Tag: Green Line (page 1 of 2)

MBTA Takes Important Step Forward on Green Line Extension

Today, at Somerville City Hall, the MBTA Board of Directors approved a contract for the final design of the Green Line Extension. The Board’s decision follows a critical piece of federal environmental approval from earlier this summer.

MBTA Board of Directors approve the Green Line Extension

The MBTA Board of Directors approves the first phase of Green Line Extension construction.

This means the long-promised Green Line Extension is one big step closer to becoming a reality, and that construction will “begin next month,” according to MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey.

As my friends and neighbors in Somerville are well aware, East Somerville is one of the most densely populated areas in the country to not be served by light rail. The Green Line Extension project will improve both air quality and traffic by making it easier to get around without a car, spur economic development throughout Somerville, and create new green space along a corridor from Davis Square to the Charles River. It’s a win-win-win for all of us, and that’s why I’ve been fighting for it since I first got to the State House.

The process of extending the Green Line from Lechmere into Somerville has been long and painstaking, and at times, I’ve shared my neighbors’ frustration over the project’s delays. But today’s meeting marks a major milestone and is cause for celebration. With this decision, the MBTA Board of Directors has made good on promises it made to Somerville and Cambridge years ago. Now, the hard work of construction begins, starting with the rehabilitation of three critical sites along the proposed Green Line Extension tracks.

As always, I’ll be pushing for the rapid construction of the Green Line Extension, and I’ll let you know about important developments here and on Twitter.

MassDOT Public Meetings Planned for Next Week

There will be two public meetings held by MassDOT in Somerville next week.

The first is a meeting at the Holiday Inn, located at 30 Washington St., to discuss noise barriers and retaining walls for the Green Line Extension project. This meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 22nd from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The second is a meeting on Wednesday, May23rd from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Capuano Early Childhood Center located at 150 Glen St. The purpose of this meeting is to brief the public and elected officials on the progress of the Assembly Square Orange Line Station project.

If you have any questions about these meetings, please contact my office and either myself or my staff will be happy to assist you.

MassDOT Board Votes to Fund GLX Design Contract

Yesterday, the MassDOT and MBTA boards of directors voted to authorize a $19 million design contract for Gilbane Building Company/HDR Engineering Inc. to provide additional design engineering services for the Green Line Extension. The HDR/Gilbane team, which has been behind the recent GLX station designs presented to residents, will continue their work in construction and design management in partnership with MassDOT and the MBTA.

The approval of this contract is positive news for the Green Line Extension. Although it does not represent a major development in the history of the project, it is critical that ongoing projects within the Green Line Extension program, such as the public station design process that is being led by the HDR/Gilbane team, are properly funded and allowed to continue to completion.

The next major step toward beginning construction on the Green Line Extension will be the issuance of a contract for initial construction work on the Medford St. Rail Bridge in Somerville, the Harvard St. Rail Bridge in Medford, and the demolition of the MBTA-owned building at 21 Water St. in Cambridge. MassDOT and the MBTA hope to award a contract by the end of 2012, meaning that the Green Line Extension is closer than ever to seeing shovels in the ground.

New Lechmere Station Design Progressing, Concerns Linger About McGrath Crossing, Bus Routes

On the evening of Wednesday, December 14th, residents, activists, representatives from NorthPoint developer HYM, and architects and planners from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation gathered at the Kennedy-Longfellow school to discuss the latest changes and developments in the design of the new Lechmere Station.

From the changes that have been made as the station design has evolved, it is clear that the public design process has produced a station design much more in line with the community’s vision of an ideal Lechmere station. The station entrance has been moved to a location more equally accessible by East Cambridge residents. What was a narrow space between the station and McGrath has been widened to 30 feet, a change enabled by alterations to the path of First Street. The design of the station has been altered to promote a more even flow of pedestrians coming from all directions, and a more direct route to the Lechmere bus stop when crossing from East Cambridge.

While these changes are strong steps forward, it is clear from the questions and comments directed toward MassDOT at the end of the meeting that a number of concerns about pedestrian safety and access have not yet been assuaged by station designers. There is still a long pedestrian crosswalk that must traverse a busy section of the McGrath Highway/Boulevard. Developer HYM has made a number of suggestions to MassDOT about how this crossing can be approached in a way that maximizes pedestrian safety and comfort. Their suggestions include using different lighting and paving elements at the intersection of McGrath and First Street to encourage drivers to slow down and eliminating the right hand turn lane from the inbound side of McGrath. I am looking forward to seeing what MassDOT puts forward in reaction to these suggested improvements.

Another concern that was voiced by several members of the meeting’s audience was that bus access to East Cambridge will be diminished by the relocation of the station. Moving Lechmere across McGrath will require buses to turn off of Cambridge Street at Third Street, and reroute buses away from destinations like the Courthouse. Access to buses, particularly for the elderly and disabled, is a primary concern of mine, and I am interested to see how these concerns will be addressed.

As a final part of the meeting, MassDOT officials briefly discussed the potential for phased construction of the Green Line Extension and what that will mean for Lechmere’s completion date. Because of Lechmere’s placement in an early construction phase, the new station could be open in early 2017, well ahead of the projected 2019 date for the completion of the entire extension. This is very exciting news, and I will be pushing for a commitment from MassDOT to begin phased construction as soon as possible.

MassDOT has also announced that there will be a number of meetings coming up in the near future. Be on the lookout for Washington Street and Union Square station design meetings in late January, and meetings about the Maintenance Facility and Community Path in early April. I will post more detailed meeting information on my community blog as soon as it is available.

Mock Green Line Groundbreaking Declares that we are Shovel Ready

Dozens of people gathered outside the Somerville High School on Thursday night to declare that our communities are “shovel ready” for the long-awaited Green Line Extension. Groups from Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, and Medford gathered to demand progress on the project, which the Massachusetts Department of Transportation recently announced would be delayed by up to five years.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone speaks about 
Somerville’s need for the Green Line Extension.

Speakers from a wide cross-section of local community groups gave voice to the range of needs that the Green Line Extension will fulfill. A new public transit system in Somerville and Medford will mean greatly improved access to transit for the elderly and disabled, provide a greater number of job opportunities for those who rely on public transit to get around, and introduce a flood of new customers from around the region to local businesses.

Twenty years after its conception as mitigation for the Big Dig, I think we can all agree that the Green Line Extension is long overdue. Getting real shovels in the ground as quickly as possible is more critical now than it ever has been before, and is a way for the state to renew its commitment to the project at a time of great public anxiety and mistrust over its future.

While I was incredibly disappointed by this summer’s announcement of further Green Line Extension delays, I am pleased that talks are moving forward on a phased construction plan that would begin rail bridge work necessary for the project as soon as next year. This was a major ask of the Green Line legislative delegation when we met with the Governor at the end of the summer. I firmly believe that once the state begins to invest in the infrastructure for the Green Line Extension, it will be difficult for officials to justify further scheduled delays in the completion of the entire project. Even after ground has been officially broken, the state has shown us that continued community involvement in conjunction with the active engagement of elected officials will be necessary until the last piece of rail is laid. We have been shown that we cannot always count on the deliverance environmental justice to communities that deserve it, and instead those communities must continue to fight for it until it is delivered.

Please check back here often for the latest news about the Green Line Extension and what is being done to ensure that it is completed.

Tomorrow: Mock Green Line Extension Groundbreaking

Somerville High School – map

A mock groundbreaking and demonstration will be held tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Somerville High School before the Green Line Extension public meeting that is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The goal of the mock groundbreaking is to protest the recently announced delays in the target completion date for the Green Line Extension project and to show that the citizens of Somerville, Medford, and Cambridge and their representatives are ready for work to begin now.

All are invited to attend the rally and public hearing that will follow. If you believe that the Green Line Extension needs to be a top priority of the state, I would encourage you to turn out tomorrow and show how shovel-ready our community is.

The Green Line Extension is a legally mandated, desperately needed public transportation project and is part of a commitment that Massachusetts has made to bring a level of environmental justice to communities that have been negatively impacted by the Big Dig. The recent announcement by MassDOT that the Green Line Extension will be delayed 5 years or more past its scheduled 2015 completion date is not acceptable, and has been met by a great deal of resistance from both the public and their elected representatives.

I encourage you to join Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, State Senator Pat Jehlen, State Representative Denise Provost, myself, and others that will be in attendance for the event. Many community groups from Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, and across Massachusetts will also be in attendance, including the Conservation Law Foundation, Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership, East Cambridge Planning Team, Livable Streets Alliance, MASSPIRG, the Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance, and others, many of which have been intimately involved with the Green Line Extension project from the very beginning. It is important that we demonstrate the need for this project to get back on track. I hope to see you there.

Transfer Station to Leave Brickbottom Next Year

As was reported in the Somerville Journal earlier this week, Waste Management, which operates a waste transfer station in the Brickbottom area of Somerville, will be required to vacate its location on Poplar Street by October 1st, 2012. The eviction of the transfer station was a goal that Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone articulated in his 2011 State of the City address:

“We aim to reclaim the Brickbottom and this is an essential step to making that happen,” said Curtatone in a press release. “This represents an opportunity to build a new gateway to the city.”

[…]

The old Somerville municipal trash incinerator was built in 1907, according to “Beyond the Neck: The Architecture and Development of Somerville, Massachusetts,” and the tan-brick building survived the demolition that occurred all around it. Sometime in the 1990s, the building was converted into a trash transfer station, basically a depot on the way to dumps or incinerators. Read the rest of Andy Metzger’s October 4th, 2011 article on the removal of the transfer station.

This is exciting news for an area that has seen decades of stunted growth after most of the neighborhood was demolished to make way for the Inner Belt Expressway, a highway transportation project which was never completed. It is my hope that the future completion of the Washington Street station as a component of the Green Line Extension will pave the way for strong, mass-transit based redevelopment of the transfer station and surrounding areas.

As can be seen in the photo above, the close proximity of the transfer station to the planned Washington Street station makes it a prime area for mixed-use or residential development with excellent access to the Green Line and local bus service, and a short walk to shops, bars, and restaurants in Union Square. I am looking forward to seeing how this space will grow and change for the better in the coming years.

Public Meetings for the Month of October

Charles River Basin Connectivity Study

Three public meetings have been scheduled to discuss the Mass Department of Transportation and the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Charles River Basin Connectivity study. This study is being carried out as a way for MassDOT to closely examine the various gaps that preclude a seamless connection across Charles River Basin bridges, their sidewalks, and adjacent intersections. The connectivity of the path system throughout the Charles River Reservation will also be studied. These meetings will serve as an opportunity for the public to hear from MassDOT’s design consultant before the study is carried out. The focus of the presentation will be on an analysis of the existing conditions in the Charles River corridor that has already been carried out.

Meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

  • Tuesday, October 11, 6:30 to 8 PM, Shriners Hospitals for Children, 51 Blossom Street, Boston
  • Thursday, October 13, 6:30 to 8 PM, Community Rowing Boathouse, 20 Nonantum Road, Brighton
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 6:30 to 8 PM, Morse School Auditorium, 40 Granite Street, Cambridge
Green Line Extension Environmental Assessment

A public meeting will be held to discuss the Environmental Assessment of the Green Line Extension and potential interim project offsets that will be required due to the delay in the extension’s completion date. MassDOT will be taking suggestions for interim project offsets from the public, provided that suggestions conform to the following guidelines:

  • Proposed interim offset projects and measures have to be able to be in place by December 31, 2014.
  • Suggested projects or measures have to be within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, i.e., they cannot be private, local, or federal.
  • Quantifiable air quality benefits have to be associated with any potential interim offset project or measure.
  • Projects and measures that only reach their full potential once the GLX is in place are unlikely to work.
  • Proposed interim offset projects and measures are not required to be within the GLX corridor, but MassDOT understands the importance we put on this requirement.  It is worth noting here that for the Fairmount Line Improvement Project delays, MassDOT chose projects within the Fairmount corridor only.

This meeting will be held on:

  • Thursday, October 20, 2011, 6 p.m. open house, 6:30 p.m. hearing, Somerville High School, 81 Highland Avenue, Somerville

Residents Petition State for Clear GLX Plan

More than four hundred people have signed an online petition sponsored by the City of Somerville asking for a definitive plan for the Green Line Extension to be adopted. The recently-announced multi-year delay in the project, which will push back the estimated completion date as far as 2020, has increased the importance of obtaining a strong commitment from MassDOT, the MBTA, and the Governor about the future of the project.

If you are interested, please take a moment to sign the petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/greenline/

Multi-year Delays Expected in Green Line Extension Project

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced that the Green Line Extension, which was trending towards completion in October of 2015, is now expected to be delayed until 2018 at the earliest, and possibly until as late as 2020. In its annual State Implementation Plan (SIP) Status Report, MassDOT has declared that it will formally petition the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the Green Line Extension’s implementation, for a delay.

This comes as very disappointing news. The Green Line Extension is both a federally mandated component of Massachusetts’ State Implementation Plan for compliance with the Clean Air Act, and required mitigation for the effects of the Big Dig project. In order to bring the Massachusetts within compliance of the Clean Air Act, the Green Line Extension must be completed before December 31, 2014, or else the state will risk losing federal funding for any other transportation projects. Beyond being required by law, extending the MBTA Green Line through Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford is a key component of bringing long-overdue environmental justice to cities and its citizens.

MassDOT and the MBTA must now compile a list of reduction offset measures that will be implemented in order to mitigate the project’s delay. These measures will be established through a process that includes public input, and it is my hope that they will bring a meaningful level of environmental justice to the communities that the Green Line Extension will serve while the project is delayed.

In response to these developments, I will be meeting with members of the Green Line legislative delegation, Mayor Curtatone, and officials from MassDOT and the Patrick administration with the goal of finding more information about precisely why the delay is necessary, and to discuss how this delay will impact various phases of the project, such as the relocation of Lechmere Station.

I will be sure to provide an update about what the next steps are as soon as possible. As always, I welcome your input in the comments section below.

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