(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)
The dark space underneath the I-93 overpass, between South Boston and the South End, will soon be alive with light, as the neighborhood prepares to flip the switch on the “Underpass Makeover” project.
Led by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the project is part of a larger effort by the DOT to enliven, clean up, and monetize the space underneath the busy roadway.
“This is a collaborative effort to convert a spot that was unattractive and a nuisance into something that’s attractive and strengthens connection between neighborhoods, and puts the area to a productive use,” explained Mike Verseckes, a spokesman for the DOT.
Over the coming weeks, designers and architects with Landing Studio will install a series of temporary lights in the area, to bring a little life to the space.
After the kinks have been worked out, a more permanent installation is expected to be added.
“What we hope our lighting is able to do, is amplify those [the overpasses’] architectural characteristics and turn this into a pretty unique landscape for people as they’re trafficking through this area,” said Dan Adams, an architect with Landing Studio.
The light project is only a small part of a larger push by the DOT to revamp the space.
The DOT is in the process of developing a multi-use parking facility under the structure, which was previously used to store construction equipment. Once completed, 432 new parking spaces, in addition to a number of improvements, will be added to the approximately eight-acre area.
A “Request for Information” was issued by the department last year seeking proposals for the parking spaces including commercial parking, resident parking, and community uses. DOT officials expect the first phase of the project to be up and running by spring/summer, with the overall project paying for its self within five years.
Phase 1 of the project, which was completed in December, included the construction of 235 parking spaces accessible from Albany Street. The project also included improved pedestrian connections and added lighting along West Fourth Street, which connects to the South End’s East Berkeley Street.
Phase 2 of the project, expected to be completed by December 2014, will include the construction of 192 parking spaces, which will be accessible from Traveler Street. The second phase also includes a multi-modal path connecting the South Bay Harbor Trail to Kneeland Street and a transportation-themed public space, which will connect to the Boston Harborwalk.
Designers and advocates for the space, including the West Broadway Neighborhood Association and Old Dover Neighborhood Association, will unveil the first light installation at a ceremony planned for Friday.
The event, which is open to the public, is expected to kick-off at 4 p.m. at the corner of Albany Street and East Berkeley Street. For more information visit the DOT’s project page.