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Romney says MBTA expansion in works

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Romney says MBTA expansion in works

Capuano hits lack of progress

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff | November 10, 2004

Governor Mitt Romney says he needs more time to plot an orderly lineup of MBTA expansion projects as the state faces a possible lawsuit over its failure to improve the transit system as required under the approval for the Big Dig.

But the Bay State's lone representative on the House Transportation Committee, US Representative Michael Capuano, said the Romney administration needs to put together a definitive plan quickly or risk losing federal money.

"My job to fight for Massachusetts is made more difficult when the state cannot determine what projects should move forward," Capuano wrote in a letter to the governor, citing a Boston Globe report on several projects that have fallen behind schedule.

An environmental group, the Conservation Law Foundation, says it will file a lawsuit in January alleging that the state has failed to meet the commitments in a 1990 agreement to improve the transit system, as a condition for building the Big Dig.

When first asked about the lawsuit after a news conference Monday, Romney said he was not familiar with it. When told it concerned expanding the transit system and asked whether he supported that, the Republican governor said, "The answer is yes, but it's a question of timing."

He said all future transportation projects will be spelled out in a "25-year plan" that the administration is putting together.

"Governor, your administration has been saying for well over a year now that a list of priority transportation projects is being developed . . . meanwhile, deadlines come and go, and the question of how the state will help pay for future transit projects remains unanswered," Capuano, a Somerville Democrat, wrote in the letter, dated Monday. "A long-term plan for prioritizing our state's transit needs is long overdue. When will this plan be finalized and released?"

State Transportation Secretary Daniel A. Grabauskas said yesterday that a draft of the long-range plan should be ready by early next year.

"We're doing something that's never been done -- a statewide, multimodal transportation plan," Grabauskas said."I make no apologies for being deliberate in coming up with a thoughtful draft. To criticize the administration for [not] achieving that goal based on someone else's time line is just counterproductive."

Under the 1990 agreement, which was updated in 2000, the state was required to modernize the Blue and Orange lines, submit an environmental impact report on the Urban Ring, and provide Silver Line bus service to Logan Airport before the end of the year. The state won't make any of those deadlines.

The state is also legally bound to build the Green Line extension to West Medford and a Red-Blue line connector underneath Cambridge Street in Boston and to restore trolley service on the Arborway line in Jamaica Plain. But Grabauskas said those projects need to be revisited to determine whether they are worth doing.

From The Boston Globe

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They MUST build the Green line expansion to West Medford. I personally believe the Urban Ring will be a disaster and a misallocation of scarce resources if they build it. I would rather see the T extended to New Bedford and Fall River, and maybe even Gardner, Milford, and Millis. Hell, why not build it to Woonsocket? The Red-Blue line connector is worth it too.

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It seems that commuter rail expansion to TF Green Airport is mandated as part of Big Dig mitigation. It struck me funny that projects in another state could be mandated from the Big Dig. Rhode Island will obviously have to pay for a good share of that expansion.

I'd love to see a Providence > Woonsocket > Worcester line. I'm not sure how much use it would get though. However, the 146 corridor is just going to keep getting more and more crowded, and if trains went to South County in Rhode Island, there could be demand.

I think the Urban Ring would be a worthy project if it were heavy rail or light rail subway, but it looks like the T is hell bent on spending billions for BRT. There's already buses serving most of what would be the Urban Ring. They should just make slight modifications to those routes, and focus the big money where it'll do the most, Blue to Lynn, Green to Medford, Arborway, Red/Blue Connector, Fall River/New Bedford...

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When is the expansion of the subway going to finally happen. There has been enough focus on commuter rail expansion over the last decade. Subway service is in a serious need to expand. Green line extension to Medford, a Must. Urban Ring has been a long time coming. I agree that it will be a contruction nightmare/political mess getting is done, but it is needed. My question is what about a harvard to Brighton/Brookline link.

And what about the indigo line in to Dorcester/Mattapan. There is already a commuter rail line that only stops a few places in these areas. There movement on putting in more stops and line more frequently, but still it will be commuter rail.

Why can't they just make it a light rail line. How much money do they need? The line is not use by other rail lines. They could purchase some diesel light rail vehicles and reserve a couple of tracks at south station.

As you can tell I think that there should be more of a focus on urban development of tranist. Not to say that commuter rail hasn't been worthwhile and effective. From an economical view point, while subway construction will be expensive. Instantly, ridership will be high and development will follow where ever it is built. Take the Red Line extension in 1984 for example.

Junk projects. Arborway restoration. I grew up in JP and I can remember taking the train downtown as a kid, I think they were the old PCC. So at first I was in favor of bringing them back. But having moved back here recently, it now seems to be a waste of money. JP already has the orange line (in a few places, four blocks from the route) and while the 39 bus is the most heavily used in the entire metro area, restoring the trolley would be a mess. Centre street is to narrow, traffic is always bad. Before it might have seemed worthwhile, because the 39 bus was alway crowded, but this past summer they brought in the 60ft articulated CNG buses, which provide a lot more capacity, etc. Ok my ranting is over.

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Couple of things:

1. No diesel light rail, bad mojo, we have enough smog around boston and electricity is cheaper than diesel on a per HP basis.

2. Arborway: the 39 bus is overloaded, WAY overloaded. And in places like Philadelphia and Toronto where LRT is used to replace buses ridership immediately runs up 20% (maybe more in Philly) when LRT is introduced.

-p

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Couple of things:

1. No diesel light rail, bad mojo, we have enough smog around boston and electricity is cheaper than diesel on a per HP basis.

2. Arborway: the 39 bus is overloaded, WAY overloaded.  And in places like Philadelphia and Toronto where LRT is used to replace buses ridership immediately runs up 20% (maybe more in Philly) when LRT is introduced. 

-p

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Agreed about the enviro effects of diesel. But one step at a time. The T has no money, so you got to do things on the cheap. Exstablish the light rail line, then hopefully the money will come to electrify the line.

Arborway- Normally I am all about LRT, but... the arborway is different. Did the Philly and toronto lines establish their LRT in the middle of a busy, narrow business district. While these problems can be over come with good planning and design (can this be done in Boston? ;) ), when it comes down to it, I don't think the arborway should be a priority project. There are a lot of other areas in Boston that need rail transit more than JP, ie Somerville, Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, Urban Ring, etc.

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> Agreed about the enviro effects of diesel. But one step at a time.

> The T has no money, so you got to do things on the cheap.

> Exstablish the light rail line, then hopefully the money will come to electrify the line.

I'm not sure of the numbers, but the T could use existing vehicles and the electrification would probably be cheaper over all than new diesel vehicles. I'd bet an FTA grant could be had for electrification too. In a place like the Boston (or at the T), once you do it wrong, it stays wrong.

> Arborway- Normally I am all about LRT, but... the arborway is different.

It is different, but not any more so than say, Girard St in Philly.

> Did the Philly and toronto lines establish their LRT in the middle of a busy,

> narrow business district.

Yes, Girard St (Rt 15) in Philly. Actually only idiosyncracies of the Philly planning process are preventing the 59th street section from being finished.

> While these problems can be over come with good planning and design (can this be

> done in Boston? ;) ),

I concede this one ;-)

> when it comes down to it, I don't think the arborway should be a priority project.

It was agreed to and ordered and we cant just say, "Oh, other things have come up"

> There are a lot of other areas in Boston that need rail transit more than JP, ie

> Somerville, Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, Urban Ring, etc.

Well, I'd be all about extending streetcar service from Arborway to Roslindale then down to Mattapan and linking up with the Mattapan "High Speed" line. In fact, My company is getting a quote from VHB to do a feasibility study on just that and we are considering "donating it" to the people of Mattapan and HydePark as a publicity stunt come spring.

I watch ridership on the buses down Cummins Hwy and up Hyde Park Ave and Washington streets and they are well used, I'd bet it would shoot way up with LRT. I can think of four areas off the top of my head that would be high volume stops, Roslindale Square, Cummins and Hyde Park Ave, Cemetery Plaza, and Mattapan Square. But it would all require a good link to Longwood and Forest Hills.

Not to mention really boosting the shopping in those areas. Lets face it, people wont ride a bus to go to a cute shopping area no matter how cute, but they will ride a streetcar.

And one item in terms of planning; there is NO need for silly platforms on Center St or super expensive "low platform" Breda LRVs. Philly has upgraded their workhorse Kawasaki LRVs and good old PCCs with wheel chair lifts. They just stop at the cross walks and "kneel" like a bus would.

:

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I'm not sure of the numbers, but the T could use existing vehicles and the electrification would probably be cheaper over all than new diesel vehicles.  I'd bet an FTA grant could be had for electrification too.  In a place like the Boston (or at the T), once you do it wrong, it stays wrong. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The Old Colony and Worcester lines should be electrified anyway, do Fairmount at the same time (and NB/FR) and the economy of scale saves money. Old Colony was rebuilt with future eletrification in mind. The NEC is already electrified due to Amtrak. Extensions into South County in Rhode Island should use electric trains to increase speed and reduce headways.

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> It is different, but not any more so than say, Girard St in Philly.

Any where I can find some info on this?

>> when it comes down to it, I don't think the arborway should be a priority project.

>It was agreed to and ordered and we cant just say, "Oh, other things have come up"

I hate to break it to you, but the DEP and MBTA are trying to let this project fade into the sunset. It has gotten big resistance from the business community along the route and I would be shocked to see these agencies try to impose the extension on them without coming to some sort of agreement on a plan.

When it comes down to it, I would love an extension of the LRT and it would be cool as well to send it down Hyde Park ave, but I don't think anyones has the proper political capital to do it right. Way to many activists in JP, all trying to make their mark.

As for the Urban ring, Phase 3 is LRT or Heavy rail from Assembly Sq to Dudley. Unless the Silver Line by some miracle suceeds :lol: , I can't see the MBTA getting away with selling another BRT system to the public, especially because some powerful interests will demand better service (ie, Fenway park, Longwood, Kendal)

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I-93 toll option impossible, officials say

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff | January 13, 2005

An environmental group's suggestion of tolls on Interstate 93 to raise money for transit projects is entirely unworkable, state officials said yesterday.

Even if places could be found to put toll booths on the Southeast Expressway and on I-93 north of Boston, federal rules forbid the use of toll revenue for anything other than the roadway where the tolls are levied, said Jon Carlisle, spokesman for secretary Daniel A. Grabauskas.

''The money has to go back into the road they're on. It can't go toward transit or health care or education," Carlisle said. ''That's a concrete and unbendable federal law."

In announcing a federal lawsuit yesterday to force the state to expand and improve the mass transit system, Philip Warburg, president of the Conservation Law Foundation, said that additional funding for transit projects could come from tolls on I-93. ''Those who ride the T pay for their mobility. Why should car commuters not be called upon to do the same?" he asked.

Warburg said later that funds raised from tolls would free up funds that would otherwise be spent on the highways and that money could be redirected to transit. He also suggested that the state could use $1.5 billion in annual transportation bonds and $500 million in annual federal funding.

''It falls to the Commonwealth to come up with the appropriate financing mechanisms," Warburg said.

The lawsuit -- and parallel suits being filed by Somerville, Medford, and proponents of the Arborway trolley restoration in Jamaica Plain -- accuses the state of breaking commitments to expand and improve the MBTA system, spelled out in a 1990 legal agreement paving the way for the Big Dig. The transit projects are supposed to provide alternatives to driving and thus reduce air pollution.

The commitments include the restoration of the Arborway line ($71.9 million); the restoration of the Greenbush commuter rail line through the South Shore ($479 million); a Red-Blue line connector downtown ($174 million); the extension of the Green Line from Lechmere to West Medford ($375 million); service to T. F. Green Airport in Rhode Island ($42.8 million); new cars and station modernization for the Blue Line ($233 million); new cars and signal modernization for the Orange Line ($367 million); Silver Line bus service to Logan ($10.5 million); and an environmental study of the proposed circumferential project known as the Urban Ring ($12 million).

The Greenbush project is underway; none of the projects is completed. The Arborway restoration was due in 2000. The Green Line extension and Red-Blue connector are due in 2011, and proponents say the state hasn't lined up the funding for them or moved aggressively to get the projects on a firm schedule.

Carlisle said that the availability of funding is not the central issue in the state's ongoing review of which of the projects are worth doing. ''The Romney administration is pro-transit," he said. ''The financing is not in place right now but it doesn't have to be. That will happen."

From The Boston Globe

''The Romney administration is pro-transit,"

The only evidence I've seen that the Romney administration is "pro-transit" is Romney himself and his minions continually saying they are. Meanwhile we have work proceeding on Route 2, Route 128, and The Sagamore Flyover was sped through, and still nothing for transit. Seems like a lot of hot air to me.

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From The Boston Globe

The only evidence I've seen that the Romney administration is "pro-transit" is Romney himself and his minions continually saying they are. Meanwhile we have work proceeding on Route 2, Route 128, and The Sagamore Flyover was sped through, and still nothing for transit. Seems like a lot of hot air to me.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree, I just cant see how Romney is pro-transit. It just doesnt suit him. He's too cozy with suburban voters and policy and seems to focus more on this area of MA. I dont like this guy, we need a new governor.

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I agree, I just cant see how Romney is pro-transit.  It just doesnt suit him.  He's too cozy with suburban voters and policy and seems to focus more on this area of MA.  I dont like this guy, we need a new governor.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think the area that needs T expansion the most is the Somerville area.. Also, the Watertown area would be another place that would greatly benefit from a T expansion... Right now, the only way into the city is bus lines, and they go via I-90.. Yikes..

I don't understand the pressing need for the W Medford Green line, as there is a comnuter rail stop right there..

The TF Green extension is already underway I thought.. They are building it right now.. I haven't been there, but an Amtrak guy told me that..

I think an Urban Ring would be a total waste... And why can't you get a train THROUGH Boston?? You can only go to South Station, find your way to North Station, and then go north or vice versa..

Best governor ever by the way... :thumbsup: I am still amazed he got elected in such a ridiculously liberal state like MA..

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I don't understand the pressing need for the W Medford Green line, as there is a comnuter rail stop right there..

Simple -- the commuter rail line doesn't stop anywhere between West Medford and North Station! The Green Line extension would provide intermediate stops in Somerville and Medford -- Cobble Hill (Washington St), Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square, Tufts, Medford Hillside, perhaps others.

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Lawsuit looms over T's plan to drop promised connector

February 6, 2005

A conservation group is challenging the MBTA's attempt to back away from a connector from the T's Red Line to the Blue Line.

The T, strapped for money and burdened by debt, has said it cannot build several intended projects, including the connection at the Charles/MGH station, which was estimated to cost from $174 million to $220 million.

The Conservation Law Foundation has filed a federal notice of intent to sue the state to make good on its long-promised mass transit commitments, including that connector, which would ease the commute from Cambridge to East Boston and Logan Airport, and from the North Shore to places like Massachusetts General Hospital.

''These projects have been on the books since 1990," says Carrie Schneider, a Conservation Law Foundation staff attorney.

Her position: Such projects were the tradeoffs mass transit advocates insisted on in return for their support of the Big Dig. ''Only as we approach the due date, as the highway project is nearly done, is the state trying to back out of these mitigation measures," she says. ''The state can find the money for a balanced transportation system."

From The Boston Globe

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I'd love to see a Providence > Woonsocket > Worcester line. I'm not sure how much use it would get though. However, the 146 corridor is just going to keep getting more and more crowded, and if trains went to South County in Rhode Island, there could be demand.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Unless people are commuting from the center of Providence to the center of Worcester for a particular purpose there, all the traffic on 146 is randomly distributed among destinations around the two locations.

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I really don't think a Providence-Worcester line is appropriate right now. Like BostonFaker said, most of the traffic on 146 is local. 146 even isn't that crowded, but I have only gone from Worcester to I-295 on it. The Worcester section of 146 has been undergoing massive reconstruction for years now, and it has already made a world of difference. Why double up and have a rail line too? It just seems unnecessary.

We should be optimizing how we use our resources allocated for transit, and improve exisitng services first. Then start expanding the T in Somerville and West Medford (this will also free up the commuter rail, as the West Medford stop can be eliminated and travel times will decrease). Also build the Greenbush Line and Fall River/New Bedford lines. Maybe expand the Blue line to Lynn, as this too will ease congestion on the North Shore T, as some commuter rail stations can be eliminated.

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