Thursday, October 08, 2009


1. Archie’s Report.
2. Bob’s response.

1. Archie’s Report.

Archie Mazmanian Reports:

Recent reports on the demise of Phase 2 of the Urban Ring may be premature. No federal funding is currently available. A report in the Brookline TAB (October 1, 2009) states that Phase 2 has been moved to an “illustrative list” described by a budget analyst for the MBTA Advisory Board as follows:

“Illustrative projects are, by definition, projects that we do if we had the money, but we don’t have the money.”

The TAB report continues: “Even as a project on the illustrative list, the Urban Ring won’t receive funds for the next 20 years unless the list is amended down the road,” according to this analyst.

Surely newer technology will come along to replace Phase 2’s 60-foot articulated buses that were to be operated in much mixed traffic over narrow streets that are currently heavily traveled. If Phase 2 somehow survives after a couple of decades of being in financial and political gridlock, surely it will not be recognizable as we have known it.

But the demise of Phase 2, real or imagined, should not deter Phase 3 with its light/heavy rail on dedicated tracks. Public transit needs improvement in Greater Boston to survive. Phase 3 is one answer. LONG LIVE PHASE 3!

However, the demise of Phase 2 is not a reprieve of the current death sentence for the Charles River White Geese. Phase 2’s impact, if it had survived, would have been felt years down the road. The chief governmental villain in the ongoing annihilation of the White Geese is the DCR with its BU Bridge repairs/renovations project that have been underway for some months. The City of Cambridge has apparently been cooperating with DCR in the squeeze of the White Geese in their habitat.

Come November 1st, the humongous state transportation reorganization will commence implementation. It is touted as long needed reform. The DCR becomes a part of the Highway Division and no longer a separate agency. This should result in better coordination of our highways and bridges, without dealing with agency fiefdoms that may serve at cross-purposes.

The new Department of Transportation (DOT) is to be headed by a five member professional board to be appointed by the Governor. These members are to serve without compensation. Two members are to be experts in the field of transportation finance, two transportation planners and one a registered civil engineer. The Chair of this board cannot be an employee of DOT, suggesting that the others can be so employed. At a conference I recently attended, I was told that none of the members will be DOT employees. I am not aware that Governor Patrick has made any of these appointments as yet. It is not clear exactly what will be the role of the board in dealing with the Secretary of Transportation to be appointed by the Governor who will serve as the CEO of DOT.

With this reorganization in place, no longer will DCR rule the roost of the White Geese. Friends of the Charles River White Geese should promptly get the attention of the new board and CEO of DOT to prevent the current annihilation of the White Geese. And pressure on Governor Patrick should continue. Maybe an invitation should be extended to Governor Patrick (as well as to the new board and CEO) to visit the site of the annihilation. If it’s too cold, perhaps we could accommodate them with goose-down coats. With the reorganization in place, there will be no excuse for Governor Patrick to continue to ignore the annihilation of the White Geese. The buck stops with him.

Archie Mazmanian

2. Bob’s response.

There is one aspect to Archie’s report that confuses me.

It is my recollection that there are two possible Urban Ring Charles River heavy / light rail crossings on the Table.

One, the heavy rail, would cross the Charles River near the Mass. Ave. Bridge and make Green Line connections and Commuter Rail connections at Kenmore. The station would be under Brookline Avenue over the Mass. Pike. It would have tunnel connections to the south to Kenmore / Green Line and, to the west, to Yawkey Station on the Commuter Rail. It would also be very convenient for Fenway Park.

The other, the light rail / streetcar, would cross in the goose habitat and make Green Line connections at two new stations.

One would be located at St. Mary’s and Mountfort adjacent to the commuter rail. This is a block from Marsh Chapel, the heart of the BU campus. This station would connect to the Commonwealth Avenue line by a tunnel under St. Mary’s. to the south side of Commonwealth Avenue. People would then cross traffic and weather to get to the existing BU Central stop on the Commonwealth Avenue (B) line.

The other station would be located under Park Drive between Beacon Street (C line) and the existing Fenway Park station on the Riverside (D) line. A new Green Line station would be constructed under Beacon Street at Audubon Circle. Tunnel connections would go in both directions.

The original plans called for moving Yawkey Station next to the Mountfort Station.