Putting Legacy First: Planning for the Boston 2024 Olympics

Quick links: Executive Summary, Full Report

Boston’s Olympic bid has the potential to shape the region for years to come. Our new report, issued jointly with the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance and Transportation for Massachusetts, urges Olympic planners to put legacy first.

While the Olympic Games will only last a few weeks, the bid offers Massachusetts a unique opportunity to create new neighborhoods, build more housing, improve transportation infrastructure, generate jobs, and increase tourism in the Boston region. In order to achieve this, the report urges Boston 2024, the Commonwealth, and the City of Boston to establish a coordinated planning process that focuses on the “legacy impacts” of the Games and suggests specific housing, transportation, and environmental actions to ensure the region benefits in the long term.

The report’s first recommendation to the Commonwealth is to establish an Olympic Planning Commission to oversee public planning around the Games and to ensure Massachusetts benefits from the new development and infrastructure that hosting the Olympics could bring. It’s crucial that the Commission adopts a regional, transparent, and inclusive process, focuses on a positive legacy for the region, and maximizes public input and participation particularly of under-represented individuals and groups.

The Olympics pose specific risks to Boston residents, specifically the potential for rising housing prices and displacement. The report suggests nine overall recommendations to prevent displacement and advises the City to build affordable housing at venue sites after the Games end.

The report proposes an “Olympics where you never need a car.” To achieve this, it calls for a greater focus on a number of MBTA improvement projects, the addition of new Hubway stations and special bike lanes, and improved pedestrian access and disability accommodations. This would allow the Games to be “fully accessible by transit, bicycle, and walking,” and more importantly would provide the region the 21st century transportation system it deserves.

Since all the main venues are along the coast or Charles River, the report strongly suggests Olympic planners use the Games as an opportunity to build resilience to climate change, sea level rise, and storm surges.

To learn more and read the full report, please visit our website.