Crossing Storrow Drive and Soldiers Field Road

With the discussion at last night's Harvard Task Force meeting and the recent Globe Watch column about getting from North Brighton and North Allston to Herter Park along the Charles River, I thought it would be interesting to compare the level of access here with the opportunities to cross to the Charles from the Back Bay.

These two areas are comparable in their length (a bit less than 1 mile) and that they are two of the only areas of Boston where a residential area is in close proximity to the river. Elsewhere there are large institutional landowners (Harvard, BU) or industrial owners like CSX (Beacon Yards railroad).

In the Back Bay, crossings to the river (going from east to west) start at Mass Ave with the ramp that leads down from the Mass Ave bridge to the river. Traditional overpasses cross near Fairfield and Dartmouth Streets. The fourth bridge over this one mile stretch of road is the iconic Arthur Fiedler Footbridge near Arlington Street. A 5th overpass is just a 1/3 of a mile away at the end of Charles Street. As a result, one need walk no more than 1/6th of a mile to get to a bridge that provides access to the Charles.

There is only one safe option to get from North Allston and North Brighton to the river, the overpass at Telford St. Perhaps because of its awkward location and uninspired design, people seem to rarely use it. Most people, even if their trip is quite short, seem to drive their cars and park in the 200+ car parking lot (by far the largest parking lot along the river).

Western Ave and Everett St make a lot of sense for safer pedestrian connections to the river. The back of Smith Field is also a possibility and Cambridge St is an important connection to the river, either for people biking to downtown or crossing into Cambridge heading towards Central Sq, MIT, or Kendall Sq.

New overpasses could cost at least a couple million dollars and as explains, pedestrian overpasses should be a "measure of last resort". Improving the at-grade crossings would be a great place to start.


  1. Hi there,
    This is maybe only marginally on-topic, but if any of your readers are concerned about the dangerous intersection of Soldiers Field and Cambridge Street (where the bike path crosses Cambridge/River with no walk sign or pause in traffic), they should call the DCR at 617-626-1250. I came very close to death at this intersection last week, and when I called the DCR about it they said that mine was only the second call they'd received on the matter (the first call was also mine, by way of my city councilor). I find it hard to believe that I'm the only one concerned about this dangerous crossing, and urge other Allston-Boston commuters to call and request a crossing light.

  2. Anonymous2:16 PM

    Adding some at-grade crossings would really be a big help, and would be a pretty inexpensive solution instead of building more overpasses. There are already traffic lights west of the Elliott Bridge, so it's already less of a "limited-access" type road than it is further east. Some crosswalks at Everett St would certainly be nice.

    I would say that over the long term Soldiers Field road should become more a of a boulevard and less of a highway anyway, but that's of course pie in the sky given the state of things at the moment.

  3. Anonymous7:26 PM

    The bridge at Telford St. was built back in the late 60's , early 70's. There were tons of kids and parents that used to cross that bridge all the time. Bikes, carriages, rolling grocery carts, everyone used it and you had to stay to one side to let all the kids on bikes get by. Those were the times when everyone walked and nobody even thought of taking a car to the river. Lots of folks didn't have one car,let alone two to transport kids a couple of streets to the baby pool. I believe the reason the bridge was put there was it dumped you directly into the park area. It basically forced you to cross there. If my mother or my friends parents ever thought we would cross at WBZ, we would still be hearing about it today. The problem isn't so much that we desperatly need a crosswalk and light crossing at WBS area, but that ereyone is too lazy too walk further down the street and expend some energy to walk over a bridge instead of just crossing the street. Oh, two other things. that bridge was the first hadicapped accessible thing in the area that I know of and the bridge was put there because a boy scout got killed trying to cross Soldiers Field Road way back when.