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On the Trans Blog
MBTA Internal Investigation Results: Safety First

The MBTA moved to take swift action in response to the results of an internal investigation that unveiled alteration of maintenance records for at least 200 buses in our fleet. First, I want to assure all bus riders that our buses are safe. As soon as the reporting alterations were uncovered we moved to perform safety inspections on our entire fleet of buses and confirmed that every bus where records were altered has since been thoroughly inspected, are safe and have not been involved in any prior accidents. In addition, our buses go through several redundant inspections for this reason.

MassDOT Community Forums Continue

MassDOT Community Forums continue in April as part of the You Move Massachusetts Civic Engagement Initiative. The dates and locations are below:

Tuesday April 20th, 6:00PM-7:00PM
Hyannis, Intermodal Center

The April 20 meeting in Hyannis will include an update on regional Highway Division projects along with a Regional Transit update. All community forums provide ample opportunity for questions and discussion.

Visit the MassDOT Information Center on the web to learn more about previous forum presentations.

Whittier Bridge Information Meeting Set

MassDOT will hold a Public Information Meeting for the Whittier Bridge/I-95 Improvement Project on Tuesday, April 27.

MBTA: Orange Line Public Meetings

The MBTA continues a series of public meetings to discuss the expansion of Single Person Train Operation to the Orange Line. Similar to Single Person Train Operation mode on the Blue Line, Orange Line motorpersons will perform all functions once shared with train attendants, including door operation and station announcements. The MBTA has successfully operated in Single Person Train Operation mode on the Blue Line since 1996 with no degradation to safety, service, or security.

MassDOT Plans Green Line Extension Work Group

MassDOT is forming a work group to assist in the Green Line Extension project's Preliminary Engineering phase. Project managers will bring together MBTA officials, municipal representatives, business representatives and local citizens to form the GLX Design Working Group.

The Road to Reform

Hines Bridge Rebuild Timeline Reduced

Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Steven Baddour and Representative Michael Costello this week announced that the timeline for reconstruction of the First Lieutenant Derek S. Hines Memorial Bridge has been further reduced to just under two years, rather than the originally scheduled three years.

The project was originally expedited to a two and a half year schedule, but using innovative construction project procurement techniques, the Patrick-Murray Administration's MassDOT Highway Division, in close collaboration with city officials, Senator Baddour, and Representative Costello, was able to cut another seven months from the construction timeline. The estimated timeline for closure of the bridge is now between 19 and 22 months.

The Hines bridge, which connects Newburyport with Amesbury, is a design-build project scheduled to begin in October and conclude in May 2012. The bridge will be closed for the duration of the project. It was named after First Lieutenant Derek S. Hines, a 25-year-old Army Ranger who was killed in 2005 during a firefight in Afghanistan. Lt. Hines grew up in Newburyport and Amesbury.

MassDOT is using the design-build method on a number of projects, compressing the traditional design-bid-build method into a single entity with contractors responsible for design and construction of a project. Working together, design and construction teams are able to complete projects within shorter timelines.

The $30.7 million project is being funded by the federal Highway Administration and the Commonwealth. The federal funding will pay for 80 percent of the project cost. The work consists of a major rehabilitation of the existing bridge, which carries Main Street over the Merrimack River. The work includes replacement of the deck system, new mechanical and electrical systems for the swing span, and rehabilitation of the stone masonry piers and abutments, wingwalls and sidewalk. The deck will be widened by 4.66 ft in order to accommodate requirements for traffic lanes, shoulders and sidewalk. This bridge abuts the Historic Chain Bridge, reconstructed by MassHighway in 2003.


Grafton Accelerated Bridge Project Honored- Early Completion

The Patrick-Murray Administration's innovative Pleasant Street Bridge project in Grafton has received the top Project Achievement Award for infrastructure projects valued at less than $10 million by the Construction Management Association of America, New England Chapter.

The award-winning $5 million Grafton project over the Blackstone River, funded by Governor Deval Patrick's historic $3 billion, eight-year Accelerated Bridge Program and managed by MassDOT, reopened to traffic in July 2009, left, many months earlier than planned thanks to an innovative Design/Build streamlined process.

The Pleasant Street Bridge project included numerous innovations, including design-build contract delivery, contract incentives for early completion, water diversion structures to allow substructure construction, and precast bridge structural elements.

The annual Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Awards are given to infrastructure and construction projects of varying sizes based on project value. The Awards Committee composed of professional construction managers considers safety, quality and cost management, innovation and creativity, and customer satisfaction in choosing the winning projects. CMAA has 6,000 members nationwide.

The Grafton project was the first of 15 current and future MassDOT projects already identified for the design/build delivery method. Others include the six-bridge reconstruction project along Interstate 495 in Lowell; the Whittier Bridge on Interstate 95 in Amesbury/Salisbury; and the Fore River Bridge in Quincy/Weymouth.

Check Accelerated Bridge Program progress on the web.


MBTA: Customer Service Campaign

Newly appointed MBTA General Manager Richard Davey announced he will kick off a "Join the GM" campaign, a back-to-basics approach that will include regular visits to MBTA station to listen and interact with daily commuters in person. On Thursdays, beginning yesterday in North Quincy and continuing for eight weeks, GM Davey along with the T's top managers will convene at a selected station or bus depot to listen to customers concerns, and promote public transportation.

Each week, MBTA managers will be available at the stations prepared to listen, respond, and follow up with customer concerns and recommendations. Upon completion of eight weekly sessions, "Join the GM" will continue on a monthly basis system-wide. Below are the dates and locations for future sessions.

Kenmore Station Thursday, April 22 7:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m.
Maverick Station Thursday, April 29 7:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m.
Forest Hills Station Thursday, May 6 7:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m.
North Station Thursday, May 13 4:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.
Haymarket Station Thursday, May 20 4:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.
Ruggles Thursday, May 27 4:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.
Dudley Square Station Thursday, April 15, 7:00 am 9:00 am

Visit MBTA on the web for news and updates.


MassDOT Priority: Road Safety

MassDOT's Road Safety Audit Program is highlighted in the Federal Highway Administration's Spring 2010 Newsletter on Road Safety Audits. Read the article below, and visit FHWA Road Safety Audit on the web.

Since 2007 MassDOT has conducted nearly 20 Road Safety Audits (RSA)s in locations identified as high lane-departure crash locations. The purpose of the RSAs was to identify short-term, low-cost fixes. In many instances, the identified countermeasures were installed or incorporated into larger projects. The countermeasures identified and recommended at these lane departure locations were often eligible for Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funding.

In 2008, MassDOT used RSAs to review high cross-median crash locations on divided highways, identify countermeasures, and prioritize projects for installation of barrier treatments. Cable barrier was recommended for four of the 20 locations and the installations will be constructed in the spring of 2010. Another two locations are presently under design.

The guidelines for Massachusetts HSIP Project Selection Criteria were finalized in December 2008. Recognizing the importance of RSAs,the guidelines state, "All HSIP candidate locations will require an accompanying Road Safety Audit (RSA) report, or an engineering or planning report to determine eligibility."

For the 2009 HSIP program, RSAs were conducted at nearly 20 locations. Although the 2010 HSIP program has not yet been fully determined, 9 RSAs have been conducted to date under the new selection criteria. MassDOT is working on a database to track RSAs and countermeasure implementation so that effectiveness can be measured and the program evaluated.

In 2010, MassDOT will continue conducting RSAs at potential HSIP locations. Additionally, due to a recent increase in pedestrian fatalities and injuries, MassDOT is planning on focusing on pedestrians in the upcoming year by conducting RSAs at high pedestrian crash locations. For more information, contact: Lisa Schletzbaum, Road Safety Audit Coordinator, MassDOT, (617) 973-7685, Lisa.Schletzbaum@state.ma.us


Visit Route 24 Exit 8B, Other MassDOT Project Community Web Pages

MassDOT has unveiled a new website to keep residents and businesses informed about the progress of the $39 million Route 24 Exit 8B federal stimulus project, the latest in a series of web pages to provide updates about major MassDOT projects.

The new Route 24 Exit 8B project website will be accessible via links municipal website links for Freetown and Fall River.

The project will create a new interchange, Exit 8B, in Freetown between the existing exits 8 and 9. The new interchange will reduce congestion at exits 8 and 9 and on South Main Street while providing access to the new Fall River Executive Park.

Construction is expected to begin on or about April 27, 2010. MassDOT encourages all members of the public to visit the project website and to sign up for construction milestone email bursts. These emails will provide recipients with information regarding major construction events, particularly those that impact on driving conditions on Route 24. The website will include information about the progress of the project and photographs.

For information and updates about the Route 24 Interchange 8B project, visit: www.mass.gov/massdot/route24exit8B.

Other MassDOT web pages are providing information about construction on the Neponset River Bridge Phase II here;

the Boston Dorchester Avenue reconstruction here- http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/arra/dotave.aspx;

and check the latest information on the Route 9 reconstruction project in Natick and Framingham here- http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/arra/route9.aspx


MassDOT Annual Farmer's Markets at Service Plazas

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced that the MassDOT's annual Farmer's Market Program will begin in May 2010, continuing through Fall 2010. Local Farmers are invited to take advantage of free vending space at the state's eighteen highway service plazas to sell their home-grown produce and made-in-Massachusetts products.

The Farmers market program has been a popular customer service for the last ten years on the 11 Massachusetts Turnpike service plazas and this year MassDOT expanded the Farmers Market program to include all eighteen (18) service plazas on state highways.

Complimentary vending space is made available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Massachusetts Turnpike service plazas located in:

  • Lee (east /west)
  • Blandford (east /west)
  • Ludlow (east /west)
  • Charlton (east /west)
  • Westborough
  • Framingham and
  • Natick.

New service plaza locations this year include:

  • Interstate 95 in Newton and Lexington
  • Route 128 in Beverly
  • Route 24 in Bridgewater (north /south)
  • Route 3 in Plymouth and
  • Route 6 in Barnstable.

Farmers can sell their goods as long as they do not compete with the businesses that operate within the service plazas.

MassDOT also assists in setting up the Farmers Markets and provides on-the-road messages featuring the Farmers Markets.

To date, there are currently farmers already signed up for Charlton East & West, Lee East, Blandford West and Westborough. Local farmers or customers who want more information are asked to contact program coordinator Dave Fenton at dave.fenton@state.ma.us or 413 572 3171.


MassDOT Board May Public Meeting

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors will hold its next public business meeting on Wednesday, May 5, 1:00pm, State Transportation Building in Boston. All meetings are open to the public.

The meeting schedule is available on the MassDOT website.