The Massachusetts Department of Transportation says it has heard enough public protest that the proposed College Avenue terminus station on the Green Line extension does not serve the Medford Hillside area.
In response to public comments on its annual Status Report for the State Implementation Plan (SIP) transit projects, MassDOT not only reaffirmed its belief that a College Avenue station suffices, but said it would no longer comment on the issue.
“The SIP requires that the Green Line be extended to Medford Hillside, and MassDOT feels confident not only that College Avenue offers the best balance of benefits and impacts of any potential station location in the immediate area, but also that it fulfills the legal commitment for extending the Green Line to Medford Hillside,” the MassDOT response states. Then it adds: “This issue has been discussed, asked and answered in numerous forums, including previous annual SIP Status Reports. Due to this repetition, MassDOT will no longer respond to this inquiry on Annual SIP Reponses to Comments.”
MassDOT also said in its response that it would not commit to a Mystic Valley Parkway/Route 16 terminus station as an interim offset measure for any project delay. (Because MassDOT is not going to meet its Dec. 31, 2014 legal deadline for completing the Green Line extension, it is required to institute an interim offset project by that date that will provide equal air quality benefits). The report states, “Committing to Route 16 would be against the stated aims of interim offset measures, and would be infeasible to complete in the timeframe necessary by the SIP regulations.”
MassDOT also said that it relegated a potential Mystic Valley Parkway/Route 16 station to a undetermined second phase of the project for more than just lack of funds, which was its stated reason upon announcing the two-phase approach to the project in July 2009. Five months earlier, MassDOT had announced the Mystic Valley Parkway/Route 16 station as its preferred location for the terminus station.
“MassDOT has been consistent in its support of an ultimate terminus from the Green Line Extension at Mystic Valley Parkway/Route 16, but has proposed that this final segment of the project be planned and constructed as a second phase,” the response states. “This is the case for financial reasons – the Commonwealth simply cannot afford it at this point – but also for planning and policy reasons. MassDOT learned a wealth of lessons from the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), and we feel that there is still a meaningful lack of consensus for a station at Mystic Valley Parkway/Route 16. We hope to continue to work and develop such consensus for this potential station area. In the near term, that will involve supporting the process undertaken by Metropolitan Area Planning Council [MAPC] to help detail some of the local issues around the station, and identify some further recommendations.”
The MAPC is undertaking a year-long study of the proposed Route 16 station. The first public meeting related to the study is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at the Brooks School in Medford.