Central Artery & Tunnel

Central Artery / Third Harbor Tunnel Project, Boston, Massachusetts

Project Landscape Architect: Preliminary Design, CRJA, Boston

One of the final links in the Interstate Highway System, the ‘Big Dig’ replaced the previous elevated highway with a ten-lane interstate housed in an underground tunnel through a two-mile swath of downtown Boston, as well as adding a tunnel under Boston Harbor leading to the airport. The political entities involved only added to the complexity — the project was funded by the federal government, managed by Massachusetts State Highway, and located on city land.

CRJA provided Preliminary Design in landscape architecture for the entire project area to serve as a basis for ten separate final design packages by others.  As a team member for the Central Area, Joan Hyde developed design templates for streetscapes along new downtown boulevards that would replace the steel structure of the overhead highway.  A unified corridor was created along the two-mile stretch with consistent street tree spacing, lighting, and street furniture. Within this continuous theme, the six distinct neighborhood identities were expressed with differences in street tree species, paving materials, and signage elements.

A generation of designers in the Boston area contributed to this exceedingly complex project, realizing the initial vision over the course of about twenty years.  The maps and photos shown here illustrate public outreach documents, the current downtown greenway, and early design drawings of the proposed neighborhood boulevards contributed by Joan Hyde for public outreach meetings.