I appreciate the Medford Transcript devoting space for commentary on the Green Line extension being planned to Medford, and I hope it continues to do so. It is important that all stakeholders in the community participate fully in this project in order for Medford to derive the greatest benefit when the project is completed in 2014.
It is equally as important that evaluation of the project be made based on factual information. While John Rendell’s recent four-part series identified many valid and important issues regarding the potential impact the project will have on our community — such as air quality, noise, traffic congestion and the environment — it also contained a large amount of misinformation.
Indeed, many of the project particulars Mr. Rendell stated to be fact have not yet been determined; they will be addressed over the next two years when the Executive Office of Transportation conducts its Environmental Impact Report study, which is expected to begin in July.
Among the many important issues the study will address are:
· Noise, vibration, air quality and stormwater impacts and proposed mitigation measures.
· Land requirements, including any temporary and permanent land takings that might be needed, designs for track locations, relocations and bridge replacements.
The study also is required to:
· Propose specific station locations and describe how they support ridership goals and other project objectives.
· Develop the scope for a traffic study to address traffic circulation on all roadways adjacent to proposed locations, including mitigation.
· Evaluate ridership and associated reduction in vehicle miles of travel for all terminus alternatives explored in the study.
This study will yield a much clearer picture of the specific requirements of the project, and how it can be built to best serve the community and also address its concerns. There will be numerous public meetings during the course of the study, including those of the project Citizens Advisory Committee, which is required to be formed.
I urge all Medford citizens to participate as fully as possible.
There were some particularly glaring inaccuracies in Mr. Rendell’s columns that I wish to correct, including information misattributed to the Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance, of which I am a participant:
Noise and air pollution
Mr. Rendell stated that the project would “create noise and air pollution.” In fact, the Green Line cars are zero-emission electric vehicles; they emit no pollution.
Mr. Rendell also stated that subway trains produce 90 decibels of noise. Unlike the heavy rail subway trains used on the Red, Blue and Orange Lines, the Green Line cars are light rail vehicles (LRVs). These are not only quieter than the heavy rail cars, but actually operate at approximately 10 decibels below the noise level of diesel or CNG buses, which emit 81 to 82 decibels. (Source: MBTA/TAMS analysis).
Mr. Rendell also stated, without attribution, that “the existing commuter rail train is 130 decibels.” According the MBTA fact sheet on the Greenbush commuter rail project, “A typical MBTA commuter rail locomotive passby at a distance of 50 feet and traveling at a speed of 50 mph generates a maximum noise level of 88 decibels.”
This is not meant to minimize the very real concern about and danger of noise pollution, but to present a factual baseline to use to evaluate the project and demonstrate the need to mitigate noise and pollution impacts.
Mr. Rendell states that the MGNA told him the project would “take 10,000 cars off the road in Medford.” In fact, the MBTA Beyond Lechmere Northwest Corridor Study made the following projections based on its analysis of an enhanced Green Line extension with a terminus in West Medford and a branch to Union Square in Somerville:
+ 9,660 auto person-trips shifted to transit daily
+ 52,800-mile reduction in daily vehicle miles of travel
These figures will be re-evaluated during the Environmental Impact Report study, based on other terminus locations.
Commuter rail relocation
Mr. Rendell said the tracks would be moved 60 feet closer to abutters’ homes. The actual distances of any track relocation still are to be determined. However, at the October public meeting, EOT officials said that where needed, they anticipated the tracks would have to be moved approximately 12 to 15 feet.
The official also stated that where needed, it was likely that most of the additional land needed would be obtained from the rear of properties on the Boston Avenue side of the corridor, which is mostly non-residential.
Again, my point is not to minimize the potential impact of any track relocation, but to provide the facts as they have been presented to date by project officials.
More commuter rail stops
Mr. Rendell states that MGNA proposes a “combined commuter rail/Green Line station” at Winthrop Street and across from the Tufts parking garage on Boston Avenue. In fact, the MGNA station study recommended NO station whatsoever at Winthrop Street, and consideration of a Green Line-only station in the area between Winthrop and College Avenue.
Mr. Rendell speculates that electricity costs to operate the Green Line trains would be passed on to Medford taxpayers. When asked about this issue, Joe Cosgrove, director of development for the MBTA and head of the Beyond Lechmere study, stated, “I would not anticipate the city having to bear power cost.”
I do not look at the Green Line project through rose-colored glasses. I think it’s a worthwhile project that, if constructed properly and with input from all stakeholders, will benefit the community. As stated, there are serious issues to address. But we will go a lot farther toward successfully resolving them if we focus on the facts of the matter, rather than using misinformation to create fear, uncertainty and doubt.
— Ken Krause is a Medford resident and part of the Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance.