Greenway Plans Lagging, May Force Demolition of New Streets

Tue May 11, 2004 - National Edition

BOSTON (AP) Planning for a major portion of the belt of parkland that will replace the demolished Central Artery is so far behind schedule that streets bordering the parks will be finished first, and may have to be torn up and redone to accommodate the final park designs.

A Massachusetts Turnpike Authority official told a meeting of the Mayor’s Central Artery Completion Task Force last week that street construction would begin in two weeks, The Boston Globe reported.

Fred Yalouris, director of architecture for the Turnpike, said it would be cheaper to lay down asphalt and tear it up next year when the parks are built than to change a multimillion dollar construction contract that’s already been altered several times.

The Turnpike Authority, the state and the city of Boston have dueled for years over control of the 30-acre Rose Kennedy Greenway, which will snake through downtown Boston along the course of the old Central Artery highway.

Members of the task force agreed that the continuing dispute over who will own and operate the greenway has led to delays in determining details of its central portion – the Wharf District blocks, from Christopher Columbus Park to High Street.

The quasi-independent Turnpike Authority manages the $14.6 billion Big Dig highway and tunnel project, which replaced the raised Central Artery with an underground tunnel. But state and city officials say the Turnpike does not have any parks and is not equipped to care for the greenway.

Participants in the design process have disagreed over paving surfaces, lighting structures and placements of trees and shrubs, though the broad landscape designs for all three regions of the corridor - the North End, the Wharf District, and the Chinatown/Leather District - are almost complete.

The Big Dig is scheduled to be completed in 2005, and the public and open spaces connected with the project were supposed to be done by then.

But in the April 2004 annual report of the Central Artery Environmental Oversight Committee, which tracks the project’s commitments, executive director Anne Fanton wrote that in the Wharf District, "Disagreements over the design goals and details have made progress difficult. Construction is hoped for in 2006."