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Harvard Enterprise Research Campus Developer Pledges Transportation Improvements

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As the Boston Planning and Development Agency proceeds with its review of Harvard’s proposed Enterprise Research Campus, developers, University representatives, and Allston residents met virtually Tuesday to discuss plans to improve local transportation.

This latest Harvard Allston Task Force meeting convened following the filing of Tishman Speyer’s Draft Impact Project Report — a document released July 28 outlining the developer’s additional commitment to affordable housing.

The meeting also addressed the firm’s 18-page Planned Development Area document filed earlier this month. This PDA document concerns the initial “Phase A” of the ERC and covers everything from building appearance to traffic circulation.

The filing will facilitate zoning for the project in the future, according to BPDA Senior Institutional Planner Nupooor Monani.

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Michael Regan, an adviser to the Tishman Speyer team and managing director for transportation consulting firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, offered a broad overview of the developers’ transportation designs.

Regan said developers plan to construct new “multi-modal” streets that enable various forms of transportation, including on- and off-street bicycling and walking paths.

The ERC will feature separated and protected bike lanes, space for potential seating areas or outdoor retail, and greenery, according to Lee Altman, director of design management at urban design firm SCAPE.

Altman added the development will include four designated drop-off areas to serve rideshare and demand delivery services to reduce conflicts among drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and visitors to the ERC’s hotel and conference center.

Regan said a possible effect of the influx of people into Allston as a result of the ERC may be worsened passenger crowding on buses operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

To address these transit pressures, Regan offered a three-part plan including partnering with Harvard to offer supplemental shuttle services.

Regan said developers are also seeking to mitigate the build-up of traffic on local roads by unbundling the price of parking from the cost of residential units and offering a subsidized bike maintenance program.

Task Force member Cindy Marchando complimented developers on their outreach, but said she fears projections for the number of vehicles are understated and that the drop-off areas will be insufficient.

“We will have major gridlock on Western Ave. just by the mere fact of the conference center,” Marchando said.

Regan said traffic analysis has taken into consideration the impact of the conference center and that event planners will avoid overlapping events and will take advantage of all curb space to prevent gridlock.

Task Force member Tim McHale said despite the developers’ outlines, he believes they are still lacking a comprehensive transportation plan and fears the ERC will begin to face transit issues like Boston’s Seaport district.

“Show me an innovative district being planned that does not address the fundamental issue of moving enormous amounts of people,” he said. “Well, actually, we did it in the Seaport, and we all know how that turned out.”

—Staff writer James R. Jolin can be reached at james.jolin@thecrimson.com.

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