Greetings! Today we've got info on a start to a pretty hefty project for the MBTA - the extension of the Green Line into Somerville and Medford. But, there's a bit of a snag that could hold things back even before the bulldozers arrive on site.
Also, I've come across an interview with Dr. Beverly Scott, the incoming General Manager of the MBTA, who is set to start December 17th. Also-also, I've got your downtown Boston construction for the week.
I did promise you this week that we're going to talk about transit agencies staying open late - that will happen in a few days. You've still got time to submit your thoughts on the subject to me - email me at commuting.boston at gmail dot com or use the form on the side.
Starting line for the extension of the Green Line
There's much anticipation for the coming extension of the Green Line through Somerville into Medford. According to the MBTA, we should start seeing results sometime in 2016, but the entire project isn't slated for full completion until 2018.
Well, every project has to start somewhere, right? I found a tidbit today while browsing the intertubes that piqued my curiosity: Wicked Local Somerville (the blog of the Somerville Journal) reports that a groundbreaking ceremony will take place tomorrow (December 11th) for the Union Square stop. If you're interested in going to check it out, it'll be around 1:30 PM at the Target on Somerville Avenue (in the parking lot, because building through the store is probably not the best of ideas). The governor will be on hand, along with an assortment of other officials related to the project.
Now, you would think this would be good news. Right? Well, there's one catch, as there is often wont to be - the blog reports that the $1.1 billion project doesn't even have full funding yet, or any sort of construction team lined up. Cost estimates show that the land alone for the Union Square stop will require $8 million in funding.
As for when the construction teams should be showing up:
The request asks for interested parties to respond to a request for qualifications in January and a request for proposals in February or March, and says the MBTA plans to award a contract by late spring. Preconstruction would last about 18 months, according to the request.
A report cited by the blog from the MBTA says that, of that $1.1 billion, about $700 million will be used for construction. I'm assuming the rest will be going for salaries... but I'm going to try to get my hands on a copy of that report and see if they have any sort of breakdown listed for what the other $400 million will be used for. The report also says that they intend on receiving those funds from the state and the Federal Transit Administrations' "New Starts" Program.
Do you think the Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford is worthwhile? If you think you'll still live in the area, do you think you'll be using the line when it's finished? Is it worth the cost? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Any last words?
It's almost time for Beverly Scott to start up as General Manager here in Boston -- but, first, she's wrapping things up in Atlanta as her time with the MARTA system comes to a close. Scott sat down for an interview with WSB-TV the other day, in which she says that MARTA is doing much better than it was before she came along.
Over the past couple of months, we've learned that her time at MARTA was not all sunshine and unicorns. As we discussed back in October, a report from the CBS Boston I-Team showed that MARTA had undergone an audit - the results of which showed that the agency needed "fundamental and significant changes" in order to effectively operate.
Scott told WSB that a significant barrage of spending cuts she ordered to drastically reduce MARTA's $120 million deficit led the agency to, in turn, perform that audit - to the tune of $150,000. She says that, despite those questioning her motives, the agency has benefited from those tough calls, as that deficit has now been reduced to (just?) $30 million:
"When you're talking about a $120 million gap, that's not something you can play around. You can't make everybody happy or whatever, you need to take actions that need to take place," Scott said... "I put my big girl pants on. At the end of the day I say 'you be you, I'll be me and I'm going to try to do it the best way I can.""
By the way, those cuts included freezing wages, slashing health care contributions to employee policies, and reducing bus service -- along with a fare hike. I can see how those might not make her the most popular woman on the block.
Scott also had a message for those who think her work was in vain:
However, as far as critics saying MARTA can't support itself, she said, "Quite candidly, I smile when people say privatization because if the private sector could run them and make a profit on them, you would not find them being public, OK!"
Her last day this past Friday was spent at a MARTA station in downtown Atlanta.
You'll find slowdowns here... (Downtown Boston edition)
Mass Pike Westbound
The Arlington Street on-ramp to the Pike westbound will be closed Monday and Tuesday nights from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Harborside Drive to the Ted Williams Tunnel westbound will be closed on Wednesday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
Expressway / O'Neill Tunnel Southbound
The ramps from the Surface Artery southbound at New Chardon Street to 93 South / Callahan Tunnel will be closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramps to Purchase Street/Government Center and the Callahan Tunnel from the O'Neill Tunnel southbound will close Monday through Friday from 11:59 PM to 5:00 AM.
Leverett Circle Connector Tunnels
The westbound Storrow tunnel will close Monday through Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM. Expect lane closures in place starting at 9:00 PM for ongoing work between Leverett Circle and Berkeley Street.
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