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Anderson Bridge Public Meeting Set

A public meeting for the proposed rehabilitation of the Anderson Memorial Bridge has been scheduled for the following time and location:

Thursday, July 22,
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School Auditorium
100 Putnam Avenue, Cambridge

The purpose of this meeting is to provide an update on the design of the proposed rehabilitation of the historic Anderson Memorial Bridge and answer questions and gather public comments. The design team will provide further detail regarding the environmental review and design processes.

The project will repair deteriorating elements of the bridge, upgrade structural capacity and improve local street connections and accessibility. The proposed rehabilitation will respect the historic status of this landmark structure and preserve as many of the original elements as possible. Built in 1915, the Anderson Memorial Bridge is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places as an integral and contributing component of the Charles River Basin Historic District. It is a key Charles River crossing between Cambridge and Boston and the primary connection between two Harvard University campuses.

MBTA: Faster, Easier Parking

The MBTA announced a simpler system for parking lot payments that will allow everyone from daily commuters to visitors to use their mobile phones and an online account to pay for parking at MBTA lots.

Beginning July 23rd, customers parking in MBTA-owned and operated lots with existing cash honor boxes will be able to pay for parking online or via phone while in their cars or once they board a train, bus, or commuter boat.

As part of a new partnership with Parkmobile USA, customers can visit www.parkmobile.com and enroll in the new program for free, and have access to their on-line accounts 24 hours a day/7 days a week. T riders can also download a mobile app.

Green Line Extension Work Group Announced

MassDOT announced the members of a newly formed Working Group to assist the agency and the MBTA with issues related to Green Line Extension station design, general construction, and other community concerns.

Eighteen people were chosen from among more than 100 people who applied in response to an invitation from MassDOT and the MBTA. They represent the full length of the Green Line Extension corridor and also include MBTA, MassDOT, cities of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford and Tufts University representatives.

The Road to Reform

MassDOT RMV Partnership Expands Branch Service

MassDOT officials Thursday opened the first of three RMV branches in AAA Southern New England offices with Saturday hours in Worcester, with openings to follow soon in Plymouth and Framingham. The initiative to offer basic licensing and registration services to AAA members followed a successful year-long pilot program with MassDOT's RMV Division.

Registrar Rachel Kaprielian and AAA Southern New England President & CEO Mark A. Shaw joined Worcester area legislators to formally launch the new service at AAA in Worcester. Other branches will open July 14 at AAA Plymouth and July 21 at AAA Framingham. All three offices will offer their members the opportunity to renew their licenses and vehicle registrations during regular business hours which include Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

AAA has successfully provided RMV services in Rhode Island and Connecticut for several years and the start of the permanent program in Massachusetts is expected to be a popular benefit for AAA members.

Registration and driver license renewals are available at the three AAA locations during regular business hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. AAA Worcester is located at 25 Mountain Street East, AAA Plymouth at 29 Home Depot Drive and AAA Framingham at 653 Worcester Road (Route 9).

In the past two years, MassDOT RMV has made the online branch the busiest by adding more than a dozen new transactions to the website which resulted in 40% more customer traffic. Recently, the RMV unveiled its latest online transaction, giving permit holders the ability to schedule road tests online. Last month, the RMV added another feature that allows drivers to cancel their license plates online rather than turning them in at a branch.


Governor Highlights Lowell I-495 Accelerated Bridge Project

Governor Deval Patrick this week joined local leaders in Lowell at the I-495 Bridge Bundle project that will replace six major bridges carrying northbound and southbound traffic on I-495. The $36.8 million project is being funded by the Governor's landmark eight-year, $3 billion Accelerated Bridge Program to repair deficient and obsolete bridges across the Commonwealth and is moving forward on an accelerated timeline using an innovative "design-build" streamlined construction contract process.

The "Design/Build" project initiated in fall 2009 is replacing the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 495, which carry approximately 65,000 vehicles per day in each direction. The replacement of six bridges originally built nearly 50 years ago includes two bridges that span the MBTA Lowell Commuter Rail line, two that cross Woburn Street and the remaining two that pass over the Concord River. Three lanes are operating at peak hours at all times in both directions for the duration of the project, including crossover lanes for traffic management purposes. Much of the work is being done at night to minimize inconvenience to the traveling public. Full completion of the project is scheduled for June 2011.

Additional information is available at MassDOT's Lowell Bridge Bundle website.

Since the Patrick-Murray Administration filed legislation approved by the Legislature creating the $3 billion Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP) in 2008, the number of structurally deficient bridges has dropped from 543 to 494, a decline of nearly 10 percent. As a result of ABP alone, 13 bridge projects are already complete, with a total of 62 bridge projects scheduled for construction this season. Over the course of the program, at least 200 bridges will see active construction.


Governor Signs Safe Roads Bill

Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation that bans text-messaging for all Massachusetts drivers, prohibits junior operators from using cell phones and institutes new license renewal procedures for mature drivers, among other provisions.

Under the new law which takes effect in October, any driver caught composing or reading a text message can be cited and fined $100. Operators of public transportation vehicles who violate the ban will be subject to a $500 fine. Law enforcement will have the authority to stop any driver suspected of texting. However, the offense will not be considered a moving violation and will not be subject to an insurance surcharge.

Drivers under 18 cited for using any type of cell phone or mobile electronic device with or without a hands-free feature will be subject to a $100 fine and a 60-day suspension of their driver's license. Offenders will also have to complete a driver attitudinal course before their license is reinstated. Massachusetts is the 29th state to ban dangerous driving behavior.

The MassDOT Registry of Motor Vehicles will also require any driver age 75 or older to renew their license in person at an RMV branch or office location and undergo a vision test every five years. The division will also develop standards to help law enforcement, health care providers and families better assess a driver's ability to handle a vehicle safely.

Additionally, under the new law, any driver who acrews three or more surchargeable incidents within a two year period will be required to take a driver retraining and safety course or face the suspension of their license.

This comprehensive legislation is the result of significant input and support from advocates for safe roads and safe driving including AAA, Safe Roads Alliance, and members of the Safe Roads Now Coalition, along with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and other elder services advocates.

MassDOT RMV Division serves more than 4.6 million drivers at 30 branch locations and online at www.mass.gov/rmv.


MBTA Ridership Grows

For the first time since the fall of 2008, MBTA ridership has increased for three consecutive months, from March through May of this year. Average weekday ridership system-wide for May 2010 increased by 3% over May of last year, totaling 1.262 million passenger trips per weekday. In May, an average of 36,000 more passenger trips were made across all modes of MBTA services each weekday.

Continuing improvements to the Massachusetts economy and employment levels are considered by many analysts to be the most likely drivers of these ridership increases.

The MBTA’s bus and subway systems experienced the most significant increases in ridership. Average weekday bus ridership in May of 2009 was 354,700, but it jumped to 378,500 in May of this year. Many bus riders are benefitting from the availability of a feed of real-time bus locations and arrival predictions. Building on a successful pilot for five bus routes last month, the T has now made real-time information available this summer on 12 additional bus routes. Such information is now available to one-third of MBTA bus riders.

On the Red, Blue, and Orange Lines, average weekday ridership rose from 475,600 in May of 2009 to 490,000 this May. Visit MBTA online for schedules and tickets.


MassDOT Board July Public Meeting

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors will hold its next public business meeting on Wednesday, July 14, 1:00pm, in Lowell. 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.