Friday, June 12, 2009

Urban Ring CAC, 6/10/09

Archie Mazmanian provides the following report on the Urban Ring Citizen’s Advisory Committee Meeting of June 10, 2009:

The CAC meeting of June 10, 2009, addressing EOT’s Notice of Project Change (NPC) required to be filed by June 30, 2009, was quite depressing. Prior to EOT’s Powerpoint slide show presentation, the CAC Chair Nally and Co-Chair Garver summarized a recent CAC Alternatives Subcommittee meeting that considered ABC proposals regarding the NPC. Co-Chair Garver presented what might have been a “majority” Subcommittee report followed by a CAC member from Somerville with what might have been a “minority” Subcommittee report. (I am not aware that this Subcommittee meeting was a public meeting. There was no indication of such on EOT’s Urban Ring website.)

EOT’s Ned Codd presented a dismal picture based upon realities of financial limitations. In effect he came up with what I have referred to on earlier occasions as EOT’s Plan B:

1. Use of the BU Bridge for Phase 2’s Charles River crossing; and
2. Surface routes – NO TUNNEL! – through the LMA/Fenway.

In addition, EOT’s slide show provided illustrations of Phase 2 segmented. Rather than attempt to describe them, those interested should periodically check EOT’s Urban Ring website for its anticipated posting of its presentation. [Note: Co-Chair Garver mentioned that EOT’s consultants contract expired at 2:30 PM on June 10th, which may impact activities on EOT’s website.]

Those who reviewed EOT’s RDEIR/DEIS are aware of “major impediments” described therein for various portions of Phase 2. In effect, these “major impediments” were repeated at this CAC meeting with subtle suggestions that not only have they not been resolved but perhaps may become more difficult to resolve, especially involving CSX easements critical to the Charles River crossing and accommodating Harvard’s Allston campus. I sense anxieties similar to the current situation nationally with General Motors and Chrysler that seems to get worse with time. The “Ring” may be breaking apart.

EOT’s required NPC will include responses to written comments from the public. These comments can be viewed at EOT’s website. For residents of Cambridge, Boston (especially Allston and Brighton) and Brookline who visit your Blog, I suggest a look at my comment letters at page 40 (27 pages) and at page 67 (2 pages), where I focus primarily on the Charles River crossing for Phase 2. While lengthy, my comments written in narrative form may be both informative and entertaining. The serious traffic and transportation issues involved with the BU Bridge on both sides of the Charles River impact these communities negatively as demonstrated on a daily basis. Just imagine the addition of the 60-foot articulated BRT buses to the current traffic.

There will be a public comment period, perhaps beginning July 8th, on EOT’s NPC that is to be filed by June 30th. Those interested should keep an eye on EOT’s website for postings. I had in an earlier letter described the requirement for the NPC as in effect a “do-over” of EOT’s RDEIR/DEIS. I can hardly wait.

During the public comment period for this meeting that ran quite late, Fred Salvucci provided some wise observations that may not be heeded. I also made some comments. In advance of this meeting based upon media reports on MA’s growing financial and ethical problems as well as on transportation issues, I came up with what might be considered a “sound bite” for the media if the media covered the Urban Ring and these CAC meeting, such coverage being non-existent. Accordingly my public comments included in substance:

“There is not enough POLITICAL VIAGRA in MA that would be required to straighten out the 60-foot articulated BRT buses of Phase 2.”

Times are tough financially – and politically – here in MA. But matters will only get worse if public transit and other transportation issues are not properly addressed and resolved. People have to be able to get to their jobs and back home.

By the way, Barry Steinberg has published “An Unofficial Condensation of Public Comments Prepared for the Association for Public Transportation, Inc.” providing an alphabetical listing of those who submitted public comments, their sequence on EOT’s CD-ROM, and a digest of portions that includes the CD-ROM page where a comment letter is located (as well as its length in pages), which provides convenience to those interested in reading some of the comment letters. Barry’s work runs some 21 pages. It is possible it may have been posted on the Internet. I’ll check with Barry and provide a link, if it has been posted.