But more comprehensive and technical review has until now been beyond our reach. At Wednesday's meeting of the Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC) that is reviewing Harvard's expansion as part of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office (MEPA), we met consultants from Tighe & Bond who have been hired to support the CAC's review of Harvard's Master Plan and assist the CAC in developing alternatives and proposing mitigation measures.
There are many ways that Harvard's expansion will likely be good for the environment, such as replacing impervious paved surfaces with surfaces that allow rainwater to move into the ground.
But the transportation impacts and the related environmental effects of the expansion need close scrutiny.
If Harvard's North Allston expansion is really going to bring an additional 15,000 people a day to its campus, even if only 50% of those people drive to work, that is a lot of new traffic! (And that doesn't include the thousands of new residents and workers that will come to North Allston and North Brighton when/if the plans for the rest of the neighborhood become a reality.) It won't be easy for Harvard to get down to 50% automobile mode share, considering that 72% of its Allston employees currently commute by car.
And if thousands of people are going to come to Allston using public transportation there need to be some pretty big improvements there too.
And then there are the brave folks like me who ride a bike in the city. Having hundreds of people bike to work in Allston each day would be wonderful, but it is going to take some serious improvements to make that safe and inviting.
The next CAC meeting is scheduled for January 7 (6:00-8:00 at the Honan Library) and if you leave transportation comments here I will incorporate them into the CAC's discussions.