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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.
South Coast Rail Project
MassDOT is continuing its civic engagement on the South Coast Rail Project with a series of station area workshops.
New Bedford Whale’s Tooth and King’s Highway Stations
Freetown Station Area Workshop
Stoughton Downtown Visioning Workshop
Event flyers and other information are on the project website.
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.
Updated information will be posted on the project website.
The Road to Reform
Memorial Day Weekend Travel Alerts
MassDOT encourages travelers to plan ahead for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Historically, the heaviest traffic occurs Thursday, Friday, and Monday afternoons and early evenings. Drivers should make travel plans accordingly and if possible avoid peak traffic volumes between 1pm and 7pm on those days.
Traffic is especially heavy at the I-84 interchange at Exit 9 in Sturbridge on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and at Exit 11A, I-495, which handles cars headed south to Cape Cod and north to New Hampshire and Maine.
MassDOT will suspend all construction work on major arterial roadways from 12:00PM Noon on Friday, May 28 through the start of normal business on Tuesday, June 1.
MassDOT has several resources available to assist motorists. Before you travel, check the Interactive Traffic Cameras web page for live looks at current traffic.
And drivers are encouraged to sign up at the new 511 Traveler Information Service. The new 511 offers personalized travel information alerts via email, text or telephone. Drivers can access the new service by dialing 511 on their cell phones or logging onto www.mass.gov/511 to register and receive personalized updates. MassDOT reminds drivers to avoid using their cell phones while driving and encourages travelers to call into the 511 service before they leave.
Drivers are reminded to travel safely and avoid distracted driving such as using cell phones. Check out the USDOT Distracted Driving page for tips and news. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has distracted driving information here.
To save time, money and gas, motorists who have not yet done so are encouraged to join FAST LANE to avoid waiting in line at cash toll booths.
Free coffee will be served at the 18 MassDOT service plazas from 10 pm Monday night through 5 am Tuesday morning.
New, Improved 511 Traveler Information Service
Governor Deval Patrick and MassDOT this week announced the launch of a new Massachusetts 511 traveler information service that for the first time is available to travelers throughout the state.
Beginning this week, 511 traveler information will be expanded statewide and drivers will have the opportunity to receive personalized travel information alerts via email, text or telephone. Drivers can access the new service by dialing 511 on their cell phones or logging onto www.mass.gov/511 to register to receive personalized updates. MassDOT reminds drivers to avoid using their cell phones while driving and encourages travelers to call into the 511 service before they leave.
The new 511 is the result of an innovative public-private partnership with Sendza, a growing Massachusetts communications-software company, and will come at no cost to the state, resulting in $4.1 million in one-time savings and $1.2 million in annual savings for MassDOT. Previous 511 service only covered communities in eastern Massachusetts.
The legacy 511 system handled approximately 500,000 calls per month. The Sendza-based Mass511 system is capable of not only maintaining this volume of calls, but also allows room for significant growth as the system's user base expands. Sendza's software-as-a-service message platform provides Mass511 message services and defrays costs by packaging marketing programs from sponsors. The initial sponsor of the new Mass511 is Massachusetts based Safety Insurance.
3 Key Steps for Using the New 511 System for the First Time by Phone:
3 Ways to Personalize Routes on the New 511 Service:
Governor Highlights Mass Works Investments: Brightman Street Bridge
Governor Deval Patrick joined local leaders in Fall River to highlight over $240 million investment in road and bridges projects currently under construction and announce an additional $850,000 to support a phase II planning study to examine issues surrounding the possible removal of the elevated portions of Route 79 to open waterfront property for potential redevelopment and possibly tie into the South Coast Rail project as a potential station location. The road and bridge projects complement the Governor's commitment to moving the South Coast Rail project forward as a key economic development opportunity for the Fall River region.
During Wednesday’s visit, the Governor toured the $186 million Brightman Street Bridge replacement project, one of the largest projects in the Commonwealth. He also received an update on other important projects in Fall River, including the multi-phased maintenance and repair projects planned for the Braga Bridge. A $14 million painting project on the Braga Bridge currently underway is funded by the Governor's Accelerated Bridge Program to reduce the inherited backlog of structurally-deficient bridges.
The Fall River projects are among the more than 385 road and bridge projects ongoing across the Commonwealth this summer. The Patrick-Murray Administration's investment in roads and bridges totals more than $1 billion and will sustain more than 10,000 jobs. The road and bridge projects are a part of the more than $4 billion infrastructure investments being made as part of the Administration's Massachusetts Works initiative putting nearly 20,000 people to work across the Commonwealth this construction season.
The Brightman Street Bridge project is a four-phased effort to relocate Route 6 over the Taunton River connecting Fall River and Somerset. The new double drawbridge stretches 1,700 feet from the east abutment in Fall River to the west abutment in Somerset and stands a quarter-mile north of the existing bridge. Built in 1906, the current bridge handles 45,000 vehicles per day.
Massachusetts doubled its investment in road and bridge construction in just three years, to more than $1 billion. As a result of these investments, particularly the Accelerated Bridge Program, the number of structurally deficient bridges in the Commonwealth has dropped nearly 10% in two years. At the same time, MassDOT 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.
MassDOT Developers Initiative Receives "Smart Solutions" Award
ITS America, the nation's leading advocate for technologies that improve the safety, security and efficiency of the nation's surface transportation system, this week presented the MassDOT Developers Initiative with an ITS America Smart Solution Spotlight award. The award recognizes MassDOT for its public-private collaboration that has significantly expanded the distribution of transportation information to the general public – at minimal cost to Massachusetts taxpayers.
Since July 2009, the MassDOT Developers Initiative has led to the development of tens of thousands of dollars worth of website and mobile customer information applications that help Massachusetts travelers navigate the MBTA, RTAs, and Massachusetts roads.
ITS America recognized the MassDOT Developers model because of its low cost, which allows the strategy to be replicated by transportation agencies or other government bureaucracies around the nation. By acting as wholesalers rather than retailers of transportation information, these agencies can more effectively and efficiently deliver information to customers, encourage private investment and economic growth and spur new innovations.
As the leading voice for the use of smart technology to address our nation’s transportation challenges, the ITS America Smart Solution Spotlight award highlights the best and most innovative use of intelligent transportation systems to address national and regional transportation challenges.
MBTA: Customer Service Campaign
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 visits a selected station or bus depot to listen to customers concerns, and promote public transportation.
MBTA managers are 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 is the date and location for the next session.
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.
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