Over the last few weeks, officials at MassDOT and other state transportation agencies received hundreds of letters of support of the inclusion of the Green Line Extension to Route 16 and the Somerville Community Path in the state’s Long-Range Transportation Plan (2011-2035).
Last week, the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization retained funding for the Green Line Extension to Route 16 that was in the previous Long Range plan (in the 2016-2020 time frame), but did not add the Somerville Community Path to the list of projects in the draft plan.
Today, state Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Mullan responded in this statement through the Green Line Extension project team:
“Over the last few days, I have received your calls and e-mails advocating for MassDOT to include both the portion of the Green Line Extension to Mystic Valley Parkway and the extension of the Somerville Community Path in the Regional Transportation Plan currently being considered by the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. I have also spoken personally with some of you, but the volume does not permit me time to respond to each e-mail individually. Out of respect for all of you and knowing how strongly you believe in both projects, I offer this response.
“Certainly, both projects merit our attention. They both have advantages and fit squarely with much of the policy we have advocated since MassDOT was created and which we have embodied in our GreenDOT policy and in our overall transportation policy more generally. As I have stated many times publicly and privately, the Green Line Extension is at or near the very top of our priorities. The extension of the Community Path offers multiple benefits, including the obvious advantage offered by economies of scale if it were to be built at the same time as the Green Line Extension. As you all know, we have committed to moving the design of the Community Path forward at this time.
“However, the Regional Transportation Plan is, by federal law, a fiscally-constrained document. The list of worthy projects going out many years in every region of the Commonwealth greatly outstrips our available funding. Despite good progress on transportation reform, which has saved us well over $100 million in our first year alone, we are still unable to commit to fund the construction of many worthy projects. Working with the other members of the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, we have decided to protect existing projects while not adding any additional projects to the Regional Transportation Plan. Thus, the extension of the Green Line from College Avenue to Mystic Valley Parkway remains programmed in the 2016-2020 timeframe, while funding for the extension of the Community Path has not been included.
“We will continue to work with our federal and state elected officials, many of whom are great advocates for transportation, on solutions to this issue, and will continue to advance both projects as we are today. We cannot at this time, however, commit to you that we have the necessary financial resources to build the Community Path and therefore cannot responsibly add it to an already over-burdened Regional Transportation Plan.
“Thank you for your continued advocacy and support of our projects.”