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On the Trans Blog
Old South Church CEO, MBTA Pledge Cooperation
Rev. Dr. Nancy S. Taylor

The Rev. Dr. Nancy S. Taylor, Senior Minister & CEO of Old South Church in Boston, posted a comment on the Transportation Blog responding to a newspaper article about construction activities related to the renovation and accessibility of the Copley MBTA Station.

Green Line Extension Public Meeting

MassDOT has announced a Public Meeting on the Green Line Extension project maintenance facility alternatives will be held at the following date, time, and location:

Honors for South Coast Rail Planning
By Kristina Egan, South Coast Rail Project Manager

Governor Patrick's commitment to the South Coast Rail project and the hard work of so many people in planning for this effort are now being recognized. I am pleased to tell our transportation blog readers that the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association has announced that the 2009 President's Award for Outstanding Planning goes to South Coast Rail's Economic Development and Land Use Corridor Plan.

MBTA: Happy Ending to Kenmore Cat Story

MBTA employees report a happy ending for a cat that spent the last half of 2009 making a home at the Kenmore Station. T workers and riders noticed the cat living at the Station since mid-summer. Employees took care of the cat from afar with food and water, even as they and animal rescue groups tried to catch the cat and bring it to safety.

The Road to Reform

MBTA: Safety, Security Firm Hired

Acting swiftly to address the issues raised in David D'Allesandro's review of the MBTA, the T this week executed a contract with one of the transit industry's most respected safety and security consulting firms. Transportation Resource Associates (TRA) will perform an independent assessment of the MBTA's evaluation and prioritization of capital projects, with a focus on safety issues. Philadelphia-based TRA has been providing expertise and solutions to transit agencies throughout North America for nearly twenty years.

"Safety and customer service must be our top priorities," said Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan. "The MBTA and MassDOT have moved swiftly to address the findings of the D'Allesandro report by developing an action plan that will protect our customers today and well into the future."

The assessment will address the key points raised in the D'Allesandro report:

  • The T's process of identifying, evaluating, and prioritizing capital and renewal projects for vehicles and infrastructure. This will include an examination of nearly 60 projects referenced in the D'Alessandro report as "safety critical."
  • The T's process for mitigating existing and potential infrastructure and vehicle issues.
  • The adequacy of the MBTA Safety Department's roles and procedures in ensuring that safety matters are addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.

TRA has committed to providing the MBTA with an interim report in February, and a final, written report in March.

Federal Stimulus: Revere Parking Garage

Governor Deval Patrick joined Congressman Ed Markey, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Mayor Tom Ambrosino this week in announcing the Wonderland parking garage project in Revere is moving forward with federal stimulus American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds along with MBTA bond revenue financing.

The funding plan gives the green light to begin construction in 2010 of the planned $47 million, 9-story, 1,900 space South Garage Parking Facility at the T's Wonderland Station on the Blue Line that will support Waterfront Square, left, a critical smart growth and transit-oriented development project.

The garage will improve access to the T and is a key phase one component of Waterfront Square, a planned mixed-use community of 902 residential units, 145,500 square feet of office space, a 100-room hotel and 28,000 square feet of retail space. Waterfront Square will create an estimated nearly 700 permanent jobs, with the parking garage creating an estimated 500 construction jobs.

The MassDOT Board last week authorized the $22.7 million award of federal stimulus ARRA funds and $11.3 million in MBTA bond revenue financing toward the project. The additional funds supplement federal and state funding previously allocated. Financial analysis indicates that parking revenues from the new garage will exceed the cost of the MBTA's borrowing and in fact will generate additional net revenues.

MassDOT Responds to First Winter Snows

MassDOT snow and ice crews, both state-operated and hired crews, have responded successfully to the first two winter events of the season. More than 2,900 crews and 600 MassDOT employees cleared the State Highway System and Interstates including I-90 throughout the day Wednesday, with crews from the former MassPike and MassHighway working together on all state roads.

Drivers are reminded of basic winter driving rules if out during winter weather:

  • The road in front of a plow is usually in much worse condition than the roadway behind the plow.
  • Plows travel under 35 miles per hour and it is recommended to stay a safe distance behind snowplows and avoid the temptation to pass them.
  • Motorists should drive with headlights on, observe posted speed limits, never drink and drive, make sure everyone is using a seatbelt and be on the lookout for changing weather conditions.

Check the MassDOT traffic page for traffic cameras and traffic alerts.

More information on winter driving is available at the MassDOT website.

MassDOT Board Sets 2010 Public Meeting Schedule

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors today released its schedule of 2010 business meetings. Meetings will be held in Springfield, Lowell, and Brockton, along with Boston. All meetings are open to the public.

The meeting schedule is available on the MassDOT website.

MBTA: Dramatic Drop in Subway Speed Restrictions

MBTA this week announced that track maintenance forces have reduced speed restrictions on the MBTA's Subway Lines to record low levels as of last month. The MBTA measures the track condition impacts on the customer in minutes added to the scheduled trip time because of speed restrictions. The T's speed restriction impacts on the entire Subway system for November were eight minutes and 42 seconds, down from a high of 135 minutes in the Summer of 2003.

With a customer-driven focus on reducing subway travel times, MBTA Maintenance of Way crews have been working around the clock to make the track repairs necessary to lift the restrictions that force train operator to lower their speeds.

Lowell I-495 Bridge Project Moves Forward

The Patrick Administration's I-495 Lowell Bridge Bundle Project to replace six bridges, taking place as part of the historic $3 Billion, eight-year Accelerated Bridge Program, reaches another milestone.

Beginning today, Friday, December 11, construction crews working on the I-495 Lowell Bridge Project will work within the area that was closed in early November to demolish one half of the bridge over Woburn Street.

Work will take place overnight tonight from 11 pm to 6 am on Saturday morning. As a safety precaution Woburn Street beneath the bridge will be closed during this time. The work zone beneath the bridge will be configured to allow emergency vehicles to pass if required.

To minimize disruption to the surrounding Woburn Street neighborhood, the project team has compressed the bulk of this construction work, which will have noise impacts, to Friday night only.

The Accelerated Bridge Program represents an historic investment in the repair and replacement of structurally-deficient Massachusetts bridges. The program will boost safety while creating hundreds of construction jobs on bridge projects.

Learn more about the Lowell Bridge Bundle project and view photos of the project on the MassDOT Flickr page. Check the Accelerated Bridge Program website for information about all ABP projects.