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On the Trans Blog
MassDOT Civic Engagement: Across the Commonwealth

MassDOT is committed to customer service and civic engagement, and I am pleased to inform you of a busy week next week for bridge project public hearings and meetings.

MassDOT: Capital Spending Public Meetings

MassDOT is holding public meetings across the state in May on development of a five-year capital spending plan. The capital spending plan is required by the 2009 transportation reform legislation. The public meetings held by MassDOT's Office of Transportation Planning will provide an overview of capital spending's role, describe asset management systems now in place, and discuss next steps, with comments solicited from the public.

Marblehead Project Boosts Pedestrian Safety

Governor Deval Patrick this week announced $400,000 in state transportation funds to support Route 114 Pleasant Street corridor improvements from Village Street to Smith Street in Marblehead.

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 Road to Reform

Federal Stimulus Highway Projects Touch Every Corner of Commonwealth

MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan and Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan this week officially kicked off the latest highway project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act- a $1.7 million federal stimulus project to resurface a section of Route 37. The project is one of 84 ARRA highway projects that will create jobs in every corner of the state by repairing broken roads, supporting long-term economic development and creating more sustainable communities.

The Braintree ARRA project involves the cold planing and resurfacing of Route 37 from the Holbrook town line to the Peach Street intersection, including new sidewalks and wheelchair ramps.

In February, the Governor announced that his Administration had obligated its entire $437.9 million allotment of ARRA highway funding a full month ahead of schedule.

MassDOT has reduced the time from construction contract advertisement to construction start by more than 43 percent - a drop from 218 days in 2008 to 124 days in 2009. For ARRA projects, the timeline from construction contract advertisement to notice to proceed was reduced to 48 days, allowing MassDOT to put people to work on construction projects faster than ever before.

Check MassDOT's automatically-updated interactive web map for the latest information about all American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) transportation projects.

US DOT Secretary Touts New England Rail Vision

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined Connecticut's Governor and Congressional leaders along with MBTA GM Richard Davey in riding the morning train from New Haven to Hartford, touting federal investment in New England's Vision for High Speed Rail service.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Springfield, joined the group at the state capitol in Hartford to discuss the regional multi-state rail plans working with Amtrak to enhance commuter service between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield and north to Vermont.

The U.S. DOT in January awarded Massachusetts $70 million for final design and construction of the "Knowledge Corridor" along the Connecticut River rail line in western Massachusetts, a competitive federal stimulus grant award as part of the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program.

Connecticut and Vermont received separate grants totaling $90 million to upgrade the New Haven to Springfield and Vermont portion of the line. The result will be improvements all along the corridor serving the Amtrak Vermonter line, with service rerouted to provide a more direct route, faster service and restored access to the cities of Northampton and Greenfield.

MassDOT's Rail & Transit Division will oversee the Connecticut River line project construction, which is expected to take approximately two years and begin during the 2010 construction season. Learn more about MassDOT's Hi-Speed Intercity Rail projects.

MassDOT's McGrath "Person of the Year"

MassDOT's Mike McGrath, the Highway Division Deputy Chief Engineer for Construction, is this year's Construction Management Association of America "Person of the Year" for the New England Chapter.

McGrath, seen on the right with Governor Deval Patrick, is praised by the CMAA for "the reputation that you have developed locally within our challenging industry."

Highway Administrator Luisa Paiewonsky and Chief Engineer Frank Tramontozzi in nominating Mike says he "turned the MassDOT Highway Construction Division into a billion-dollar enterprise that is well-managed, efficient, and clearly focused on our safety and infrastructure improvement missions."

As construction spending doubled in recent years while staffing levels did not keep pace with the program expansion, Paiewonsky and Tramantozzi wrote, "It is difficult to imagine how we could have met this challenge without Mike's expertise and dedication."

McGrath's leadership helped MassDOT improve and streamline business practices, reduce the construction contract cycle time by 70 percent, better coordinate design and construction, reduce by 55% contractor change orders, triple the number of "on-time" projects in the past year, and develop the Highway Division's Design-Build initiatives that dramatically reduce project timeframes.

"Mike is a conscientious public servant, a highly competent and effective manager, and an outstanding leader in the construction profession," the nomination letter stated. "He has made countless and vital contributions to the construction industry and to the public alike. While he always deflects praise to his staff and rarely takes credit for his actions, we can attest to the respect he commands from his fellow managers and colleagues for his enormous contributions to the Commonwealth's improved transportation infrastructure."

MassDOT and MBTA Priority: Safe Construction Projects

For MassDOT and the MBTA, safety is a top priority, for customers and for our employees and construction crews.

The March rapid response by MBTA crews to the flood-related track washout in Newton, left, is a dramatic example of putting safety first for riders and workers.

With the regular construction season now in full swing, the T continues to focus on construction site safety.

The Federal Transit Administration offers several construction safety priorities, including:

  • providing safety education for staff and construction crews
  • making sure everyone on site follows a project's Safety Management Plan
  • providing a safe route for the traveling public including pedestrians and bicyclists at all construction locations.

Visit MBTA and the FTA on the web to learn more about construction projects and safety. MassDOT offers a comprehensive list of transportation safety tips here.

MBTA: Customer Service Campaign

Newly appointed MBTA General Manager Richard Davey continues his "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, 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.

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.

Visit MBTA on the web for news and updates.

MBTA Contest: Rename Bike Cages

The MBTA has announced a public contest to Rename the Bike Cages. Current T Bike Cage locations are Alewife and Forest Hills with more coming, including one at South Station. The winner of the Rename the Bike Cage contest will receive a one month subway pass and a new folding bicycle, courtesy of Back Bay Bicycles.

Contestants may fill out a ballot online or mail a hard copy ballot printed in the Boston METRO to:

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, 45 High Street, Boston, MA 02110, attn: Erik Scheier, Project Director for Operations.

All submissions must be received by 6:00pm, Wednesday, May 5. The winner will be notified and invited to an MBTA kickoff event at South Station on Monday, May 17th, 1:00pm, South Station.

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.