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On the Trans Blog
Farmers Markets Are Back!

MassDOT's annual Farmer's Market Program returns this weekend and continues 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.

Fed Stimulus: Hyannis Ferry Terminal

The $3.5 million federal stimulus ARRA project made Hyannis Ferry Terminal Slip Improvements. The project was completed this spring a year ahead of the original schedule due to the efforts of the contractor, AGM Marine Contractors, Inc.

The Steamship Authority serves Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and operates regular year-round service from the Hyannis terminal to Nantucket.

Check out MassDOT Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal stimulus projects on an interactive map on the web.

Berkshires Bridge Benefits Travelers, Wildlife

Sometimes a bridge project fixes more than the bridge. Governor Patrick's Accelerated Bridge Program is putting the finishing touches on a bridge project which has restored use of McNerney Road in Becket for travelers and Shaker Mill Brook for wildlife.

Green Line Extension Workshops

MassDOT continues to hold a series of Green Line Extension Land Use Workshops in Medford, Cambridge and Somerville in May and June. The meetings are intended to gather public ideas and suggestions for the areas around future MBTA Green Line Extension stations.

Scheduled events:

Cambridge:
Wednesday, May 26, 6:30-8:30 pm, Kennedy Longfellow School Cafeteria, 158 Spring Street

Somerville:
Saturday, June 12, 10:00am-3:00 pm, Argenziano School, 290 Washington Street

Updated information will be posted on the project website.

The Road to Reform

Mass Works: Chelsea Street Bridge

Governor Deval Patrick this week visited the Chelsea Street Bridge project to highlight the jobs created by the MassWorks initiative to invest billions of dollars improving transportation infrastructure and the report just released showing the Massachusetts overall economy gained 19,000 jobs in April.

This construction season MassDOT road and bridge projects will support more than 10,000 jobs on 385 separate projects across the Commonwealth. MassDOT’s investment in roads and bridges totals more than $1.085 billion for FY2010, more than double FY2007 spending of $515 million. These investments are the result of combined impact of the Accelerated Bridge Program, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and Statewide Road and Bridge Program.

The $116 million Chelsea Street Bridge project involves the replacement of a truss-type structure that spans 450 feet and will provide 175 feet of vertical clearance when raised. The new bridge and approach roadway match the footprint of the existing bridge and will provide for four lanes of traffic two pedestrian sidewalks. The existing bridge is scheduled to be closed from July through December in 2011, with completion scheduled for spring 2012.


Key Boost for Green Line Extension

MassDOT this week joined Congressman Michael Capuano and Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone in announcing an agreement on a new preferred site for a maintenance and storage facility needed for the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford.

Supported by the City of Somerville and elected officials throughout the Green Line Extension corridor, the new site is located in the Inner Belt area of Somerville and is known as 'Option L,' due to its L-shaped configuration. The new location eliminates many of the negative neighborhood impacts associated with the original site proposed by MassDOT, and presents the best opportunities to further long-term planning and development objectives in the area.

The selection of the Option L site is the culmination of a community planning process that engaged community advocates, local residents, business people and elected officials at all levels with MassDOT planners and engineers. MassDOT has received valuable input throughout the planning process and will continue to work with interested individuals and organizations, including municipal officials and staff, on specific design elements of the facility.

The Option L site makes possible the future redevelopment of the areas closest to the Green Line Extension corridor, and the creation of long-term transportation connections between the Inner Belt and Brickbottom neighborhoods.

Learn more about the Green Line Extension project, including information about upcoming public meetings.


RMV: New Customer Service Steps

In anticipation of the annual summer increase in customers at the MassDOT Registry of Motor Vehicle branches, Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan and Registrar Rachel Kaprielian unveiled three measures expected to reduce wait times for registry services.

Due to the millions in savings already realized from the historic transportation reforms underway, MassDOT is taking immediate steps to put 42 additional customer service representatives behind front-line branch counters and train 37 college interns to handle license and registration renewals in branches. In addition, after a successful pilot program it will move to permanently open three new branches in AAA Southern New England offices with Saturday hours.

In the last 18 months, MassDOT RMV has made the online branch the busiest by adding a dozen new transactions to the website which resulted in 39% more customer traffic. Three of the busiest RMV branches now feature self-help kiosks dedicated to plate returns and cancellations. At the Springfield branch, first-time drivers and those looking to convert their out of state license can now schedule appointments after completing the paperwork online - a service that will be expanded to other select branches by the end of the year.

While these initiatives helped take 150,000 customers out of RMV branch lines last year, it is not enough to keep up with the increasing demand for registry services during historically high volume times. It is expected that adding counter staff and interns will help branches process transactions more efficiently and reduce wait times.

The RMV also piloted a year-long program with AAA in which basic license and registration renewal services were offered to the Association’s 2.3 million Massachusetts members at two of their offices in Worcester and Newton. By July 1, the RMV anticipates expanding the service to three AAA offices in Worcester, Plymouth and Framingham bringing back Saturday hours.

MassDOT's RMV division serves more than 4.7 million licensed drivers and handles 5.9 million vehicles. Visit the RMV virtual branch online.


Mass Bike Friendly Rank Rising

Posted by Catherine Cagle, MassDOT Manager of Sustainable Transportation

Massachusetts has another reason to celebrate Bay State Bike Week! We just got great news from the League of American Bicyclists that Massachusetts has excelled in their third annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings – the League has named Massachusetts the 15th most bicycle-friendly state. We jumped ahead four places from our 2009 ranking of 19th, which earned Massachusetts an Honorable Mention Award.

This has really been a team effort, and MassDOT extends special thanks to all of our partners in regional and municipal government, and in the bicycling advocacy community. We at MassDOT are particularly proud of our recent efforts to support and promote bicycling, including the adoption of Complete Streets design standards in the 2006 Project Development and Design Guide; the completion of the 2008 State Bicycle Transportation Plan; and the promotion of the Bay State Greenway, a statewide network of on- and off-road bicycle routes recommended in the Bike Plan. And this year MassDOT is partnering with MassBike and local and regional partners to make Bay State Bike Week a statewide celebration, in another demonstration of our commitment to bicycling.

When we launched the Healthy Transportation Compact with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, MassDOT set the goal for Massachusetts to move into the League’s top ten Bicycle Friendly States, and in one year we are halfway to that goal. We are very proud of this ranking, and we are committed to continuing to advance bicycle transportation and moving Massachusetts to the top of the Bicycle Friendly States list.

Check out the League’s Bicycle Friendly State 2010 BFS Rankings Rankings List, complete with BFS awards, and a breakdown of how all Massachusetts relative to other states in each evaluation category.


Fed Highway Leader Views Tunnels

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez met with MassDOT Secretary Jeff Mullan in Boston this month to discuss transportation issues- and get a first hand look at the Metropolitan Highway System and the Ted Williams tunnel. MassDOT provided Mendez a briefing of the status and closeout plan for the Stem to Stern Review of the System and the review by the USDOT Office of Inspector General.

In the photo at left, Mendez and MassDOT Division Engineer John McInerney are viewing an ongoing long term load (creep) test on an epoxy anchor in the Ted Williams Tunnel exhaust air plenum. MassDOT Highway Division Administrator Luisa Paiewonsky and MassDOT District 6 Highway Director Helmut Ernst were among those joining FHWA Administrator Mendez, Associate FHWA Administrator King Gee, and FHWA Division Administrator Lucy Garliauskas in discussions during the visit. Secretary Mullan explained the Central Artery Tunnel and airport connections using a map printed on his tie. Mr. Mendez also toured the MassDOT Highway Operations Center with Superintendents Eric Podolski and Michael Fitzpatrick.


MassDOT Highway Capital Spending Plan Draft

MassDOT is pleased to provide a draft of our inaugural 5-year Capital Investment Plan for the MassDOT Highway Division. The plan includes an overview and analysis of the planned sources and uses of funding to be invested in the roads, bridges, shared-use paths/ facilities, and ancillary infrastructure statewide. One of four public hearings held across the Commonwealth will be held next week at the following location:

Tuesday, May 25 - 6:00 - 7:30 PM
Town Hall (Memorial Building)
150 Concord Street, Framingham, MA

The draft document is available here.

You are encouraged to review the draft and submit comments by mail, phone or E-mail:

MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning,
10 Park Plaza, Room 4150,
Boston, MA 02116
617.973.7313
TDD 617.973.7089


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.

Ruggles Thursday, May 27 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
North Station Thursday, June 10 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Visit MBTA on the web for news and updates.


MassDOT Board June Public Meeting

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors will hold its next public business meeting on Wednesday, June 2, 1:00pm, State Transportation Building in Boston. Going forward, the MBTA Board will meet first at 1pm, followed by the MassDOT Board. All meetings are open to the public.

The meeting schedule is available on the MassDOT website.