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On the Trans Blog
Fed Stimulus Funds Hire Rail Employees
MassDOT, MBTA, and the Mass Bay Commuter Rail company (MBCR) announced the hiring of a diverse group of 15 employees with funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeff Mullan, MBTA interim General Manager Bill Mitchell, and MBCR General Manager Richard Davey joined the new workers at an orientation, above.
Cape Canal Task Force Tackles Traffic
MassDOT announced creation of the Canal Area Regional Traffic Task Force to build consensus on the immediate, near-term, and future transportation needs related to ongoing traffic congestion at the two canal bridges in the Cape Cod region.
The Road to Reform
Mullan: Priority on Diversity
MassDOT Transportation Secretary and CEO Jeff Mullan told Thursday's Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS) luncheon that pursuing efforts to create a more diverse workforce will be a top priority in driving change at the new MassDOT.
Mullan told the WTS group that the new MassDOT includes many high ranking women and minority employees in leadership positions, including Highway Division Director Luisa Paiewonsky, and he promised several steps to recruit a diverse group of prospective employees, including assigning a human resources professional to the task.
"We promised the public that we will run our transportation system in a way that mirrors how our customers use it, and to do that we need employees who reflect our population," said Mullan.
"We have to do better in two specific ways – recruitment and promotion. Past, perhaps well-intentioned efforts at recruiting qualified diversity candidates for good positions in transportation have failed. MassDOT will have a recruiter dedicated to this effort and our talent management effort aimed, in part, at identifying good leadership candidates from within the organization. We also have culture issues within transportation that need to be addressed. I have met with the Latino Alliance and Employees for Civil Rights and understand at least some of the problems we face. The bottom line is that we must stop managing these issues at the surface."
Secretary Mullan also told the group that "status quo is easy, change is hard" in the ongoing effort to transform the new Massachusetts Department of Transportation. He said other priorities in promoting change will include reviewing staffing and reassigning talented employees and emphasizing the commitment to an open and transparent way of doing business.
"We are trying to redeploy talented people," said Mullan. "I want to stop the cycle of training our best people to leave and make public service honorable and exciting."
Mullan said MassDOT's multi-faceted transparency and outreach program includes the newly-designed website, electronic newsletter, the Transportation blog and use of Twitter and Flickr to reach customers, along with face-to-face meetings including Tuesday evening meetings with stakeholders.
Massport Approves Tobin Bridge Transfer
The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) Board voted to transfer ownership of the Tobin Bridge to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). The vote paves the way for transfer of the 2 1/4-mile-long span on January 1, 2010. The transfer is another milestone of the state's historic transportation reform legislation signed by Governor Deval Patrick.
The transfer of the Tobin Bridge to MassDOT means that for the first time all major state roads, bridges and tunnels will be managed by one unified transportation organization.
Massport personnel led by Bridge Director Mary Jane O'Meara worked closely with the MassDOT Highway Division in recent months to integrate the Tobin Bridge into the state highway system.
On November 1, 2009, four camera feeds from the Tobin Bridge were added to the MassDOT Traffic Camera website where commuters and visitors can view real-time traffic feeds from Highway Division cameras on key routes throughout Massachusetts. Camera feeds from the Tobin Bridge have also already been integrated into the MassDOT Traffic Operations Center where employees monitor and respond to traffic congestion and accidents on the state's roadways, tunnels and bridges.
The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) operates Boston Logan International Airport, the Port of Boston, Hanscom Field and Worcester Regional Airport. Learn more about Massport.
MassDOT Reform: Bridge Project Streamlining in Methuen
Transportation Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan announced the reopening of the Route 28 over Route 213 bridge replacement project in Methuen, a streamlined MassDOT Highway Division project substantially completed 17 months ahead of the original schedule.
"Our team is committed to the kind of innovation and hard work that makes achievements like this expedited bridge opening possible," said Governor Deval Patrick. "We are completing projects ahead of schedule here in Methuen and across the Commonwealth, and that's great news for our residents and businesses."
The $10 million project involved complete replacement of the four-lane Route 28 (Broadway) bridge over Route 213. Crews earlier this summer demolished the existing bridge and constructed a new two-span steel superstructure bridge with five-foot sidewalks.
MassDOT Highway Division working with the contractor S & R Corporation, Lowell, streamlined the project by using two temporary bridges for traffic, allowing the work to be completed in a single stage. This move reduced the work schedule by a full year with opening expected in April 2010 rather than 2011. However, work progress continued at a quicker than expected pace and the bridge has now opened 17 months earlier than first planned.
While delivering more projects, the MassDOT Highway Division has reduced consultant procurement times from 18 months to 5.7 months and reduced construction procurement time by 45 percent. MassDOT continues to reform design and construction timelines, including an aggressive program to reduce the time it takes to reconstruct and rehabilitate bridges, and has entered agreements with environmental agencies to streamline the permitting process. Learn more about MassDOT's Highway Division projects.
Reform: Developers Challenge Winners, Real-Time Bus Data
MassDOT last weekend announced the winners of the 2009 MassDOT Developers Challenge at the first annual MassDOT Developers Conference. The Challenge inspired developers to create both mobile phone applications and data visualizations based on open data feeds provided on the MassDOT Developers Page.
MassDOT also announced the release of a Real-Time XML Trial Feed of MBTA bus locations on five of the MBTA's most popular bus routes. The feed includes data for bus route 39 which serves Jamaica Plain, the Longwood Medical Area, and Back Bay in Boston; and bus routes 111, 114, 116, and 117 which serve Haymarket Station, East Boston, Chelsea, and Revere. Developers will be able to access the feed and incorporate the real-time information into mobile phone and web-based applications that help MBTA customers know the actual location and estimated arrival of their bus.
The winner of the Application Challenge was the MassTransit iPhone application, built by Cambridge-based Sparkfish Creative. The winner of the best Data Visualization was James Kebinger, for his artistic representation titled "MBTA in Motion" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6Ye1AvMGtY). The Challenge winners receive a CharlieCard valid for one year of free travel on MBTA buses and rapid transit.
Second place in the Application Challenge went to OpenMBTA, a free and open source iPhone application that helps users navigate the MBTA's system (http://iphonembta.org/). Second place in the Visualization Challenge was awarded to a team of three local residents, for their work, "A Day in the Life of the MBTA".
The Conference built on MassDOT's historic step toward openness and transparency through creation of the MassDOT Developers Page. MassDOT previously reached out to developers, holding a developers' meeting and engaging the community through Twitter and Google Groups, and hopes to expand its data and incorporate more information in real-time. More information is available at the MassDOT Developers Page.
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