BHCA Board Responds to Proposed MGH Expansion

The Beacon Hill Civic Association board of directors outlined its primary concerns with Massachusetts General Hospital’s proposed $1 billion expansion in a recent letter to the city.

In a March 22 letter to Katelyn Sullivan, senior project manager for the Boston Planning & Development Agency, Patricia Tully, the Civic Association’s executive director, outlined issues raised by community members and during a March 12 meeting sponsored by the nonprofit in regard to MGH’s plan to construct a 1,035,000-square-foot complex entirely inside its main campus consisting of two connected, 12-story towers, with its facade facing Cambridge Street.

The letter cites, among other major concerns, that “additional traffic caused by increased parking spaces as part of the [p]roject will have a highly disproportionate effect on already-severe congestion” and requests that the applicant conduct traffic studies of the all the potentially impacted areas look at alternate routes into the hospital besides Cambridge Street and evaluate and redesign of pedestrian pathways and sidewalks on the north side of Cambridge Street near the hospital campus.

“Residents want to see a more detailed plan than what they’ve seen already…and specific details on how traffic is going to be made better than it is today,” said Rob Whitney, chair of the Civic Association board. “There are concerns about traffic backing up into Charles Circle, which it already a problem now.”

Whitney said bicyclist safety in the area is another concern, particularly around the “narrow neck” near the Charles/MGH MBTA station.

In addition, Whitney said the massing and presence of the complex on Cambridge Street is also of importance to the community.

“We understand there needs to be some volume, but not so much that it becomes a towering building on Cambridge Street,” he said.

Whitney also expressed concern on the building’s proposed lighting and its appearance on the streetscape at night.

Moreover, Whitney said the project presents an opportunity to repurpose the maintenance facility at 12-16 Garden St. to low to moderately priced housing.

“All these things can be dealt with, and we look forward to working with [MGH and the city] collaboratively to make a good project even better,” Whitney said.

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