Proposed Overpass, 1931

pages 21-24 from:



December 28, 1931

(Brookline Public Library: [Brookline Room] 352.8 B8d)

Proposed Overpass in Boylston Street at the Village

Proposed Overpass in Boylston Street at the Village

The Village

The traffic volume in the section of Washington Street between Brookline Avenue and the Village is about 25,000 vehicles on an average weekday. This is only slightly less than the normal traffic in Beacon Street east of Coolidge Corner. With the new Turnpike completed this traffic at The Village will be increased to about 33,000 cars. This will make this the heaviest travelled section of roadway in the Town of Brookline and one of the heaviest in the Metropolitan District. This section of Washington Street is a throat through which must pass the traffic of a number of important radial and circumferential traffic routes. It carries traffic from cross-town routes such as Tremont Street and South Huntington Avenue and from such important radials as the Riverway, Huntington Avenue and Brookline Avenue. This traffic is distributed beyond the Village to Boylston Street and Washington Street. The traffic of Washington Street is in turn divided at Harvard Square, between Harvard Street and Washington Street.

The traffic count made on a week-day in November, 1931, shows a total of 24,717 vehicles in Washington Street at Village Square. Just beyond the Square in Boylston Street the traffic volume was but 10,449 and just north of the Square in Washington Street the traffic volume was 17,693.

The chief traffic interruption at the Square is caused by the crossing of the traffic going west on Boylston Street with the east-bound traffic on Washington Street. 7,549 inbound vehicles from Washington Street cross 4,450 outbound vehicles on Boylston Street. These 7,549 vehicles will be carried over Boylston Street by the proposed overpass. The overpass will be 53 feet wide with a 40-foot roadway. The approach to the overpass will leave Washington Street at White Place, pass over the Boston and Albany Railroad and over private property in the rear of the Brookline Savings Bank. After crossing Boylston Street it will continue through the intersection of High and Walnut Streets and behind the Fire Station. The present grade at High Street will be raised about 7 feet. With the overpass, traffic at The Village will not be interrupted by cross or turning traffic except for eastbound traffic at a point opposite Morss Avenue. The amount of this cross traffic is, however, quite small.

The plan assumes the substitution of busses for street cars but can be adapted to a temporary or permanent continuance of the car tracks. The plan substitutes for the present street car transfer station a smaller central reservation that will serve for the turning of vehicles around either end and as a safety zone for pedestrians.

Future motorbus stops are suggested as follows:

(1) Westbound Boylston Street busses to stop at a loading bay to be established on the northerly side of Washington Street at Pearl Street.

(2) Harvard and Washington Street outbound busses to stop in Washington Street just south of the Boston and Albany Railroad.

(3) Harvard and Washington Street inbound busses to stop at a loading bay in Walnut Street just east of the Fire Station.

(4) Eastbound Boylston Street busses to stop at a loading bay to be established between the Fire Station and the proposed overpass.

With the car tracks and the present transfer station removed, a well designed bridge over Boylston Street and a good architectural and landscape treatment of the enlarged open space between the approach to the over pass and the Fire Station, the general appearance of the Square will be very materially improved.


A 16-hour count shows 16,704 pedestrians crossing the various roadways at Village Square. The proposed overpass would reduce this number of pedestrian crossings by at least 3,100. There will still be a very heavy pedestrian traffic across Washington Street opposite the Fire Station. A pedestrian underpass should be considered for this location. It could be used by about 9,400 pedestrians. Until an underpass is constructed it will probably be necessary to stop traffic by officer controlled or automatic signals so that pedestrians may have an opportunty to cross in safety. It will be feasible if sufficient traffic is found to warrant it to construct a pedestrian underpass under Washington Street just north of the Boston and Albany Railroad at Station Street so that pedestrians could enter from the Boston and Albany Station level and come upstairs to the westerly sidewalk of the vehicular overpass at White Place.

From the Village East to the Boston Line

Definite recommendations for the treatment of Washington Street between the Village and the Boston Line must await the solution of the very difficult nine-point intersection formed by Washington Street, Huntington Avenue, Brookline Avenue, River Road, the Riverway, South Huntington Avenue, Pleasure Drive and Pond Avenue. This problem is now being studied by the State Department of Public Works. Its solution will probably involve carrying the Riverway over the Washington-Huntington route and the widening of Huntington Avenue and Washington Street to create a central traffic island.

Between Brookline Avenue and the Village a widening of Washington Street to not less than 106 feet is suggested. A loading bay for motor busses should probably be provided on the northerly side of the street at Pearl Street.

Economic Justification

The cost of the proposed improvement is great but the real cost of doing nothing or of spending only a bare minimum is even greater. The result of doing little or nothing will be the blighting of much fine residential property and the sacrifice of existing and potential taxable values. It will also mean a direct economic loss through accidents and delays to the users of the highway.

With the new Turnpike completed there will be an average daily traffic of not less than 15,000 vehicles over the nearly 3 mile stretch between the Newton Line and the Village. It is reasonable to estimate a saving of 3 minutes per vehicle in travel time over this distance on the proposed roadway as compared with the travel time with a similar volume of traffic using present roadway facilities. This means an annual saving of 273,750 vehicle hours. At one dollar per hour this shows a probable economic saving to the users of the highway of about $270,000 a year. Capitalized at 10 per cent this factor alone will justify the expenditure of $2,700,000 for the proposed improvement. In this estimate no account is taken of the time savings to some 15,000 vehicles that will daily cross Boylston Street; and no account is taken of the economic value of a reduction in traffic accidents or of the saving due to the conservation of property values.