Today I joined dozens of legislators from around Massachusetts in riding the T to work as a part of “Gov on the T,” a project focused on raising awareness about the problems facing our public transit system.
Many of my constituents have called or written me in recent months to express their profound frustration with the current state of public transit in Greater Boston. Though this winter has made the poor state of the MBTA’s equipment obvious, regular transit riders know that our system has difficulties year-round. Much of this is due to aging and obsolete equipment that is overdue for replacement. Unfortunately, continued budget problems at the T have hampered new investment and led to fare increases for commuters. Without new revenue or a reduction in expenses, the ability for the T to serve as a foundation of our region’s economy will continue to be at risk.
For this reason, I support alleviating the T of some of the so-called “Big Dig Debt” as a way to reduce pressure on its budget. While this debt is associated with legitimate public transit projects that were built as a part of Big Dig mitigation agreements, it continues to contribute to budget deficits that keep the T from making needed investments in signaling systems and other equipment that directly impact service quality. Shifting this debt obligation to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund would provide over $100 million in relief to the T every year.
While we still have a lot of hard work to do in order to achieve the public transit system that we want and deserve, I also think that it is important to acknowledge some of the recent victories we have achieved in pursuit of this goal. Two years ago, the legislature passed transportation financing legislation that helped jump start investment in equipment and system expansion. Since then, the T has entered into a contract for the purchase of 284 new subway cars in order to upgrade to the aging Red and Orange Line fleets. Delivery of the new cars is scheduled to begin in 2019, and will provide substantial reliability improvements for Red and Orange line riders.
This transportation financing legislation also helped secure a $1 billion New Starts grant from the federal government for the Green Line Extension. This grant is absolutely critical to extending Green Line service to areas of Somerville that have been the most chronically underserved by mass transit. It also brings with it the purchase of new Green Line cars and the construction of a new Green Line maintenance facility, which will serve Green Line riders system-wide.
As someone who believes that public transit is an essential public good, this winter has been difficult and at times discouraging. For that reason, I want to thank everyone who has called, written, or stopped by my office to advocate for a better transit system. Your voices have helped bring this issue into focus for elected officials across Massachusetts, and it is essential that we keep the conversation going.
The City of Somerville and the MBTA are hosting a Green Line Extension (GLX) public meeting regarding the Medford Street Bridge Construction on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 6 PM. It will be held at the Public Safety Building (220 Washington Street) in Somerville.
GLX construction is underway and will involve periodic traffic impacts near the Medford Street Rail Bridge for the next six to eight months. The MBTA and the City of Somerville will present the construction schedule for the Rail Bridge area, and all associated traffic diversions at this meeting. Also, the GLX team along with Barletta Heavy Division, Inc., Phase 1 contractor for the GLX Project, will present other information followed by a Q&A.
For more information about the GLX project, please visit this link or email the GLX team at: email@example.com.
When: Thursday July 31, 6:00 PM
Where: Public Safety Building, 220 Washington Street, Somerville, MA
The MBTA will hold a public hearing to review an Equivalent Facilitation Request by the Green Line Extension (GLX) on Thursday, July 10, 2014. The hearing will be held at the Dr. Albert F. Argenziano School at Lincoln Park, 290 Washington Street, Somerville, MA from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm in the cafeteria.
The Equivalent Facilitation Request is required as part of the project’s application for a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
“Equivalent facilitation” permits the FTA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations to accommodate innovation in accessible design. It allows the development of improvements in vehicle, facility, or equipment design that provides for equal or greater accessibility, but would not strictly meet the required design standards. Equivalent facilitation is covered under federal law by 49 CFR Part 37.
Increasing accessibility is a key goal of the GLX project, but due to sloping roadway conditions near several of the stations, there are a few isolated instances where station designs currently do not comply with design standards created by the ADA. In order to deviate from these standards, the MBTA must do so in a way that provides equivalent or greater access, and receive a “determination of equivalent facilitation” from the FTA administrator.
This hearing is an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the MBTA’s application for a determination of equivalent facilitation before the MBTA formally submits it to the FTA. A draft of the application is available for review on this link.
For more information about the GLX project, please visit this link or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
When: Thursday July 10, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Where: Cafeteria at Argenziano School at Lincoln Park, 290 Washington Street, Somerville, MA
The Green Line Extension is seeking public art submissions for its first three stations, including the redesigned Lechmere station. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
The first three stations on the new Green Line Extension—Lechmere, Union Square, and Washington St.—are approaching the 60% design threshold, and now, MassDOT is looking for local artists to help make these stations beautiful. Artists are encouraged to submit their designs for public art at the new Green Line stations, and everyone who’s interested should strongly consider attending a prequalification/information session on Thursday, February 6 at 5pm at the GLX Project Office (100 Summer St., Suite 250, Boston). You can read the full Request for Qualifications here.
All applicants will need to apply through MassDOT’s online platform. All submissions are due by noon on Thursday, February 20. With the vibrant arts communities in Cambridge and Somerville, I know our local artists will come up with some brilliant designs!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Buses like this one will run between the Kendall Square and Park Street Red Line stops for the next two weekends. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
For the next two weekends, MBTA buses will be the only vehicles allowed on the Longfellow Bridge. Boston-bound vehicles should follow this detour, while Cambridge-bound traffic should follow this detour. If you’re a cyclist, this applies to you too, as police will be on hand to ask cyclists to walk their bikes across the bridge. Pedestrians, on the other hand, can cross the bridge as they normally would. I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you that there’s one more weekend closing in 2013, on November 23-24.
Why the complete shutdown of traffic on the bridge? In short, construction crews need to work close to the Red Line tracks, and it’s not safe to operate trains that close to workers.
As always, you can see MBTA service disruptions in real time with Service Alerts, and if you have any questions about the project, you can call the DOT’s dedicated Longfellow Bridge hotline at 617-519-9892.
The Longfellow Bridge will remain open to car traffic and Red Line trains next weekend. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
The MBTA has announced that a planned weekend diversion of Red Line and car traffic from the Longfellow Bridge has been cancelled, and a subsequent planned diversion has been postponed. In layman’s terms, that means cars and Red Line trains will continue to travel over the bridge next weekend, September 14-15. It also means that the diversion planned for the weekend of October 19-20 will be postponed to the weekend before Thanksgiving, November 23-24.
As always, you can find more information on the Longfellow Bridge project and traffic management plans at MassDOT. For questions, to report issues and concerns related to construction, or to be added to the project email distribution list, please call the project hotline at 617-519-9892 or email email@example.com. You can also receive MBTA alerts via Twitter and Facebook.