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The Mass Media

Third time’s the charm? The curse of Morrissey Boulevard

Saichand Chowdary
Cars drive down Morrissey Boulevard, a vital roadway for UMass Boston commuters. Photo by Saichand Chowdary / Mass Media Staff.

Those who commute to UMass Boston by car may be familiar with traveling William T. Morrissey Boulevard during a storm. The roadway, a victim of rising sea levels, is often threatened by flooding as commuters are forced to cut through the deluge of seawater.

Most have hoped for a plan to rectify this flooding-prone boulevard, and these requests may have been answered through the establishment of the Morrissey Commission. [1] According to the Dorchester Reporter, the commission, formed as of last November, plans to introduce necessary and long awaited resources in order to transform the roadway into something that supports commuters and residents alike, instead of hampering them. [2]

According to the Boston Globe, those present at the first meeting included James Arthur Jemison, chief of planning at the Boston Planning and Development Agency; DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo; David Mullen, who represents the University of Massachusetts Building Authority; State Representatives Daniel Hunt and David Biele, democrats of Dorchester and South Boston; State Senator Nick Collins; Boston City Councilor Frank Baker; and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who planned to delegate the role as of last year. [5]

The event also included residents who were able to express their opinions during a public comment period. The meeting was held both in person, in Southline Boston, and virtually on Zoom, with the proposed plan to raise the elevation of the roadway being the primary method to combat future flooding [3].

However, while the establishment of the commission is a hopeful sign that Morrissey Boulevard may finally become traversable, others are still hesitant of the promises being made [3]. Plans have consistently been created to tackle the vulnerable roadway, all of them failing to deliver in the end.

As reported by the Boston Globe, in 1997 similar plans were pushed to elevate the road which was never funded. [5] Following this in 2017 was a study of road conditions and a redesign developed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which was similarly dropped. [5] 

According to the Boston Globe in an interview with Senator Collins, a member of the Morrissey Commission, the main cause of these uncompleted projects is the parties that surround the roadway. City and state agency’s jurisdictions crowd each other with their conflicting interests, causing any plans to “fizzle out” if one compromise falls through. [5] 

The commission has marked their deadline for the plan as June 1, 2024. The success of the project has a contentious past to work with [2], but many commuters hope the newfound urgency of climate change will be the needed push to fix the flooding on Morrissey.


On Morrissey Boulevard, A Flood of Plans, But Little Action – Streetsblog Massachusetts [1]

In debut meeting, Morrissey Commission targets June ’24 deadline | Dorchester Reporter (dotnews.com) [2]

Morrissey Boulevard Will Finally Be Fixed…We think… – Caught In Southie [3]

Be informed. Get involved – Morrissey Blvd. Commission Meeting on Tuesday – Caught In Southie [4]

At long last, Morrissey Blvd. to be fixed, officials promised. This time, they mean it. – The Boston Globe [5]