We tend to agree with the Charlestown Neighborhood Council’s belief that the redesign of Rutherford Avenue proposed by the city will make that entire area more pedestrian friendly and might ultimately re-shape the future of the industrial area on the southern side of the avenue.
Opponents have claimed, and with only the best intentions, that such a proposal put into force in its entirety will cause a traffic nightmare.
We don’t believe this to be the case.
The Rutherford Avenue underpasses filled in will not change this neighborhood or traffic patterns substantially enough to warrant the blink of an eye.
This, of course, is keeping in mind that the traffic back-up heading into Boston beyond the Prison Point Bridge onto Rutherford Avenue, which occurs nearly everyday during rush-hour, is an inconvenience of the first order with or without the underpasses filled in or open to traffic.
Either way, Rutherford Avenue needs, among other things, traffic mitigation and the basic upgrade the city has offered.
It is true there will be slightly more traffic on the Sullivan Square roundabout with the underpasses closed but it will not be enough to change the face of the neighborhood or to greatly alter in any meaningful way access to Charlestown or into downtown Boston for that matter. At least the roundabout is being redesigned.
If you have perused everything the city is proposing to do to make Rutherford Avenue more people friendly – more a boulevard than urban scar – then it is easy to be in favor of the upgrade.
However, there are some living in Charlestown who believe the city wants to fix up Rutherford Avenue to attract more business in the industrial area. These people dread development and tend to complain when their taxes go up on their homes.
The industrial side of Rutherford Avenue could be and should be a much nicer place than it is. It should be more about looking like Cambridge near to Kendall Square than being the exclusive home for fruit peddlers and paper recyclers.
What has been redone at the former Hood Plant gives hope where there was none before.
Bottom line, we favor the city’s plan overall.
Ikea in Somerville will not impact traffic dramatically on Rutherford Avenue as this new facility will attract more shoppers from North and West of it than coming in from the Boston side. South of Boston people will continue to go to the Ikea in Stoughton instead of fighting downtown traffic and going through Charlestown to get to Somerville.
A rejuvenated Rutherford Avenue has more prospects and better potential than a Rutherford Avenue that remains the same.
For that reason alone, we favor the city’s redesign.