Primer for Improved Urban Freight Mobility and Delivery
Boston's Paul W. Conley Terminal is located in historic South Boston, adjacent to a dense urban neighborhood. The terminal processed more than 257,000 containers in 2017, its third record-breaking year in a row. The terminal is not served by rail, but it has nearby access to Interstates 90 and 93. The terminal is the source of as many as 900 truck trips per day on local city streets, generating noise, vibration, and congestion impacts on area residents. In 2008, to address these impacts, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) began the planning and land acquisitions necessary to build a dedicated freight roadway to remove container traffic from neighborhood streets. Construction of the Thomas J. Butler Freight Corridor and Memorial Park at Conley Terminal began in 2014.
The 0.6-mile roadway has removed all Conley container trucks from East First Street and Summer Street in South Boston. In addition, the Dedicated Freight Corridor expanded on-terminal truck queuing areas, resolving community concerns over trucks queuing and idling on city streets near residences. The new roadway alignment also facilitates future plans to relocate the terminal's main gate facility and streamline operations, as well as creating a spine for the terminal's underground electrical and telecommunications utility infrastructure. The project includes a 4.5-acre landscaped buffer park along East First Street, which was built on a brownfield industrial property and designed through a community planning process. The linear park features a multi-use path, a dog park, and a series of interpretive panels about the port and South Boston history, as well as a 16-foot-tall noise wall that separates the park and the neighborhood from the trucking and container terminal activities within the South Boston Designated Port Area to the north.
Removing container trucks from East First Street had been a long-standing desire in the South Boston community and was informally tied to future terminal expansion plans. The project was envisioned after the City of Boston and Massport's Port of Boston Economic Development Plan (1995) confirmed the importance of preserving a container terminal in the Port of Boston and determined that Conley Terminal needed to expand to support growth predictions.
Thomas Butler Dedicated Freight Corridor. Source: Massport.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor traverses several former industrial properties including the Exelon Power Plant, a former emergency power plant for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), and the former Coastal Oil petroleum storage facility. It took more than 5 years of advanced planning, land purchases, and legislative changes to transfer land parcels from the MBTA to Massport before construction could begin. Funding for the project came primarily from Massport bond offerings. The $75 million corridor opened in September 2017.
Establishing community support and a sense of community ownership was critical in all project phases. Beginning in 2009, Massport conducted many community meetings in South Boston to address the overall project. A design advisory committee of local residents and elected officials collaborated with Massport and its consultant design team over approximately 18 months to arrive at the design for the Butler Memorial Park. Massport also worked with a number of municipal, State, and Federal agencies as part of the project planning, that included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, Boston Transportation Department, the MBTA, and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office, among others.
Kevin McWeeney, Senior Transportation Planner/Project Manager, Massport, (617) 568-5952, KMcWeeney@massport.com
Laura Gilmore, AICP, Senior Transportation Planner/Project Manager, Strategic & Business Planning, Massport, (617) 568-1083, email@example.com
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration