Although a massive freeway and tons of concrete may separate South Boston and the South End, organizers behind the “Underpass Make Over” hope to bring life to the no-man’s land between the two communities.
A planning workshop, sponsored by the South End-based Washington Gateway Main Street, has been organized for Thursday to give residents a chance to provide input about ways to clean up and enliven the space under I-93 between Traveler Street, West 4th Street, and E. Berkeley.
“[The area] is unsafe, dirty, and dark,” explained Jennifer Effron, the executive director of the Washington Gateway Main Street.
“There is a lot of development happening on either side and the neighbors see this as a place that needs improvement,” she added.
From the new buildings popping up along West Broadway to the Ink Block project in the South End, there is plenty of foot traffic going to and from the areas, but for the brief few minutes it takes to pass under the freeway the streets darken and the space feels cold, unwelcoming, and even a little dangerous after a man was found dead in the area in February.
“For us it’s an opportunity to connect these two neighborhoods and take a no-man’s land and make it into a place you not only feel safe in, but are drawn to,” said Effron.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and local developers are already in the process of implementing new parking and lighting in the area, something Effron said is an excellent jumping off point for the project.
“The parking and lighting itself will be a big improvement and we want to build off of that and look for opportunities for short-term strategies that can lead towards long-term projects.” Effron said.
With a particular concentration on art and community use, from festivals to food trucks, Effron said the group will focus on initiatives that can be completed in the short-term.
“We really want to focus on what can be done in the next six to 12 months,” said Effron. “We see this as a place making opportunity.”
The workshop, which will include designers from Street Plans Collaborative, will be held October 3 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Project Place, located at 1145 Washington St.
More information can be found here.