MassDOT initiates suspension of Urban Ring environmental review.
2. Archie’s report.
Archie Mazmanian reports with editing and comments from Bob La Trémouille.
At the recent meeting of the Urban Ring Citizens’ Advisory Committee, MassDOT Chair / Secretary Mullan indicated an intent to end environmental review of Urban Ring phase 2, fancy buses. Secretary Mullan has followed up.
2. Archie’s report.
Jeff Mullan's 1/22/10 response to EOEEA has been posted at the Urban Ring website. It runs 5 pages and should be read with care by those interested in Phase 2 of the Urban Ring. The bottom line of the letter is that it "... suspends any further MEPA review on the Project and withdraws the Project from the Special Review Procedure." We'll have to await a response from EOEEA to get a better understanding of what such suspension and withdrawal will mean environmentally as MassDOT does proceed with certain portions of Phase 2 that will include Bus Rapid Transit.
Mullan's letter makes no reference to rail or to Phase 3. Nor does there appear that much will be done regarding the Longwood/Fenway area, which continues to expand with increasing traffic and transportation issues. While the letter talks about continuing the Citizens Advisory Committee role, conferring with stakeholders and ABC business and institutional members, no specific reference is made to how the public will be involved during such suspension and withdrawal from MEPA. This raises the issue of transparency, which of course is part of accountability.
Mullan's letter includes this: "Indeed, our analyses show that, if current trends are left unchecked, both the Green Line and the Red Line could be operating over capacity during the peak hour by the year 2030." Over the years I have heard transportation experts say, in connection with a real estate project's impact on traffic and transportation, that the roads have "capacity" for the project. I asked such an expert at a public meeting if "capacity" means just short of gridlock. The expert responded with a smile. Many riders of the Green Line and the Red Line might think that capacity will be reached much sooner than that for those Lines - and they're not smiling.
Archie’s closing comments are of major importance.
The need to get people off the downtown portion of the Red and Green Lines during rush hour is the reason I have been working on this project since the mid-80's.
That goal cannot be achieved with less than a Heavy Rail urban ring subway line being constructed to connect the Rapid Transit spokes and give people a MEANINGFUL alternative to going into town.