Blackstone Canal District Alliance: Blackstone Canal Revitalization

Student Researchers:

Robert Crimmins

Mr. Crimmins is a junior at WPI double majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as Robotics Engineering. He specializes in 3D Printer design and construction including freelance engineering designing custom prototypes for clients. 

John Messier

Mr. Messier is a junior at WPI majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He has interned  for Diebold in the past in their business of installing and programming ATM machines.

Daniel Ouellette

Mr. Ouellette is a junior at WPI majoring in Chemical Engineering.  He is a member of the baseball team at WPI and is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Honors Society.

Nicholaus Spunar

Mr. Spunar is a junior at WPI majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He has interned at United Technologies in the past working on Air Conditioning product development.

Project Sponsor: The Blackstone Canal District Alliance

The Blackstone Canal District Alliance is a nonprofit Community Organization that came about in 2003, who’s main concern is the economic growth of the Canal district itself and Worcester as a whole. The Canal District is located just north of interstate 90 and ranges from Union Station to Brosnihan  Square.  The President of the Alliance is Worcester resident John Giangregorio.  The alliance is responsible for the improved streetscape in the Canal District and the annual event held in the Canal District known as Canalfest.  There goal is to restore the Blackstone Canal where is ran under Harding Street from Union Station to Kelley Square.  The Blackstone Canal District Alliance believes that the Canal will become the tourist attraction at the center of a mixed-use destination neighborhood with residential housing, commercial office spaces, and different entertainment venues.  Seen below is a digital image of how the Blackstone Canal District Alliance envisions Harding Street after a restoration.


Goals and Objectives:

Our team has been tasked with providing a cost and benefit analysis of different revitalization options for the Blackstone Canal in order to aid the Blackstone Canal District Alliance in their effort to create the mixed-use destination neighborhood that the Blackstone Canal District alliance envisions.  We are addressing factors of associated costs with revitalizing the Canal, projected tourism in the area, and potential business growth in order assess the potential benefits and hindrances that would be entailed with the undertaking of such a project.

Objective 1: Identify the Stakeholders of a Blackstone Canal Restoration or Replication

Our first objective was to identify this project’s stakeholders. For this project there are two main types of stake holders, the first of which being decision makers who can affect the overall outcome of the project. Decision makers consist of urban planners, civil engineers, and local politicians such as state representative Mary Keefe of the Massachusetts 15th district who has voiced support for this project.  The second type of stakeholder is any knowledgeable individual who could assist us in our cost and benefit assessment. These people consist of professionals in the tourism industry, economic development, or members of the Department of Public Works. Over the past several weeks through a process of archival research we have determined an initial list of stakeholders who we will interview and gather a more complete list of stakeholders from.

Objective 2: Identify Associated Costs and Benefits of a Restoration of the Blackstone Canal

Associated costs include those of materials, labor, and any equipment necessary for demolition and construction.  In order to determine the approximate costs we interviewed different civil engineers, urban planners, and employees of the Department of Public Works in cities with completed similar projects and in the Worcester. We also identified economic, social, and historic benefits of a Blackstone Canal revitalization.

Objective 3: Identify Associated Costs and Benefits of a Replication of the Blackstone Canal

Again we interviewed urban planners, civil engineers, and Department of Public Works to compare the costs of a replication and a restoration. Furthermore, we interviewed economic development and tourism professionals in order to identify benefits of a replication. We used the interviews to discuss both restoration and replication in order to maximize efficiency.

Objective 4: Compare Anticipated Costs and Benefits of the Blackstone Canal Revitalization with Costs and Benefits of Similar Projects

Based on the date we gathered in our interviews from objectives 1 though 3, we compared benefits and costs from similar projects and the projected costs and benefits of Worcester. We researched economic impact reports in order to analyze the costs and benefits of other waterway revitalization projects. We also conducted interviews with civil engineers, urban planners, and Departments of Public Works in Worcester and in other cities in order to analyze the potential economic, social, and historic impact Worcester can expect from a Blackstone Canal revitalization.

Objective 5: Develop Recommendation for the Most Beneficial Revitalization Effort

Based on all of the data we gather in objectives 1 through 5, we intend to show the economic impact of each option as well as determine which option would be more cost effective to undertake.

Final Report:

Cost and Benefit Analysis of Blackstone Canal Revitalization

Blackstone Canal Revitalization Project Video