The Inner Belt Symposia
The Inner Belt Symposia
April 4, 2012 at the MIT Stata Center
April 19, 2012 at the Cambridge Public Library
April 25, 2012 at the Cambridge Public Library
Please visit our Inner Belt on-line exhibit, with complete videos of our symposia:
The Inner Belt was a proposed eight-lane highway that would have connected U.S. Route I-93 to U.S. Route I-90 and I-95 through a ring road through Somerville and Central Square and across the B.U. Bridge and beyond through Boston to the Southeast Expressway. A group of city planners, community activists, universities, and politicians formed a coalition to block the construction of this road. Their actions preserved much of Cambridge and attracted national attention as one of the earliest community efforts that blocked an infrastructure development. It became the rallying cry of many later political movements in Cambridge. We will be hosting a series of programs on the history and legacy of the inner belt. Read on to learn about this history and our speakers.
The Role of Planners Working with Community Groups
Featuring Fred Salvucci, Tunney Lee, and Robert Goodman
Hosted by Mayor Henrietta Davis
At the Stata Center at MIT 32-155
32 Vassar Street
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Community Organizers
Featuring Ansti Benfield, Barbara Norfleet, Ann Hershfang, and Gordon Fellman
Hosted by Karolyn Crockett
At the Cambridge Public Library
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Legacy of the Inner Belt
Featuring Anthony Flint, John Wofford, and Susanne Rasmussen
Hosted by Richard Garver
At the Cambridge Public Library
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
A Brief History
The Inner Belt was a proposed interstate highway that was an 8-lane expressway that would have begun at Route I-93 in Somerville and circled through Cambridge near Central Square, crossed the Charles River near the BU Bridge, touched a portion of Brookline, crossed the Fenway and passed the Museum of Fine Arts, moved on through the Roxbury section of Boston to connect to the Southeast Expressway at the point where it joins the Central Artery heading toward downtown Boston. The Inner Belt and Central Artery thus would have joined to create a ring road around and through the inner Boston area, with major intersections along it: at a proposed extension of Route 2 from Alewife, at the Turnpike in Allston, at a proposed Southwest Expressway (I-95 South) originating in Dedham, at the Southeast Expressway, at a new tunnel under Boston Harbor (I-95 North).
Opposition to the Inner Belt had begun in the 1950’s in Cambridge; opposition to the Southwest Expressway originated with environmentalists in the outer suburbs and neighborhood activists in the inner city. A group of city planners, community activists, universities, and politicians formed a coalition that by 1969 had become a region-wide alliance that included groups and officials from Brookline, Cambridge, Dedham, Lynn, Milton, Needham, Revere, Saugus, Somerville and Boston’s East Boston, South Boston, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, and the South End.
As a result of community and political pressure, Governor Frank Sargent in early 1970 ordered a moratorium on plans for the expressway network, and called instead for a 3-year Restudy (The Boston Transportation Planning Review) of the proposed highways as well as proposed transit extensions. The Restudy produced the first Environmental Impact Study in the country following the enactment in 1969 of the National Environmental Policy Act. The Restudy had a "technical assistance" component to aid neighborhoods develop alternatives to the highways, as well as alternative alignments for transit extensions. In 1971, the Governor rejected the Inner Belt; in 1972 he rejected the Southwest Expressway and I-95 North; and in 1973 he approved plans to extend the Red Line from Harvard Square to Alewife along a new alignment via Porter and Davis Squares. The Governor also led the successful effort to change federal law so that funds designated for Interstate highways could be used instead for transit -- funds that were used for the extensions at both ends of the Red Line and for the relocation of the Orange Line in Boston.
Cambridge had a major role in battling one highway for decades and eventually sparking a process that created a powerful coalition that led officials to remake transportation policy for the Boston area inside Route 128, with an emphasis on transit, rather than highways, for access to the inner core of the area. This was a policy that had long been advocated by Governor Michael Dukakis, who succeeded Sargent as governor in 1974.
Ansti Benfield was one of the founding members of the opposition to the Inner Belt. She recruited friends and neighbors and participated in countless meetings, discussing tactics from letter writing campaigns to direct action. She was a leading member of Save Our Cities and Neighbors United, the groups that led the citizens opposition to the proposed infrastructure. She completed a MA in Urban Studies from Boston University in 1968. Her thesis was titled "Inner Belt."
Anthony Flint is a fellow and director of public affairs at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy www.lincolninst.edu., author of Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City (Random House), and a former Boston Globe reporter.
Gordon Fellman, a professor of sociology at Brandeis University and one of the founders of Urban Planning Aid and the author of The Deceived Majority, which explores the history of the Inner Belt struggle.
Robert Goodman, who received his B.Arch. from MIT, is emeritus professor of environmental design at Hampshire College. He has also taught urban planning and architecture at MIT, the University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia University. Mr. Goodman was a founder and the first president of Urban Planning Aid, which provided professional planning help to low-income communities, and his work including helping community activists argue the case against the Inner Belt at various government forums. He is the author of After the Planners, an attack on the ways in which architects and planners contributed to the destruction of neighborhoods and failed to provide for people’s needs. Mr. Goodman also wrote The Luck Business: The Devastating Consequences and Broken Promises of America’s Gambling Explosion and The Last Entrepreneurs: America’s Regional Wars for Jobs and Dollars. He is currently completing Joy Ride: Reinventing American Transportation.
Ann Hershfang was an instrumental part of the South End component of the protest against the Inner Belt. She was later the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Boston president from 1985 to 1987 and served on the board of directors for Massport and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, as well as serving as Undersecretary for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. She was a co-founder of WalkBoston and is still a leader in the effort to improve pedestrian safety and walking conditions.
Tunney Lee is a senior lecturer and professor emeritus at MIT. He was the head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT from 1986 to 1990. He studies the experience of neighborhood and city planning in Boston and Hong Kong with a special interest in high density urban settings. He is the former chief of Planning and Design at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the former deputy commissioner for the Massachusetts Division of Capital Planning and Operations. At the early stages of the opposition to the Inner Belt, Lee worked with Fred Salvucci and other planners to provide technical assistance to neighborhood groups.
Barbara Norfleet was a Senor Lecturer in the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard University from 1981 until she retired in 1996. She remained a curator of photography until 2001 and is still an advisor to the Department. She received her B.A. from Swarthmore College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in social relations from Harvard University and Radcliffe College. Her works have been widely shown in the United States and Europe. She has written over 15 publications. One of her first was Six Speak, a book of photographs and words that showed families and their homes that would have been destroyed by the construction of the Inner Belt.
Susanne Rasmussen is the director of Environmental and Transportation Planning for the City of Cambridge. She has an M.C.P. in City Planning from MIT and an Ms.C. in City Planning from Aalborg Universitet in Denmark. The Environmental and Transportation Planning Division of the Community Development Department is responsible for improving the city’s quality of life by working to protect and improve its environment and natural resources and by planning improvements to its transportation system.
Fred Salvucci is a Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Associate in Civil Engineering at MIT. He has worked as a civil engineer, specializing in transportation, with a particular interest in infrastructure, urban transportation, public transportation, and institutional development in decision-making. He served as transportation adviser to Mayor Kevin White of Boston between 1970 and 1974 and then as secretary of transportation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under Governor Michael Dukakis between 1975 and 1978 and again from 1983 to 1990. In those roles he participated in much of the transportation planning and policy formulation in the Boston urban area and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of the past 35 years, with a particular emphasis on the expansion of the transit system and the development of the financial and political support for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Working with Tunney Lee, Salvucci provided technical assistance to community groups.
Jack Wofford is a mediator, facilitator, and arbitrator with his own national and international practice based in Cambridge. He was a fellow and associate director at the Institute of Politics of Harvard’s Kennedy School and director of a study of Legal Issues in Urban Transportation at Harvard Law School when he was tapped to be the director of the Boston Transportation Planning Review, the 3-year Restudy which examined highway and transit controversies for Governor Sargent. After rejecting most of the highways, the governor named Jack associate commissioner of the Department of Public Works in charge of highway construction. He then became the first director of the Central Transportation Planning Staff under Governor Dukakis, and later the deputy general counsel of the US Department of Transportation in the Carter Administration. Jack was a law clerk for a United States District Judge, a partner in the real estate department of a Boston law firm, and a senior mediator at Endispute, Inc. In 1999, President Clinton appointed Jack to the Federal Service Impasses Panel, which resolves disputes between the federal government and its unionized employees; he served until 2002. He is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.