line cars being built in Springfield, which has prompted speculation. A few years ago, when Deval Patrick was governor, his administration looked into using Track 61 to run diesel multiple units from Back Bay Station to the Seaport and back, but that plan never went anywhere, and the line sits dormant to this day.


Ultimately, the biggest problem with Track 61 is that it lacks a direct connection to other lines. Connecting Track 61 to South Station or the Framingham-Worcester Line, which runs parallel to the Massachusetts Turnpike and is served by Back Bay Station, would require the track to meander through busy Cabot Yard. Furthermore, Track 61 lacks a second track, making scheduling problematic. Track 61’s route takes it near to Broadway Station and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, but doesn’t get closer to the developments on Summer Street or around District Hall than South Station is. Another issue is that Track 61 has three at-grade crossings, which could be problematic given the Seaport’s high traffic volume.


Above: A map of formerly proposed diesel multiple unit service between Back Bay Station and the Seaport via Track 61.


While Track 61 is somewhat impractical and would likely cost millions to bring to fruition, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other steps that can be taken to reduce the Seaport’s auto dependency and introduce new public transit options. As MassPort nears completion of the South Boston Waterfront Transportation Center, a new 1,550-space parking garage near the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) constructs a 550-space expansion of an existing garage at the Raymond Flynn Marine Industrial Garage, it is essential that we expand the Seaport’s public transit infrastructure to provide a space-efficient, environmentally-friendly alternative to driving. Otherwise, the extra spaces will likely just bring more people to the area by car, worsening traffic.


SBWTCJPG

Above: A rendering of the upcoming South Boston Waterfront Transportation Center, a 1,550-space parking garage located next to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.


Transportation improvements in the Seaport should start with the Silver Line, which runs through a tunnel from South Station to World Trade Center then operates in mixed traffic to Logan Airport and The Innovation and Design Building. Where Silver Line Way meets D Street, emerging out of the tunnel, there is a long traffic light that results in regular delays for the Silver Line. According to Ari Ofsevit, giving the Silver Line buses signal priority at this light would allow the MBTA to add three additional round trips at rush hour without increasing costs, a major capacity improvement.


2560px-Silver_Line_Way_station2C_March_2016JPG

Above: Silver Line buses at Silver Line Way station in the Seaport District. (Photo courtesy Pi.1415926535/Wikipedia via Creative Commons)


Additional capacity gains would come, as former state transportation secretary Jim Aloisi has noted, from dedicated, enforced bus lanes on Northern Avenue for the SL2 and Airport Road for the SL1; both roads are sufficiently wide to support a bus lane. Similarly, Summer Street could support bus lanes and signal priority for the Four and Seven routes.


Another measure recommended by Aloisi, among others, is repairing and reopening the Northern Avenue bridge, which has been closed since December 2014, as one for pedestrians and cyclists. Adding more bicycle infrastructure to the Seaport will allow more people to bike to the area, taking additional strain off of the neighborhood’s roads and public transit. Accordingly, protected bike lanes should be added to the neighborhood’s major roads, including Summer Street, Northern Avenue, Seaport Boulevard, World Trade Center Avenue, A Street and D Street, in order to encourage biking. Currently, the City plans to add protected bike lanes in Fort Point according to the Crossroads plan, but other projects are anticipated over the next 15 years in the Go Boston 2030 plan, and will compete with the rest of the City for funding.


1200px-USA-Old_Northern_Avenue_Bridgejpg

The Northern Avenue Bridge, now closed. (Photo courtesy Ingfbruno/Wikipedia via Creative Commons)


According to The Boston Globe, developers building in East Boston, along with some elected officials, want to see ferry service between the Seaport and East Boston, while the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority has studied service between the Seaport and Lovejoy Wharf. Wynn Boston Harbor, the casino resort being built in Everett, has also jumped on the ferry train, and intends to run service from the World Trade Center in the Seaport to their cove on the Mystic River.


Moakley_Courthouse_and_Boston_Harborwalk_02JPG

The Seaport Harborwalk next to the Moakley Courthouse. (Photo courtesy NewtonCourt/Wikipedia via Creative Commons)


Expanding ferry service, however, is probably not a great option for the MBTA. Ferries combine high operating costs, low capacity and infrequency with a high ticket cost. For many years, the MBTA Advisory Board has urged that the Authority’s existing ferry operations be transferred to MassPort, citing the aforementioned cons. While buses and bikes aren’t as sexy as trains and ferries, they get the job done simply and relatively affordably, helping reduce auto dependency and improving cities’ space and energy efficiency.

Related News

Naiop climate
Climate Change Resiliency & The Future of Development
Apr 12, 2018 - NAIOP Talks Climate Change in Boston
One dalton
March's Top New-Construction Multifamily Buildings in Boston
Apr 12, 2018 - Bldup.com's Top 10 Multifamily Buildings in March
Amazon fall river
The "Amazon Warehouse" Effect
Apr 05, 2018 - The "Amazon Warehouse" effect is fueling a significant bull market in th...
35 concord street
Downtown Framingham Property Acquired for $1.1 Million
Apr 05, 2018 - VTT Management has acquired the property at 35 Concord Street
250 apollo drive
250 Apollo Drive Acquired for $11 Million
Apr 04, 2018 - 250 Apollo Drive LLC acquires office building in Chelmsford
Screen shot 2018 03 27 at 6.19.13 pm
Hudson Group Proposes Leather District Hotel
Mar 27, 2018 - Proposal for a 250 room mid-rise hotel
East main apartments site map hi res
Jones Street Purchases East Main Apartments
Mar 25, 2018 - $53.6 million purchase of 188 multi-family complex in Norton
Wakefield vista apartments wakefield ma primary photo
Wakefield Vista Apartments Sell for $45.2 Million
Mar 24, 2018 - True North Capital Partners sells part of its multifamily portfolio
1
Ex-Uber CEO Joins City Storage Systems
Mar 22, 2018 - Travis Kalanick, the ex-Uber chief executive, has found a new job leadin...
Ferris development 32
Ferris Development Group to sell 575,000 sf of CRE portfolio
Mar 22, 2018 - Marlborough based, Ferris Development Group, plans to sell four office b...
Amazonseaport1
Amazon to Receive $5 Million Tax Break
Mar 20, 2018 - Amazon scores big tax break in the Seaport District
50 60 franklin street2 1024x681
Linear Retail Remortgages Downtown Crossing Space
Mar 18, 2018 - Linear Retail Remortgages Downtown Crossing Space
6a0105367f07d8970b01676716e323970b pi
Silver Line Gateway Opening
Mar 18, 2018 - Silver Line Gateway Opening
04 wg reebok hq 06 07 2372
Former Reebok HQ sells for $88 million
Mar 16, 2018 - Former Reebok HQ sells for $88 million
Img 0470
Boston Developments to Watch
Mar 15, 2018 - Boston Developments to Watch
Waterside place phase 1b 501 congress street seaport district south boston waterfront drew company hym investment group cbt architects project rendering
February's Top New-Construction Multifamily Buildings in Boston
Mar 15, 2018 - March's Top New-Construction Multifamily Buildings in Boston
Parcel 1b development affordable residential apartments housing courtyard marriott hotel bulfinch triangle related beal consigli construction
Top New-Construction Multifamily Buildings in Boston
Mar 12, 2018 - Below are BLDUP's most active* Boston-area new-construction multifamily ...
Isu4ffjcuml1qq1000000000
98-year-old North End building sells for $4 million
Mar 12, 2018 - 98-year-old North End building sells for $4 million
Algonquin club facade  boston
Hexagon Properties to purchase Algonquin Club for $25 million
Mar 07, 2018 - Hexagon properties to purchase Algonquin Club for $25 million dollars
Brookline 1240
Brookline brownstone sells for $6.160 million
Mar 07, 2018 - Brookline brownstone sells for $6.160 million
Pasted image 0
Amenities and Technology: The Evolution of Workspaces
Mar 07, 2018 - As the building boom continues across the country and in Boston’s backya...
Amazon boston seaport district office lease
Amazon to lease office space overlooking Seaport’s future Harbor Square
Mar 01, 2018 - WS Development has announced it is negotiating a lease with Amazon to le...
Screen shot 2016 11 30 at 9.44.21 pm
The Reshaping of Boston’s Historic Bulfinch Triangle Neighborhood
Feb 27, 2018 - Since the completion of the Big Dig and the removal of the elevated Cent...
The hub on causeway mixed use development bulfinch triangle boston td garden north station boston properties delaware north john moriarty and associates construction
Top Boston-Area New-Construction Development Projects of January 2018
Feb 16, 2018 - Boston real estate development is off to a strong start in 2018, with mu...
Bldup   naiop
BLDUP becomes NAIOP’s official media partner
Feb 07, 2018 - BLDUP strikes an exclusive partnership with NAIOP Massachusetts to be a ...
Starry marvell internet technology
5G next-generation internet technology takes a step forward with Starry-Marvell joint initiative
Jan 26, 2018 - Boston-based internet technology pioneer Starry and semiconductor soluti...
Hero 1500900 hq2candidates
Amazon shortlists Boston as one of 20 contenders to host second headquarters
Jan 18, 2018 - Amazon has released a list of 20 cities it is considering to host its’ $...
Six key upcoming boston area new construction office buildings
Six Key Upcoming Boston-Area New-Construction Office Buildings
Jan 15, 2018 - With influential global companies including General Electric and Philips...
Starry internet los angeles washington dc
Starry Announces Launch of Starry Internet in Los Angeles and Washington, DC
Jan 09, 2018 - Starry Announces Launch of Starry Internet in Los Angeles and Washington...
Boston s most exquisite new construction penthouse condominium residences
Boston’s Most Exquisite New-Construction Penthouse Condominium Residences
Jan 07, 2018 - Boston’s building boom has created several distinctive penthouse residen...
Boston property ventures bpv qcare quincy ma
Boston Property Ventures Donates Sleigh Full of Gifts To QCARE Families
Jan 05, 2018 - As a generous supporter of QCARE (Quincy After School Child Care), Bosto...
Top boston area new construction development projects of 2017
Top Boston-Area New-Construction Development Projects of 2017
Jan 05, 2018 - 2017 was a banner year for Boston real estate, a year in which multiple ...
Peter mcloughlin boston property ventures quincy ma
Boston Property Ventures CEO Peter McLoughlin takes initiative in early education leadership with election to QCARE Board
Dec 27, 2017 - Peter McLoughlin, CEO and Owner of Quincy-based residential development ...
Fan pier development seaport district boston
Next phase of Fan Pier would include housing instead of approved hotel, as well as office building
Dec 20, 2017 - Next phase of Fan Pier would include housing instead of approved hotel, ...
The residence at melrose station vinnin square lcb senior living callahan construction managers
Callahan completes two new senior living communities
Dec 15, 2017 - Callahan Construction Managers has completed two new senior living commu...
Cbi consulting vidaris
Vidaris, Inc. Acquires CBI Consulting
Dec 07, 2017 - New York City (December 7, 2017). Vidaris, a leading architectural consu...
Bostons coolest residential communal amenity spaces
Boston’s Coolest Residential Communal Amenity Spaces
Nov 28, 2017 - With Boston’s latest building boom, multiple residential apartment and c...
Rapid7 the hub on causeway
Boston’s Up-and-Coming Uptown Neighborhood: Why Bulfinch Triangle is Boston’s Next Tech Hub
Nov 26, 2017 - Technology companies take notice: with a diverse mix of existing and upc...
Top real estate development projects new construction buildings boston area october 2017 bldup
Top Boston-Area Developments and New-Construction Buildings of October 2017
Nov 13, 2017 - Below are BLDUP's most active* Boston-area real estate developments and ...
Union point weymouth rockland abington ma route 3 smart sustainable city
1,550 acres of smart, sustainable development taking shape at Union Point, just 12 miles south of Boston
Nov 06, 2017 - Located at the intersecting point of the towns of Weymouth, Rockland and...
Dudley square boston roxbury real estate development projects
Dudley Square: Boston’s up-and-coming development epicenter
Oct 31, 2017 - Geographically, the City of Boston’s center is Dudley Square, a storied,...
Top boston area new construction apartments for lease
Top Boston-Area New-Construction Apartment Buildings of September 2017
Oct 26, 2017 - Below are BLDUP's most active* Boston-area new-construction apartment bu...
Boston ma amazon hq2 bid
Envisioning Amazon in Massachusetts: An Overview of Sites Under Consideration
Oct 25, 2017 - Perhaps the most anticipated real estate related topic at the moment is ...
Top boston area new construction condominium buildings
Top Boston-Area New-Construction Condominium Buildings of September 2017
Oct 24, 2017 - Top Boston-Area New-Construction Condominium Buildings of September 2017
Top boston area new construction office buildings
Top Boston-Area New-Construction Office Buildings of September 2017
Oct 24, 2017 - Below are BLDUP's most active* proposed and upcoming Boston-area new-con...
Top new construction buildings boston area september 2017
Top Boston-Area Acquisitions and New-Construction Buildings of September 2017
Oct 22, 2017 - Below are BLDUP's most active* Boston-area real estate acquisitions and ...
Treviicos herbert hoover dike project south florida
Treviicos restores and secures Herbert Hoover Dike, crucial South Florida flood control system
Oct 19, 2017 - Treviicos restores and secures Herbert Hoover Dike, crucial South Florid...
Dji 0039
Treviicos improves New Orleans’ flood resilience with Southeast Louisiana drainage program
Sep 18, 2017 - Underground construction specialist Treviicos, headquartered in Charlest...
Pool image 2
Top 10 New-Construction Boston-Area Condominium Buildings
Sep 17, 2017 - Below are BLDUP's most active* Boston-area new-construction condominium ...
An overview of development transforming the ever dominant cambridge market commercial real estate
Cambridge in the Lead: An Overview of Development Transforming the Ever-Dominant Cambridge Market
Sep 17, 2017 - It should come as little surprise to anyone remotely connected with the ...
Boston area top new construction office buildings developments
Top Boston-Area New-Construction Office Buildings
Sep 14, 2017 - Below are BLDUP's most active* Boston-area new-construction office build...
Amazon hq2 second headquarters project
Amazon launches search for second North American headquarters, with Boston in the running
Sep 11, 2017 - Leading internet retailer and technology company Amazon, headquartered i...
Bldup.com banner %282%29
Top New-Construction Multifamily Buildings in Boston
Sep 01, 2017 - Below are BLDUP's most active* Boston-area new-construction multifamily ...
July 2017 bldup top buildings
July 2017's Top Buildings
Aug 02, 2017 - BLDUP's most active new buildings, development projects and developme...
Treviicos ground engineering construction 20th anniversary
North American ground engineering leader Treviicos celebrates 20th anniversary
Aug 02, 2017 - Treviicos, a national leader in ground engineering and construction loca...
City realty cambridge street harvard avenue franklin street braintree street allston brighton development acquisition
City Realty invests $15.5 million in Allston with acquisition of three developable parcels
Jul 25, 2017 - City Realty invests $15.5 million in Allston with acquisition of three d...
Avantage newbury caffe nero 205 207 newbury street
Caffe Nero coming to Avantage Newbury retail collection in Back Bay
Jul 20, 2017 - Caffe Nero coming to Avantage Newbury retail collection in Back Bay
Echelon luxury residences seaport square parcels m1 m2 cottonwood management celona capital regent hotels apartments retail development
June 2017's Top Buildings
Jul 10, 2017 - BLDUP's most active new buildings, upcoming development projects and dev...
Air rights development
Air Rights Development: Bridging old urban gaps with transformative impetus for positive advancement
Jun 22, 2017 - Air Rights Development: Bridging old urban gaps with transformative impe...
Union square somerville development us2
2.3-million-square-foot mixed-use development in Somerville’s Union Square moves forward with zoning approval
Jun 14, 2017 - 2.3-million-square-foot mixed-use development in Somerville’s Union Squa...
Boston landing
Infill Stations: Attainable Catalysts for Transformative Transit-Oriented Development
Jun 07, 2017 - It’s natural that extensions of rapid transit or commuter rail lines wou...
Connected buildings city of boston broadband internet wiredscore
City of Boston takes key step towards ensuring top-notch broadband internet connectivity in development projects
Jun 06, 2017 - The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) and the City of Boston’s...
Screen shot 2017 05 18 at 3.32.32 pm %281%29
The MBTA Blue Line: Overlooked Real Estate Corridor Turned Hotbed for Investment
May 18, 2017 - The MBTA Blue Line: Overlooked Real Estate Corridor Turned Hotbed for In...
Boston landing
Transit-Oriented Development Transforms Brighton’s Boston Landing
May 17, 2017 - With a new commuter rail station set to open this morning, Boston Landin...
Image1
Green Line Extension: A catalyst for sustainable mixed-use development
May 05, 2017 - After decades of delays and over a billion dollars worth of cost overrun...
Blue hill avenue station
Fairmount Corridor: Boston’s next transit-oriented development hotspot
Apr 27, 2017 - In the recent Go Boston 2030 transportation action plan, the City of Bos...
Wynn everett casino suffolk construction 1
Flush: Powering Boston’s landmark developments with state-of-the-art temporary restroom solutions
Apr 25, 2017 - As multiple large developments rise into Boston’s sky, Flush maintains a...
Divine design center 20m 8414
Envision your new interior at Divine Design Center’s new Battery Wharf waterfront showroom
Apr 04, 2017 - Envision your new interior at Divine Design Center’s new Battery Wharf w...
103 arch 153 milk 172 184 high financial district acquisition the hoffman companies boston
Hoffman acquires three Financial District buildings for $63.7 million
Apr 02, 2017 - Hoffman acquires three Financial District buildings for $63.7 million
Screen shot 2016 11 30 at 9.45.05 pm
The Developer's Agenda - Bulfinch Triangle In Focus
Mar 28, 2017 - Executive Luncheon This Thursday at the UMass Club
Screen shot 2017 03 14 at 2.47.23 pm
Municipal Harbor Plan approval enables two landmark waterfront developments, ensures long-term climate change resiliency
Mar 14, 2017 - The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) has approved a new Mun...
Flush
Equip your construction site with Flush’s deluxe restroom solutions
Mar 08, 2017 - Site management is a significant undertaking no matter the size and scop...
A new blueprint for the seaport active uses envisioned in updated seaport square plan
A New Blueprint for the Seaport: Active Uses Envisioned in Updated Seaport Square Plan
Feb 21, 2017 - Within the last 20 years, the Seaport Innovation District has evolved fr...
Fenway catalyzer 2017 diagram
The Fenway Catalyzer
Feb 07, 2017 - For decades, massive asphalt parking lots dominated the landscape around...
Walter harnett vidaris
Vidaris, Impacting Boston’s Future Skyline
Jan 29, 2017 - In Boston’s changing cityscape, Vidaris is helping to build the next gen...
Divine design center kitchen renovation boston
The impact of the kitchen in the modern home
Jan 29, 2017 - For those searching for a home or apartment, especially in Boston’s high...
Header devices 2
Simplify your service contracting operations with streamlined software
Jan 24, 2017 - As information technology continues to evolve, standards for service con...
99 chauncy 101 summer
TIAA acquires two key Downtown Crossing office properties from Synergy Investments for $75M total
Dec 09, 2016 - Synergy Investments has sold two key Downtown Crossing office properties...
Suburban workspace
Four New Suburban Boston Office Developments
Dec 07, 2016 - Boston's suburbs offer innovative office spaces set in a unique, relaxin...
Five new buildings topping off boston
Five New Buildings Topping Off
Nov 30, 2016 - 2017 will bring several exciting new buildings to Boston. These building...
Union square somerville new apartments condos retail development dellbrook jks construction
Dellbrook | JKS energizes Somerville’s Union Square with two new buildings
Nov 27, 2016 - Dellbrook | JKS has successfully completed two new buildings, Union Squa...
Apartments now leasing boston
Four Exciting New Luxury Apartment Buildings Now Leasing in Boston
Nov 17, 2016 - New luxury apartment buildings are rapidly rising into the Boston skylin...
5 companies logos
Five New CRE Technology Movers and Shakers
Nov 11, 2016 - Today's hot real estate market presents endless opportunity for innovati...
Columbus center original plan
Columbus Center
Oct 30, 2016 - Developers and MassDOT consider Columbus Center revival
One dalton
Boston's Most Demanded Building Amenities
Oct 06, 2016 - The country's most luxurious new development boast some extreme amenitie...
Bpda boston planning development agency
New identity for BRA
Sep 28, 2016 - Boston Redevelopment Authority rebranded Boston Planning & Development A...