MGNA: Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

Information about our green line extension.



Month: December, 2008

Getting the Most From the Green Line

4 December, 2008 (18:27) | News | By: Editor

On November 24, the city of Somerville conducted a workshop session at Build Boston, the Boston Society of Architects’ annual convention and trade show.

The workshop was titled “Getting the Most From the Green Line,” and it detailed the city’s extensive efforts to try to maximize the benefits to be derived from the extension of MBTA Green Line service to Somerville.

Somerville has been actively studying the possible implications of the Green Line from every conceivable angle, from economic development to preventing displacement to maintaining affordable housing.

Here is the description of the workshop:

“How does a transit investment get leveraged for economic development and job creation? How can we ensure everyone benefits from transit investments? What does equitable transit-oriented development look like, and what are some of the challenges to making it happen? This session explores all of these questions in the context of the Green Line extension through Somerville and incorporates lessons from around the country that can be applied in Massachusetts. Panelists from the City of Somerville, a local CDC, and a national non-profit address the ongoing transportation and land use planning processes, bringing together many diverse stakeholders and engaging participants in discussing lessons for other communities across the region.

Panelists:

+ Monica Lamboy, Executive Director, Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, City of Somerville

+ Meredith Levy, Community Organizing Director, Somerville Community Corporation

+ Sam Zimbabwe, Technical Assistance Director, Reconnecting America, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Zimbabwe was kind enough to share the PowerPoint presentation from the session, which is full of useful information regarding the project and is a model for community outreach. Click here to download the presentation.

State legislators write governor in support of Rt. 16

4 December, 2008 (08:51) | News | By: Editor

The following is a letter to Governor Deval Patrick released to the Somerville Journal.

November 10, 2008
Governor Deval Patrick
State House, Room 360
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Governor Patrick,

As elected representatives of Somerville and Medford we are writing to express our concerns that the Green Line extension may not be extended far enough to serve all of our communities as effectively as possible. We strongly believe that the Green Line should terminate at Route 16. The Green Line extension is one of the most important public transportation investments that we as a state have made or are likely to make in the near future. It is crucial that we get this investment as right as possible.

A Route 16 terminus would serve residents of Somerville, Medford Hillside and Arlington in a way that a terminus at College Ave. would not. Somerville is being asked to accept a new maintenance facility that would service and store trains not only for the extension but for the rest of the line as well. Somerville is already heavily burdened by MBTA support facilities which do not serve the city. Any additional MBTA support facility in Somerville should be as small as possible, should conform to the needs of Somerville’s future economic growth and should deliver mitigation to the residents of Somerville. One aspect of this mitigation should be Green Line service that provides the greatest possible benefit to the city and residents of Somerville. That service should include a stop at Route 16.

We also believe that a Route 16 terminus would allow for tremendous economic development opportunities for Somerville and Medford. Additionally, the Medford Hillside has been promised Green Line service and we do not believe that terminating the line at College Ave. would meet the definition of servicing the Hillside as outlined by the SIP. We also strongly believe that a Route 16 terminus would generate additional ridership beyond current projections and that that demand would continue to grow along with economic development in the area. As you are probably aware, over 2000 residents of Medford and Arlington have signed a petition requesting that the Green Line be extended to Rte. 16.

For the above mentioned reasons as well as many others, we would insist that the Green Line extension continue out to Route 16. We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and your staff to discuss this issue in greater detail at you earliest convenience. Thank you for your consideration in this matter. We look forward to hearing from you with your thoughts on this matter and to schedule a meeting.

Sincerely,

Patricia D. Jehlen, State Senator, 2nd Middlesex
Denise Provost, State Representative, 27th Middlesex
Carl Sciortino, State Representative, 34th Middlesex
Sean Garballey, State Representative, 23rd Middlesex

Green Line advisory group meeting summary - Dec. 1

2 December, 2008 (12:45) | Advisory Committee Notes, News | By: Editor

Here are some notes from the 10th meeting of the Green Line Extension Project Advisory Group, conducted by the Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) on Monday, Dec. 1, at the St. Clement Parish Hall:

Project consultants gave presentations on five areas being studied as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). Note: Each of these presentations can be viewed on the project website, www.greenlineextension.org. Click on Reference Materials, then Current Materials.

TRAFFIC ANALYSIS

Don Cooke and Laura Castelli of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) gave an overview on a traffic analysis, including pedestrian and bicycling conditions, conducted at 45 intersections in the project area. It concluded that the Green Line would reduce vehicle trips and generally improve traffic conditions, with the addition of roadway and signalization improvements; however, it also projected the number of intersections in the project area with a “failing” grade would increase from 19 currently to 26 in 2030, with or without the Green Line. Pedestrian improvements would be seen at 33 intersections. The addition of two turning lanes would be recommended on Boston Avenue, at Winthrop Street and at Mystic Valley Parkway, resulting in a loss of about 10 and 16 parking spaces, respectively, on Boston Avenue. Improvements to accommodate at drop-off/pick-up area at Ball Square would result in a loss of 16 parking spaces on Broadway. If a station were to be located at Mystic Valley Parkway, a redesign of the rotary at Mystic Valley Parkway and Alewife Brook Parkway also would be required to bring it up to current standards. Bus service is not expected to be significantly changed; slight route alterations are anticipated for buses serving Lechmere Station (Routes 69, 80, 87 and 88).AIR QUALITYTom Wholley of VHB reported that the Green Line extension would improve air quality on a local and regional basis by reducing levels of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, ozone, and greenhouse gases. He said it was “extremely rare” for a transportation project to show positive impact in all four of these areas. The analysis also showed the greatest air quality benefits would be derived from the alternative that places the terminus station at Mystic Valley Parkway.NOISE AND VIBRATION

Jason Ross of Harris, Miller, Miller and Hanson described the noise and vibration impacts of the relocation of the commuter rail tracks and the addition of the Green Line, and how these impacts can be reduced through measures such as sound barriers, sound insulation, and track treatments. Without mitigation, the relocation of the commuter rail tracks would increase the noise level by 1 to 3 decibels from the existing conditions for locations within 100 feet. The addition of the Green Line would increase the noise level by 1 to 2 decibels from the existing conditions for locations within 50 feet.

Sound barriers would generally reduce the train noise by 7 to 14 decibels. In many cases, future noise levels would be substantially lower than existing noise levels. For example, on Orchard Street, the current average noise level when trains pass by is 71 decibels. With no mitigation, the Green Line project would increase this figure to 74 decibels. Mitigation, in the form of a 10-foot-high sound barrier, would reduce the noise level to 63 decibels, a decrease of 8 decibels from the present conditions. Ross said this is a significant reduction, as a decrease of 10 decibels is equivalent to cutting the noise level in half. The estimated cost of noise barriers was $3.5 million.

Vibration reduction measures include ballast mats under the tracks (estimated cost $3.5 million) and resilient track fasteners ($5.9 million). These are generally effective in reducing vibration by 10 vibration decibels. Also, the commuter rail and Green Line tracks would be built on a concrete slab, known as a “boat section,” which can also reduce vibration.

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE/DISABILITY ACCESS

Ian Harrington of the Central Transportation Planning Staff explained that the principal of Environmental Justice (EJ) is to ensure that the project benefits and does not burden EJ populations, which generally are characterized by lower income levels and higher minority composition. These populations exist in Medford, Somerville and Cambridge.

This presentation only addressed the benefits, not the burden; benefits were rated in terms of improved access to jobs and services (including retail, health care and education), and mobility, congestion and environmental improvements (including reduction in travel time, vehicle miles traveled, and carbon monoxide emissions). Similarly, the project should benefit and not burden the disability populations, which in Medford, Somerville and Cambridge exceed the Eastern Massachusetts average of 17.6 percent of persons over age 5.

The analysis showed that in all cases measured, the addition of Green Line service provided benefits for both the EJ populations and for people with disabilities. Further, in all cases the disability population benefits were greater than those projected to be provided for the non-disability populations; the same was true in most cases for the EJ populations versus the non-EJ populations.

CONSTRUCTION STAGING

Mark Louro of VHB describe the preliminary plan for roadway and railway work, noting that plans will be formalized in the next phase of the project, the detailed engineering. Roadway work would generally be done during the day with road and lane closures scheduled at off-peak hours. The current estimate shows that 10 road bridges and 3 rail bridges would require reconstruction; 4 new rail structures also would be built.

For the railway work, current rail traffic (commuter, freight) would be maintained. A typical construction sequence would be to excavate the right-of-way where needed and build retaining walls; perform drainage and utility work and pour footings; construct a new outbound track for the commuter rail on the north side of the corridor; shift the current outbound commuter rail track so it becomes the new inbound track; remove the current inbound track; install the two Green Line tracks south of the commuter rail tracks, and construct station platforms, catenary lines, etc.

NEXT STEPS

The next meeting of the Project Advisory Group will take place on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009, again at St. Clement Parish Hall, 579 Boston Ave., Medford. The time will be determined; given the anticipated large agenda, including a presentation on the terminus station location analysis, the meeting might be scheduled for 3 hours in length, instead of the usual 2 hours.

This meeting will be followed by two public meetings later in January. There will also be a public hearing once the DEIR is filed. The DEIR, which was required to be filed on Dec. 1, 2008, is expected to be filed near the end of January 2009, according to Assistant Project Manager Kate Fichter of EOT.

- Ken Krause, Project Advisory Group member