Hope you had a wonderful weekend, and are set to enjoy the upcoming week of glorious weather -- I know I am. Maybe a good time to get out there and explore to a place you haven't seen before? It doesn't have to be an intense undertaking, like that couple who recently announced they'd visited every town and city in Massachusetts. (Although, I will say, that sounds pretty fun.)
Anyway, I've received several detailed and quality questions from some of you, and I'm thankful for them! I am working hard to get answers -- I hope to get a couple published later this week. Keep them coming!
Today I've got your usual downtown construction list, and a couple MBTA-centric stories, including an investigation by WBZ that could raise some eyebrows about the incoming manager of the MBTA. Check it out below the cut.
An interesting audit
So, we've all heard quite a bit about Dr. Beverly Scott lately -- and most of it's been good. She's coming into the new General Manager position at the fiscally-fatigued MBTA starting on December 15, and was voted into that role unanimously. Many across the board here in Massachusetts are lauding the 61 year old widowed grandmother, with some like Paul Regan, the head of the MBTA Advisory Board, calling her "one of the stars" of public transit nationwide.
However, a new report from CBS Boston's I-Team may poke some holes in that reputation. BZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve reports a new audit shows that MARTA, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, needs "fundamental and significant" changes to get it back on track as Dr. Scott prepares to exit.
The audit was reportedly conducted by KPMG, and found these flaws with MARTA:
- Current economic model unsustainable
- Will exhaust reserves by 2018
- High rates of employee absenteeism
- Annual retirement costs higher than national average
With the MBTA already in very shaky shape fiscally and struggling to overcome a huge deficit, along with aging equipment and trains, it would be nice to know what exactly is behind all of these findings in that audit -- and what Dr. Scott will do differently here. Obviously, there are many components in a transit authority, so while she was the one in charge at the time, it's hard to tell without more information who the fingers should be pointed at. So I'm not going to point any, yet.
A response from MARTA on the audit was positive in nature, mentioning that:
We are also proud of all the hard work and the exemplary leadership of Dr. Beverly A. Scott and her incredibly talented and dedicated staff. As she moves on to her next assignment in Boston, we will look to her for guidance.
According to Shortsleeve's report, local officials are keeping mum on the whole thing. They tried to catch up with Governor Patrick while he was on his way to an event, only to get a canned answer that had nothing to do with the actual audit at hand. They also reportedly tried to speak with Transportation Secretary Richard Davey, as well as the Transportation Committee -- all to no avail.
Check out the full report, with video, here. What are your thoughts? Should we be worried? Do you think it's all overblown? Should we wait for more information before making a judgment? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
A healthy turn gone awry
So what do exercise, the T, and explosives have in common? Often, not much (thankfully). However, a bit of a situation unfolded earlier today in Braintree that combined all three in a rather unsatisfactory manner.
A somewhat unsavory looking car caught the attention of MBTA Transit Police, who then shut down the parking garage at the Braintree Red Line stop while officials investigated, according to Joshua Robin, who is a spokesperson for the T. Not only were police there, but the bomb squad also dropped by to check out the scene. The busway was also reportedly affected, but there were no significant delays in service.
Turns out a very large and somewhat scary looking object sticking out of the car was simply a piece of exercise equipment. Woops. Better safe than sorry, though, obviously. It was a pain for commuters, though, as Jessica Bartlett of boston.com reports the closure kept those coming and going from their cars for just about an hour.
Moral of the story? Don't... um ... don't move heavy exercise equipment and leave it sticking suspiciously out of your car, because then it just looks like a bomb. (I guess.) Anyway, check out pictures from the scene here.
You'll find slowdowns here... (Downtown Boston edition)
Mass Pike Westbound
The Arlington Street on-ramp to the Pike westbound will close Monday and Tuesday from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Purchase Street to the Pike westbound will close Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Mass Pike Eastbound
++ COMPLETE CLOSURE ++ of the Pike eastbound at Exit 22 (Prudential Center / Copley Square) on Monday and Tuesday from 11 PM to 5 AM. Traffic will detour at that exit.
The ramp from the South Boston bypass road to the Pike eastbound will close Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Expressway / O'Neill Tunnel Northbound
The ramps from Essex Street and Atlantic Avenue to 93 northbound will close Monday and Thursday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
There will be a triple left lane closure in the Dewey Square Tunnel section to the Zakim Bridge on Monday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramps from Exit 26 (North Station / Storrow Drive) and the Sumner Tunnel to Storrow Drive will close Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
Expressway / O'Neill Tunnel Southbound
The ramp from Leverett Circle to 93 southbound will close Monday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Essex Street to 93 southbound will close Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The Dewey Square tunnel section of the O'Neill Tunnel will close Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramps from the Surface Artery at New Chardon Street to 93 southbound and the Callahan Tunnel will close Tuesday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The on-ramp from Exit 30 (Route 38, Somerville) to 93 southbound will close on Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Storrow Drive / Leverett Circle
The Leverett Circle tunnel westbound will close Monday through Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
Storrow Drive westbound will close between the Hatch Shell and Massachusetts Avenue each weeknight from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM until December. Use Memorial Drive as an alternate or follow detours.
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