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Political Leaders Stand By Expensive Mass Pike Construction Project

BOSTON (CBS) - Attractive artist renderings, promises of better traffic, less concrete, and more green space. All this, for more than one billion dollars and nearly a decade of road construction.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he expects the cost of the newly announced Mass Pike project will be more than the state Department of Transportation has estimated so far.

Keller @ Large: Do We Really Need This

"You have to make improvements in transportation," he said. "There will be more efficiencies with the road coming down to ground level. It also allows an opportunity to have Commuter Rail service, better connections for bike and pedestrian traffic."

Mass Pike
Mass Pike construction plan (WBZ-TV)

MassDOT plans to drop an elevated section of the Pike to the ground and raise part of Soldiers Field Road over the Pike, creating new space that can be developed in Allston.

WBZ political analyst Jon Keller questions whether Boston really needs to replace the stretch of road where Harvard and the Charles River meet up with Boston University.

"For those of us who lived through the Big Dig, I think we can be forgiven for having a little bit of deja-vu," he said. "We were told that the Big Dig would cost a couple of billion. Of course it wound up costing many many times more, and would end up gutting our infrastructure maintenance and repair budget for many many years."

allston mass pike
The affected portions of the Mass Pike and Soldiers Field Road. (Photo credit: MassDOT)

Governor Charlie Baker stands by the plan. "This is so much smaller that it's hard to imagine it's going to end up too far from where it's bid at," Baker said Friday.

MassDOT officials have admitted they don't yet know how the project will be funded. "We'll be able to pay for it," said Baker. "I'm not worried about that. But we have a lot of work to do."

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