Buses Only on Longfellow Bridge This Weekend

An 1871 work by Cantabrigian Winslow Homer, subtitled

An 1871 work by Cantabrigian Winslow Homer, subtitled “Oh, Ain’t It Cold!” Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Temperatures are expected to rise this weekend as the polar vortex remembers why it’s called a “polar” vortex in the first place. That’s good news for the folks working on the Longfellow Bridge, because they’ll be working hard this weekend during one of the project’s planned service diversions.

As with previous weekend diversions, the only motorized vehicles allowed on the bridge will be MBTA buses running between Kendall and Park St. stations. The detours for motorists remain the same. Here’s a map of those detours, and you can always find more resources at MassDOT’s Longfellow Bridge page.

Green Line Extension Neighborhood Meetings Start January 8

A map of the upcoming Green Line Extension public meetings. Image via MassDOT.

The Green Line Extension will run through some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in our Commonwealth, and the MBTA is looking for your input regarding noise mitigation. With that in mind, the first of six neighborhood meetings will be held from 6:00pm-8:00pm on January 8 at the Somerville Holiday Inn (30 Washington St., Somerville).

Each meeting will focus on the neighborhoods surrounding a single Green Line Extension station, with the first meeting zeroing in on Inner Belt, Brickbottom, and Union Square. I’ll be reminding neighbors of each meeting as it approaches, but here’s the full schedule:

  • Union Square Station, serving Union Square, Brickbottom, and Inner Belt: January 8, 6:00-8:00pm, Somerville Holiday Inn (30 Washington St., Somerville)
  • Washington Street Station, serving Prospect Hill and East Somerville : January 14, 6:00-8:00pm, Somerville Holiday Inn (30 Washington St., Somerville)
  • Gilman Square Station, serving Winter Hill: January 15, 6:00-8:00pm, Center for the Arts at the Armory (191 Highland Ave., Somerville)
  • Lowell Street & Ball Square Stations, serving Magoun Square: January 22, 6:00-8:00pm, Center for the Arts at the Armory (191 Highland Ave., Somerville)
  • Lechmere Station, serving the Glass Factory Condominiums, North Point, and East Cambridge: February 4, 6:00-8:00pm, Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (41 Second St., Cambridge)
  • College Avenue Station, serving Tufts University and South Medford: February 5, 6:00-8:00pm, St. Clement School (579 Boston Ave., Medford)

If you have any questions about which meeting you should attend, please contact MassDOT at info@glxinfo.com

Cambridge After-School Programs Win Additional Funding

City Sprouts teaches kids about nutrition and biology by helping them grow their own vegetables.

City Sprouts teaches kids about nutrition and biology by showing them how to grow their own vegetables, like these peppers from the Cambridgeport School. Photo by Kristen Emack via Cambridge Day.

Christmas came early for Cambridge’s City Sprouts and East End House after-school programs. Both groups recently received five-figure “quality enhancement” grants from the Commonwealth’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The money is intended to fund an expanded menu of STEM-focused service-learning summer programs and to expand the amount of time our kids spend learning outside the classroom.

Congratulations to everyone at City Sprouts, East End House, and their partners at the Cambridge Public School District—you continue to make us proud every single day.


Green Line Extension Small Business Event Tomorrow

The Green Line Extension is committed to working with small and disadvantaged businesses. Visit tomorrow's informational meeting at 10 Park Plaza in Boston to learn more

The Green Line Extension is committed to working with small and disadvantaged businesses to build and redesign seven stations, including Lechmere. Visit tomorrow’s informational meeting at 10 Park Plaza in Boston to learn more. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The Green Line Extension is an enormous project, and the work will include everything from demolition to electrical, plumbing to roofing, concrete, steel, glass, track, HVAC and more. The MBTA has pledged to work with locally owned small businesses and DBEs for the Green Line Extension, and tomorrow, local business owners can meet face-to-face with the MBTA and the project’s general contractor at a meeting at MassDOT headquarters (10 Park Plaza, Boston) from 3:30-5:30pm.

To attend, interested contractors and vendors must register by emailing Mark Smith at WSKdbe@jfwhite.com. The Green Line Extension is an incredible business opportunity for workers and businesses in Cambridge and Somerville, and I strongly encourage all interested contractors to attend.

Keeping Your Home Warm and Cozy this Winter

Stay warm this winter with help from the Fuel Assistance Program.

Stay warm this winter with help from the Fuel Assistance Program. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Winter is here, and a blast of Arctic air is on its way to New England. If you’re worried about paying your heating bills this year, there are a couple programs you should know about.

The first line of defense is the Fuel Assistance Program, which helps low-income households pay their heating bills in the winter months. In Massachusetts, families that make either 200% of the federal poverty level or 60% of the Commonwealth’s median income are eligible—click here to see if you qualify. If you’re facing an imminent “heat emergency,” your application will be fast-tracked. Please call (617)-349-6252 to make an appointment.

You may also be eligible for discounts on your utilities and/or tax credits to weatherize your home. The City of Cambridge maintains a list of other heating assistance programs here. And even if you don’t qualify for any of those programs, you still might be able to receive 100 gallons of free heating oil from Citizens Energy (they’re the folks behind those “Joe for Oil” commercials you might have seen).

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold, snowy winter for southern New England. Make sure you and your family stay warm.


MBTA Seeking Volunteers for Green Line Construction Working Group

The MBTA is looking for a few good neighbors to help on the GLX project.

Mayor Curtatone speaks as Governor Patrick and others look on at last year’s Green Line Extension groundbreaking ceremony. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The MBTA is putting together a panel of citizens to advise on the final design and construction issues associated with the Green Line Extension. Members of the panel—known as the Construction Working Group—will represent their neighborhoods and serve as a communications link between neighbors and the T.

Since this initiative is all about neighborhood engagement, the Construction Working Group is seeking applicants who live within a mile of the Green Line Extension. The Group’s seats will be apportioned based on the Green Line’s new stops, with one representative each from the neighborhoods surrounding Lechmere, College Ave., and Union Square stations (Gilman Square and Ball Square will be represented by two seats each).

The Working Group will meet every few months to make sure the Green Line Extension construction happens as smoothly as possible. To apply, just fill out this form and send it to Regan Checcio by Friday, December 13.

Help a Somerville Family in Need

Somervillian Michael Terrio is fighting cystic fibrosis and needs your help.

Somervillian Michael Terrio is fighting cystic fibrosis and needs your help. Image via GoFundMe/New Lungs for Michael Terrio.

One of our neighbors, Michael Terrio, is a small business owner and a lifelong resident of Somerville. He’s also approaching the seventh year of his fight against cystic fibrosis, and he and his family need our help.

When he was diagnosed with CF in 2007, Michael’s doctors told him he had three years left to live. He’s proved them wrong so far, but he’ll need a double lung transplant to really beat back this disease. He’s scheduled to travel to Pittsburgh, where he’ll undergo tests and be placed on a transplant list. After that, he and his medically required travel companion will have to stay in Pittsburgh until, God willing, he receives a transplant.

The Terrios family is asking for your help in defraying the costs of their father’s trip to Pittsburgh. Here’s how you can help:

  • Attend the fundraiser at On the Hill Tavern (499 Broadway, Somerville) on Saturday, November 30, at 7:30pm. There will be a 50/50 raffle, door prizes, a cash bar, and plenty of food donated by On the Hill Tavern. Suggested donations are $25, but no donation is too big or too small.
  • Donate to Michael Terrio’s GoFundMe page.

Longfellow Bridge Closed to Cars and Trains This Weekend

The Longfellow Bridge will be closed to cars and MBTA trains on Nov. 23-24, 2013.

A photo from the early 20th century showing the Longfellow (then Cambridge) Bridge’s arches under construction. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Cars and MBTA Red Line trains won’t cross the Longfellow Bridge this weekend, part of a planned service diversion associated with the bridge’s landmark rehabilitation project. Instead, buses will run between Kendall/MIT and Park Street stations. Pedestrians will be able to cross the bridge as they always have, but cyclists will be asked to walk their bikes across the river. There will also be alternating lane closures on Memorial Drive eastbound this weekend.

The detours for motorists remain the same as they were in previous weekend diversions. Here’s a map of those detours, but you can always find more resources at MassDOT’s Longfellow Bridge page.

A Turkey on Every Table

With your help, we can make sure all our neighbors enjoy a Thanksgiving feast this year. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Thanksgiving is just ten days away, and while many of us will be gathering with friends and family to stuff ourselves silly, some of our neighbors are facing the prospect of an empty Thanksgiving table. In a country as blessed as ours, that’s just not right, and community groups in and around Greater Boston are stepping up to the gravy-laden plate.

Here in East Cambridge, East End House is in the final days of its annual Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway, and they’re accepting food donations until 5pm Friday. East End House also needs people to help deliver their Thanksgiving Baskets, starting at noon this Friday. If you’d like to donate food, please bring the following items to the East End House (105 Spring St., Cambridge):
• Stuffing
• Gravy
• Cranberry Sauce
• Canned Pumpkin
• Desserts
• Canned Fruits and Vegetables
• Baby Food and Formula
• $15 gift cards to Shaw’s or Market Basket (to serve as vouchers for families that don’t eat turkey)

Our Commonwealth is the home of the first American Thanksgiving, and we owe it to ourselves and to one another to share our good fortune. Please help however you can.