Allston I-90 price tag $400m higher than in Nov.

Tesler expects Boston, Harvard to pay for city streets

This story has been corrected to state that the price tag is $400 million higher.

STATE TRANSPORTATION officials put a $1.7 billion price tag on the Allston I-90 project on Wednesday, a figure that is $400 million higher than it was last November. 

The price reflects the decision made Wednesday to reconstruct the elevated portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike at ground level and the straightening of the highway as it wends its way through Allston. It also includes new rail tracks, a new stretch of Soldiers Field Road, new bridges, new parkland, a new bike and pedestrian path located out in the Charles River, and on and off ramps in the area.

The price also includes a new commuter rail station called West Station with an estimated cost of $180 million. 

But the new price tag also has a few surprises. Some of the increase reflects higher supply chain expenses induced by COVID, even though construction of the project won’t begin for at least two years.  

The price estimate also includes the cost of the street network that needs to be constructed in the neighborhood Harvard University is building in Allston on the vast swath of land the school owns to the south of Harvard Business School. 

“Those are costs that are part of this program,” said Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler.

The secretary indicated the state will seek to have Harvard and the city of Boston pick up the cost of the street network.

“This is a unique opportunity to develop a huge portion of land that Harvard owns in the city of Boston that cannot develop without this project,” Tesler said. “But those aren’t things that we, as we think about a funding strategy, will conventionally look to pay for. We’re going to want to have those conversations in the weeks ahead.”

The project also includes construction of a new MBTA commuter rail repair facility in Readville at an estimated cost of $300 million. Tesler said the repair facility is being included as mitigation for selecting an all-at-grade design in the throat section of the project, which requires the shutdown of a rail line connecting the south side of the commuter rail system to an existing commuter rail repair facility on the north side in Somerville. T officials, however, have said the new repair facility in Readville is needed to accommodate future commuter rail expansion and began work on the project even before the all-at-grade approach was selected.

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Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

As for where the $1.7 billion for the Allston project will come from, Tesler said he would look primarily to federal funding contained in an infrastructure bill pending in Congress, existing toll revenues (no new tolls), and Harvard and the city of Boston.  

“Our goal is to try to have these sources track pretty closely against the uses,” he said.