Nearly 70 years ago, a prominent feature of the Emerald Necklace Park system disappeared when the Muddy River was channeled into culverts beneath Brookline Avenue and the traffic rotary in front of the Landmark Center, formerly the Sears tower. Years of sediment accumulation caused constrictions at the culverts, contributing to flooding during heavy rains. In 1996, extensive flooding inundated the Kenmore MBTA station. Similar flood patterns have persisted, sometimes requiring the MBTA to close the Green D Line to protect the station and tunnels. Next spring, a long-planned flood control project will restore the river and historic park and simplify traffic at this major gateway to the LMA.
Replacing a Lost Piece of the Necklace
The Army Corps of Engineers, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department are working together to restore this missing link of the Emerald Necklace when this section of the Muddy River is “daylighted” – exposed to sunlight for the first time in 7 decades. Reinstating the original depth and width of the river, rebuilding the riverbanks to their intended size with native, non-invasive species and enlarging the culverts beneath Brookline Avenue will reduce severe flooding and enable the ecosystem to better withstand heavy rainfalls.
This major construction effort is part of a larger Muddy River Restoration Project that includes dredging and restoration of several sections of the river. MASCO is a member of the Muddy River Maintenance and Management Oversight Committee (MMOC) an independent, citizen-led body established to provide oversight of the project and maintenance and management of the park.
Keeping Traffic Moving
Today, cars traveling on The Riverway to Park Drive and points west must cross busy Brookline Avenue and enter an awkward jug-handle turn. The Muddy River project will simplify traffic flow by directly connecting The Riverway and Park Drive on the west side of the rotary. This will reduce traffic on Brookline Avenue and The Fenway and help alleviate back-ups throughout the area. Other improvements will include a new signal at the existing Riverway/Fenway merge where traffic currently bottlenecks next to the Wheelock library, and a new signalized left turn from Brookline Avenue (inbound) in front of the Landmark Center. Pedestrian crosswalks will also be upgraded and park-to-park pedestrian crossings installed on the north side of the rotary.
Minimizing Construction-Related Disruptions
The first step of construction -- relocating complex underground utilities that serve the LMA – started in May. MASCO is working with the city and the state, utility companies and LMA institutions to coordinate construction plans to minimize traffic disruptions and to issue construction updates. Road and waterway construction work is scheduled to begin in the spring. For more information or construction updates, contact MASCO’s construction coordination line at 617-935-9420 or www.masco.org/programs/construction-coordination.
For more information about the Muddy River daylighting project visit www.muddyrivermmoc.org/.
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