A long-stalled plan to modernize Morrissey Boulevard will get revived this spring as state and city officials combine forces to fund a $1 million engineering study over the next year aimed at advancing the project as a stream of massive new development projects loom on the not-so-distant horizon.
In addition, the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation plans to spend an additional sum this year to install new underground gate equipment along the vulnerable coastal roadway between UMass and Freeport Street. The work will also include improvements to sidewalks and fencing along the beachfront stretch of the boulevard.
The state's Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will take the lead on the study, which will include the whole length of Morrissey between Neponset Circle and Kosciuszko Circle, the rotary next to Moakley Park. The study will also include stretches of Day Boulevard and Old Colony Boulevard on either side of Moakley and part of Columbia Road west to Dorchester Avenue.
"I thank our partners at the Commonwealth for their shared commitment to improve mobility and increase resiliency along Morrissey Boulevard and at Kosciuszko Circle," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh in a statement announcing the plan this afternoon. "The results of this study will lead to near-term improvements and long-lasting solutions that will protect and support this neighborhood, its residents, and its businesses for generations to come."
Rep. Dan Hunt, who has been pushing for the Morrissey project and related improvements along this key corridor, said he was pleased to see this new city-state collaboration to focus on new elements of the plan.
"This is great news," said Hunt. "I appreciate the work that the mayor and governor have done on this. The $500,000 from the city will add to the upwards of several million from the state that have already been put into a plan to elevate Morrissey."
The state-led effort to redesign the critical coastal roadway, has not advanced beyond 25 percent design phase since 20177, after the most recent community meetings and comment period on the topic ended. The Morrissey redesign — at that time— was estimated to cost at least $40 million. Project managers have since said that they expect the construction will need to take place in phases over ten years, mainly due to financial reasons.
Scott Bosworth, the UnderSecretary and chief strategy officer at MassDOT, said that the study would likely begin in the coming weeks after a contractor is hired.
The city's Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) and MassDOT will both contribute $500,000 each to begin the planning effort.
“It’s been in our sights for many years," he said. "Within the next few weeks we will be launching the study. MassDot will lead the study in partnership with DCR and City of Boston.
"We expect the study to take about a year," Bosworth added.
Jim Montgomery, the commissioner of the state's Dept.of Conservation and Recreation said: “This is the net logical step in that process. We’ve done the design here and we want to look at the impacts on the entire corridor in terms of economic development and climate resiliency. It’s a great partnership and we’re excited about this."
"The city and state both see Morrissey Boulevard, regardless of economic development, as a major corridor," said Michael Christopher, a deputy director at the Boston Planning and Development Agency. "Economic development plays a role but I think this is more of a sort of legacy of trying to get this roadway right from a lot of different vantage points."