NEU Masters' Projects Presentations: Road & Intersection Solutions for Boston

Road and Intersection Solutions for a Bowker Overpass Surface Option and the Commonwealth Ave / BU Bridge Intersection

Peter Furth, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University, is pleased to host presentations of projects he has advised, done by students Jeff Bachiochi and Dixian (Dixon) Qiu, candidates for MS in Civil Engineering.

The public is welcome.

The Bowker Overpass is an elevated highway running through the middle of Charlesgate Park connecting Storrow Drive to the Back Bay Fens. Opened in 1965, it is one of the last highways in the US built through an urban park, that practice having been outlawed in 1966. As it nears the end of its useful life, people wonder whether it’s possible, instead of rebuilding it, to remove it, letting the traffic be carried on the existing surface roads that border the park, so that the park won’t have to continue to suffer the blight of being under a highway. This presentation shows a traffic circulation option that uses innovative signalization to give it enough capacity to carry all of the existing Bowker traffic with only minor road widening, opening up Charlesgate Park and allowing the Muddy River path to continue from the Back Bay Fens to the Charles River. Thanks to community feedback, it represents a significant improvement from the alternative presented in October, 2014.

The Commonwealth Ave / BU Bridge Intersection lies on the deck of a bridge over the MassPike that is going to be rebuilt over the next two summers. While current plans make some progress in improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, we show an alternative plan that features cycle tracks and corner islands with bicycle and pedestrian pre-signals. This scheme, borrowed from Copenhagen, protects pedestrians and cyclists from right turns, yet allows them to cross concurrently with right turning traffic. That improves efficiency so much that the intersection can operate with fewer lanes and a much shorter signal cycle, resulting in less queuing, less delay for all users, and shorter and better protected crossings for pedestrians.