State Representative Aaron Michlewitz of the North End has introduced legislation to cap the I-93 highway ramp on Parcel 12 of the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway by November 1, 2017.
The exit ramp between Cross Street and Surface Road was created as part of the Central Artery “Big Dig” project. The Boston Museum was initially designated to build there as one of the four Greenway parcels that was intended for development. As the economic environment changed and construction challenges emerged, none of the non-profits moved forward. The Boston Museum group subsequently attempted a bid on the nearby Parcel 9 lot, but disbanded last year when that effort failed.
As for the exposed I-93 highway ramps, Rep. Michlewitz said, “It creates excessive noise that impacts surrounding North End residents as well as poor aesthetics.” The State owns the land through its transportation department, MassDot, and has always been legally obligated to cover the Greenway ramps according to the initial terms of the Big Dig. The new legislation puts a date on that requirement, requiring the ramp cover for Parcel 12 by November 2017.
The new effort to cap the ramp comes as an amendment to the Transportation Bond Bill currently making its way through the State Legislature. The measure has already passed the House of Representatives and will soon be considered by the State Senate. Supporting the measure in the Senate is Anthony Pettrucelli, representing the district that includes the North End and Greenway.
Because of its initial designation for development, Parcel 12 is not managed by the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy and the private, non-profit has no jurisdiction there. However, the Conservancy has initiated preliminary discussions about Parcel 12 at recent Board meetings, indicating its interest to eventually manage the property.
On the grass areas around the Parcel 12 ramps, there have been occasional proposals for various landscaping. The Friends of Commercial Street funded some layouts a few years ago and the Conservancy once proposed an urban nursery on the space.
One group that has been actively lobbying for at least part of the parcel area is North End RUFF, Responsible Urbanites for Fido. The dog owner group has developed plans for a dog park on the crescent section toward the Clinton St. parking garage.
Rep. Michlewitz added, “In addition to covering the highway ramps, I want to also move forward with a discussion about what the community wants to happen at Parcel 12 and whether we continue to hold out for development there.”