Time to focus on Morrissey fixes

The state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation is planning a public meeting on Mon.,March 28 to kick off what will likely be a year-long effort to design an eventual reconstruction of Morrissey Boulevard.

The meeting will take place at the Leahy-Holloran Center, the Neponset facility that is located just steps away from the boulevard itself.
For reasons that should be obvious to anyone who walks, cycles, drives, boats, or otherwise seeks to navigate this key artery into the city from the south, the future of Morrissey Boulevard is a topic of keen interest far beyond the slopes of Savin or Pope’s Hill.

Currently, state lawmakers are pressing the case for making the $40 million reconstruction of the boulevard a priority in Gov. Baker’s five-year capital spending plan. We don’t yet know if the administration will include the Morrissey project in that capital plan, but the fact that the state agency charged with oversight of the boulevard is kicking off a public process this month is a good sign that it is at least under serious consideration.

That’s good news. The boulevard has seen some piecemeal fixes over the years – including the replacement of the Beades drawbridge in the 1990s. But a more ambitious restoration project — aimed at making the boulevard more of a “parkway” — was shelved around the same time that the urgently-needed drawbridge fix was done.

In the interim, the situation on Morrissey has grown more serious and frustrating. Regular tidal flooding — a function of its precarious location between Dorchester and Savin Hill bays along with dysfunctional infrastructure — causes regular delays and damage to the roadway, which is frequently closed to traffic in high tide events and is notoriously snarled with traffic that is only likely to grow in volume with the aggressive build-out of Columbia Point.

Rep. Dan Hunt, who has been leading the charge to make this rehabilitation effort a state priority, says that a strong show of interest from our community would be helpful at this stage.

“This is a $40 million project. The state would dredge and raise the roadway 3-12 inches, replacing drainage and making improvements,” said Hunt. “It’s important that people go so [officials] understand that this is important to the neighborhood.”

Hunt says that public input will be particularly important in informing design choices and thinking through elements like trees and fencing — and how to best link the road to other amenities, like the Neponset Greenway.

The meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Leahy-Holloran Center, 1 Worrell St., Dorchester. The public will be invited to submit comments after the meeting through Mon., April 18. The presentation will be posted online after the meeting, but if you are able to do so, please try to participate in person.

If you have questions or would like to be added to an email list to receive DCR general or project-specific announcements, email Mass.Parks@state.ma.us or call 617-626-4973.