Most in Charlestown know it as the “stub.”
It’s come up so many times in meetings over the last 15 years that it has its own nickname that most in Town actually recognize. For all those years, it was just a point of frustration, but now it appears it could actually happen.
The stub is the old I-93 North ramp that used to exist on the Charlestown Rt. 1 exit, allowing drivers a seamless transition from the Mystic/Tobin Bridge southbound right onto the highway and keeping them out of Charlestown. It was taken down during the Central Artery project, and was supposed to be replaced.
However, it was never replaced due to new highway regulations that prevented an onramp so close to an exit ramp, in this case Sullivan Square. So, the stub was born, and has lived a pretty good life since the end of the Central Artery project.
For the first time, though, within the Rutherford Avenue planning process, it appears there could be some hope for the stub to become an onramp once again.
Eric Mackey, a consultant on the Rutherford project, said they have talked to federal highway officials on side conversations, and have gotten good feedback about replacing the ramp.
“The last time we talked to the Highway Department folks, they felt the connection could happen because that is a new cantilever. A lot of traffic from the Navy Yard and downtown would use that. Now, they have to go about three miles down to Assembly Row to get on northbound, and they use Rutherford to get there.”
He did qualify that by saying it would have to be a totally separate project from the Rutherford/Sullivan Square Re-Design, and would likely cost around $50 million to build out.
However, it would be a major relief in Charlestown to keep traffic off of the corridor and on the highway.
State Rep. Dan Ryan attended the meeting last week and said he was taken by surprise by that side announcement.
“I was as surprised as anybody to hear it might be a possibility, which is great news,” he said. “I’d be interested to see where the conversation goes. It’s definitely a necessary connection and I don’t know if we’ve gone too far in a different direction now to address it. It is definitely worth looking at.
“That stub has come up at every meeting for the last 15 years,” he continued. “I never thought it would go anywhere, but I’m glad it’s on the table now.”
Ryan said he would certainly do whatever he can to fight for state funding to support the federal project.
Originally, it is said the project was never built out during the Central Artery as promised because of new highway regulations – regulations that said there couldn’t be an exit 2,500 ft. from an entrance to a federal highway. Now, those regulations some 20 years later have changed and it might make the stub a viable onramp again, which many feel would dramatically reduce commuter traffic in Charlestown.