Friday, January 7, 2011


By John G. Wofford
Conference on “The State of Environmental Justice in America 2007”
Howard University School of Law, March 2007
The transportation plan for the Boston area, which had been evolving since its formulation in 1948, called for major expansions of highways and rapid transit lines, and the curtailment of an existing commuter rail network. Its philosophy was that travel by auto and transit would compete for downtown Boston as a destination, and highways needed to be built to meet growing demand.

• Highways: The plan proposed three additional six- to eight-lane highways radiating into and out from a circular hub at the center, and a new highway tunnel to Logan Airport. Two of the new radial spokes were to be extensions of Interstate I-95, the so-called “Maine-to-Florida” highway. At one end, the Southwest Expressway would have extended I-95 from Route 128 (Boston’s circumferential highway about 10-12 miles from downtown) into the center of Boston; its site called for a highway through parklands called the Fowl Meadow and the Blue Hills at the outer end, and through dense working class and minority areas as it progressed toward the center. At the other end, I-95 North would have gone through mostly working class cities of Revere, Saugus, and Lynn, as well as one of the largest municipal parks in the country, the Lynn Woods, with its municipal reservoir. The Inner Belt would have connected those spokes and closed the circle of an inner ring road through the dense central part of the Boston area by linking to both ends of the already-built Central Artery; it would have gone through dense inner-city, mostly working class neighborhoods in the cities of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville as well as parklands along the Charles River and next to the Museum of Fine Arts, and an extension would have gone through the mixed-income South End.
• Rapid Transit: The existing Red Line of the subway system was to be extended at each end, and another rapid transit line, the elevated Orange Line along Washington Street, was to be torn down and the line relocated to an existing rail corridor serving Amtrak and commuter lines – improving service for some mixed income, inner-city residents, but removing it from an area substantially populated by low income and black residents. Commuter rail serving the outer suburbs was to be substantially reduced.

Green Line, Boston, image by wallyg
Aquarium Subway Stop, image by Nantaskart!
Brylaine, Boston, image by hesterjenna

more articles about urban transportation:

Rethinking Traffic Congestion

Making Transportation Sustainable: Insights from Germany

The Belt Line and Rail Traffic in Atlanta’s Urban Core

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