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On the Trans Blog
Route 9 Reconstruction Progress

The $12.5 million Route 9 reconstruction project is rolling along at a rapid pace with over $1 million dollars worth of work accomplished in just the last two week period. The federal stimulus ARRA-funded project team provides the latest information including weekly schedules on the project web page. Message Boards throughout the project area are updated daily to keep motorists informed.

The next few weeks will see the project move into a phase of raising roadway structures such as catch basins and utility covers in preparation for final roadway paving. This work will be done at night and there will be construction jack hammering sounds during the work.

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.

"Duck" Bridge in Lawrence to Close for Construction

MassDOT this week closed the Duck Bridge over the Merrimack River in Lawrence to all vehicular traffic to allow the major elements of the bridge reconstruction to proceed. The closure will remain in effect through mid Summer 2012. Pedestrian access will be available during this time through the use of a temporary pedestrian bridge installed on the east side of the existing bridge.

Drivers affected by the closure will be detoured using Merrimack Street, Parker Street, Amesbury Street, Lawrence Street and Essex Street to the adjacent river crossing at the Casey Bridge. Traffic leaving from the area of the Lawrence General Hospital will be detoured using Prospect Street, Marston Street and the lower portion of the double decker O’Reilly Bridge to Merrimack Street.

This project is part of MassDOT's Statewide Road and Bridge Program.

The Road to Reform

MBTA New Commuter Rail Locomotive Purchase

The MBTA Board of Directors this week approved the purchase of 20 new diesel electric locomotives for commuter rail service. The $114.6 million contract with Motive Power Inc. of Boise, Idaho will deliver the new locomotives beginning in 2013.

The acquisition of new locomotives is a high priority for the MBTA and is a critical element in improving commuter rail performance and service.

The MBTA operates a fleet of 80 revenue service locomotives, the oldest of which were manufactured between 1978 and 1980. Overhauled in 1989, these locomotives were programmed for retirement in 2005. The purchase will allow the MBTA to remove the 20 oldest and least reliable locomotives from service, eliminating associated armature and traction motor failures.

In addition to realizing increased reliability, the MBTA will significantly reduce locomotive emissions. The new units will be required to meet “Tier 3” emission standards as regulated by the EPA. Advancing the delivery of this cleaner technology will reduce fuel consumption by approximately 730,000 gallons per year and will reduce the following in emissions per year; particulate Matter – 26 tons, Hydrocarbons – 38 tons, and Oxides of Nitrogen – by 924 tons. The reduction in fuel consumption will save an estimated $1.5 million annually. Visit MBTA on the web to learn more and purchase commuter rail tickets.


Lowell Bridge Opens 21 Months Ahead of Schedule

A successful working partnership between MassDOT and its contractor and an innovative approach to the work have delivered the ultimate positive result: a bridge reconstructed and reopened 21 months ahead of schedule and under budget. MassDOT and project contractor MAS Building and Bridges of Franklin began construction in April 2009 to replace the Morton Street bridge over the B&M Railroad in Lowell. The project with an original budget of $2.65 million proposed closing the bridge to vehicles during reconstruction but maintaining pedestrian access to local schools and neighborhoods by doing the work in two phases. The completion date was originally scheduled for March 2012.

During the early stages of the project, the contractor MAS Building and Bridges proposed and MassDOT approved placing a temporary pedestrian bridge next to the existing bridge to allow reconstruction to be completed in a single phase. The temporary bridge costs were borne by the contractor.

MAS Building and Bridges and Project Superintendent Ed McInnis worked cooperatively and seamlessly with MassDOT's Construction Staff led by Resident Engineer Dan Boland and his assistant, Desire Manirakiza, to complete the project smoothly, swiftly and under the original budget. The bridge reopened to traffic on July 9.

Local constituent John Mullen of Lowell praised the contractors and MassDOT teamwork and hard work, saying, "They and the state engineers on the project did everything they could to make the ten households effected feel as comfortable and informed as possible. I can't remember a day that they were not on the job and working. Shoveling snow on the weekends so the pedestrian access was walkable to being there when the weather was downright miserable. They were always there working. They truly deserve some recognition for a job well done."

Congratulations to the contractor, workers, and MassDOT staff members.


RMV/AAA Partnership Opens Branch in Plymouth

MassDOT officials opened the second of three RMV branches in AAA Southern New England offices with this week's opening in Plymouth. A branch at AAA offices opened in Worcester last week, with a third opening soon in 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 launched the new service at AAA in Plymouth. A third office at AAA Framingham will also host an RMV branch beginning July 21. 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 will be 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.


Green Line Extension Update

Posted by: Kate Fichter, Green Line Extension Project Manager

MassDOT last week submitted an annual report to the Department of Environmental Protection on the status of the mass transit projects required under the State Implementation Plan, including the Green Line Extension. While completion of the Green Line Extension is now tracking slightly behind schedule, MassDOT and the MBTA remain deeply committed to the project for the many benefits it offers, particularly environmental, transportation, and economic development benefits. MassDOT will continue to work with the Department of Environmental Protection and the public to develop appropriate air quality mitigation for the period of delay.

We are pleased to announce that the most recent Green Line Extension Project Fact sheet for June 2010 has been posted to the project website. It is available for download here.

The project website has also been updated to include a memo from the Central Transportation Planning Staff. This memo contains information about the methodology and data sources that were used to show the geographic boundaries of the Medford Hillside area, as discussed in Appendix C of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).

The comment period for the FEIR is still open. The document is available on the project website. You can view a copy here. The FEIR is also available at area libraries, City Clerks’ Offices, and by request to Regan Checchio at 617-357-5772 and rchecchio@reginavilla.com. All comments will be due to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office by July 23, 2010. Please visit the project website for information on how to comment to the MEPA Office.

More information about the Green Line Extension project, including information about upcoming public meetings, can be found at www.mass.gov/greenlineextension


MassDOT Board August Public Meeting

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors will hold its next public business meeting on Wednesday, August 11, 1:00pm, in the MBTA Board Room, Suite 3910, State Transportation Building, Boston. 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.