The MBTA plans to open the rebuilt Yawkey commuter rail station in Boston next month, clearing the way for the transit agency to boost service across the entire Framingham-Worcester line, officials announced Wednesday.
The station is set to open and a new schedule for the commuter rail line is set be implemented on March 10, T general manager Beverly Scott announced.
“I would like to thank everyone for their patience,” she said in a statement. “We’re very excited about launching this new era in the continuing process of improving the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line.”
Completion of the $14.9-million Yawkey Station overhaul was delayed by about two months while the contractor worked to address accessibility-related issues, T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.
That delay forced the T to hold back on implementing increased service across the Framingham-Worcester line. The Yawkey project includes constructing a second track allowing more trains to move through.
The new schedule will bring the total number of weekday round trips on the Framingham-Worcester line to 24, up from 22 roundtrips currently. The revised schedule also allows trains to stop at more stations while making those trips.
The line only offered 10 weekday roundtrips just before the state struck a deal in 2009 to buy a 21-mile stretch of the line’s tracks for $50 million from railroad company CSX Corp.
Since then, the T has incrementally increased train trips and stops, while improving other aspects of passenger service on the line that was once among the least reliable in the agency’s commuter rail network.
The rebuilt Yawkey Station, located steps from Fenway Park, features a pair of 700-foot-long train platforms that are fully accessible to people with disabilities, four new elevators and stairs, track realignments, an open mezzanine and a new main station lobby, or head house, at Yawkey Way.
Those future improvements include building new entrance shelters on Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street and extending Yawkey Way so MASCO shuttle buses, which serve the Longwood Medical Area, can pull up to the station.
When a parking garage for the Fenway Center development is built, solar panels installed atop the garage will power Yawkey Station, which will make it the first “net-zero energy” rail station in Massachusetts, officials have said.
During the recent construction project, the station remained in use. Riders would use one side of the platform while work would take place on the opposite side, officials said.
State officials held a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the project in the fall of 2010, but the actual work did not start until June 2012, about when officials had originally hoped to finish construction.
The project’s start was delayed because the state needed to wait until the track purchase deal with CSX was complete.
The project was paid for by the state, including through the use of federal stimulus funding, officials.
The developer of Fenway Center, Meredith Management Corp., has agreed to maintain the station’s entrances and elevators after the project is complete.
Nearly a dozen communities across the state within the past year have raised the age for tobacco sales higher than 18 years old, evidence of a slow-spreading movement that activists say will reduce cigarette use among teens.
Most states, including Massachusetts, allow 18-year-olds to buy tobacco products. Alaska, Alabama, Utah and New Jersey are the exceptions, all of which have pushed the legal age to 19.
Until last year, Needham was the only community in the United States that prohibited sales to anyone under 21 years old – a change the town made in 2005, according to D.J. Wilson, the tobacco control director at the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
Since then, a handful of other Bay State communities have followed behind. Brookline, Belmont, Sharon, Watertown, Westwood, Walpole and Sudbury have all outlawed the sale of tobacco to anyone under 21 within the past year, according to Wilson.
Canton, Ashland, Dedham and Arlington also changed their bylaws to prohibit sales of tobacco to anyone under 19, with Arlington planning to push its age restriction up to 21 years old over a three-year phase-in plan.
“In those towns we hope to see it is actually harder for kids to get their hands on tobacco products,” Wilson said, adding it is too soon to gather any data on smoking rates in those towns.
Other cities and towns across Massachusetts and the country are also looking to ban tobacco sales to young adults. This past spring, New York City became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone under 21. In Massachusetts, the board of health in Newburyport is currently debating a measure that would outlaw sales to anyone under 21. The move faces resistance from the city mayor and some retailers.
“It is interesting in that it kind of cascaded pretty quickly,” Wilson said about the age restriction for tobacco sales.
Critics argue local officials are overstepping their authority, and anyone over 18 is an adult capable of making their own decisions about whether to smoke.
Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, called the moves “an overreach” by local governments. Anti-tobacco activists are attempting to take the path of least resistance by pushing age restrictions at the local level rather than face a more difficult battle to do it statewide, Hurst said.
“They try to pick off cities and towns here and there,” he said. “Local officials have to know that they are putting their own consumers and employers at a disadvantage.”
Activists credit Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Dr. Lester Hartman, a pediatrician in Westwood, with spearheading the change one community at a time.
Winickoff said a slow, steady approach will have a major public health impact statewide.
“I think community by community is what we are going to do for a while, and that’s the way to have this move forward,” Winickoff told the News Service.
Winickoff said he thinks part of the reason the change is spreading is because local town officials have seen the data from Needham. In the eight years since the age-restriction went into effect, the smoking rate for Needham high school students dropped precipitously, according to Winickoff.
The smoking rate for adults who live in Needham is 8 percent compared to 18.1 percent statewide, according to data collected by the Tobacco Control Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Deaths from lung cancer among men from Needham is 24 percent lower than the state average, while women from Needham die from lung cancer at a rate 33 percent lower than the statewide average for women, according to DPH data.
Approximately 90 percent of all smokers begin the habit before they are 21, according to Winickoff and other anti-tobacco activists.
Tami Gouveia, executive director of Tobacco Free Massachusetts, said she is not sure if age-restrictions will continue to catch on in other cities and towns as a way of reducing young people’s access to tobacco. “It is really at the beginning stages of folks starting to take a hard look at this,” she said.
Gouveia compared it to when the legal drinking age was raised from 18 to 21.
Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday said she thinks increasing the legal age to buy tobacco is unnecessary and an inappropriate issue for the board of health to focus on.
“The legal age is 18. It is the age when you are an adult. You can fight in our wars. You have the right to vote. You can marry. And now we are going to tell you, ‘You can’t buy a pack of cigarettes if you want one,’” Holaday said.
Holaday said she will not dedicate any police resources to enforcing an age restriction on tobacco sales in Newburyport, leaving the question of how effective it might be in that city.
Increasing the legal age for cigarette sales will only hurt local retailers and send consumers to convenience stores in neighboring communities, Holaday said.
Hurst, from the Retailers Association, agreed. If cigarette sales are banned to anyone under 21 in one town, but legal in the next town, residents will buy them in the neighboring community, Hurst said. Secondly, he said, different rules on consumer products in the 351 cities and towns around the state will cause problems.
“I think our local officials have to be willing to stand up to these advocates who are pushing these agendas and tell them, ‘Go hop in your car and go to Boston to push a statewide agenda.’ It has no business being considered at the local level,” Hurst said.
The MBTA said it will continue its annual tradition of offering free rides after 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, while boosting service on its subway and commuter rail lines to accommodate people traveling to celebrate First Night.
On New Year’s Eve, the T's Green, Red, Orange, and Blue lines will operate on modified weekday schedules with extra trains running at “rush-hour levels of service” from about 3 p.m. until 2 a.m., officials announced.
The T’s commuter rail lines will also run on modified weekday schedules with additional service, including a number of lines that will see extra outbound service and some delayed outbound departures between midnight and 2 a.m., officials said.
To see a detailed list of extra commuter rail service and delayed departure times, click here.
Meanwhile, the T’s Silver Line, buses, trackless trolleys, express bus routes and boats will run on regular weekday schedules on New Year’s Eve, officials said.
The T’s paratransit service, the RIDE, will run on a regular weekday schedule with extended hours until 2:30 a.m.
On New Year’s Day, the four subway lines will run on Sunday schedules as will the Silver Line, the RIDE, the commuter rail and buses, meaning some commuter rail and bus lines will not operate, officials said.
For a detailed list of subway and bus routes that will not run on New Year’s Day, click here.
The T will not run boat service on New Year’s Day.
City officials have encouraged people traveling in and around Boston on New Year's Eve to ride public transit, including the T. A number of streets will be closed to traffic, while parking will be banned on others. For a detailed list, click here.
An Ashland police officer has been indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury in connection with the destruction of evidence and subsequent conduct, Middlesex district attorney's office said Friday.
Edward Pomponio, 50, was indicted on charges of wanton destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice. An arraignment date has not yet been set.
“With these charges, we allege that this defendant, a police officer, discarded key drug evidence in a pending criminal case and then tried to intimidate another officer from reporting it,” District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement. “These are troubling allegations that reflect a violation of the public trust placed in all law enforcement officials.”
Pomponio, who served as the police department’s evidence officer in July 2011, is alleged to have thrown out critical evidence in an open and active criminal case involving drug charges.
Without this evidence, the case could not proceed and had to be dismissed. Following that, he is alleged to have tried to intimidate the officer who had the case from reporting the evidence tampering to officials who would investigate, the DA's office said.
The police department would not immediately comment.
THE GREEN and yellow Brazilian flag adorns many downtown shops in Framingham, reflecting the pride of the town’s dominant immigrant group. But as much as the waves of Brazilian immigrants have transformed Framingham over the past 30 years, the town has been a melting pot for generations — only slightly more than half of its immigrants are from Brazil. One in four Framinghamites is foreign born.
All the same, immigration continues to cause political friction even in a town seemingly accustomed to newcomers of all nationalities. For here a microcosm of the national immigration debate played out very intensely on the local level: Town Meeting members faced a vote to require the town-funded English as a Second Language program to check the immigration status of its students to qualify for two classes funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Globe subscribers can read the entire column here.
The following is a press release from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office
WOBURN – The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office have conducted an investigation into the facts and circumstances of an on-duty officer-involved shooting with a department issued firearm that occurred on July 2, 2013 at 13 Metropolitan Avenue in Ashland and resulted in the death of Andrew Stigliano, 27, of Ashland.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, by statute, has the duty and authority to oversee all death investigations in Middlesex County. As such, the goal of this investigation was to determine if the fatal shooting of Mr. Stigliano by on-duty police officers was legally justified.
The investigation into the officer-involved shooting included interviews of all the responding Ashland Police Officers and civilian witnesses; ballistics examination of evidence found at the scene; review of radio transmissions, police reports, and cell phone records; examinations of several cell phones; and review of medical examiner reports and statements.
That investigation revealed the following facts:
On July 2, 2013 at approximately 10:50 a.m., an Ashland Police Officer was on patrol in a marked police cruiser on Route 135 West when he observed a vehicle pull into traffic. The officer was forced to stop to avoid a collision with the vehicle. The officer recognized the driver as Andrew Stigliano and recalled that he had recently seen Stigliano’s name on the department’s list of individuals with active arrest warrants. The officer radioed to the station to confirm that the arrest warrants were still active and while doing so, he turned his vehicle around and followed Stigliano onto Metropolitan Avenue. The police dispatcher confirmed there were two active arrest warrants for Stigliano and his address on the warrants was 13 Metropolitan Avenue. The officer observed that Stigliano had just pulled into the driveway of that address.
The officer radioed for additional units to respond as backup. A female passenger in Stigliano’s car exited the vehicle and ran toward the backyard. Stigliano entered the home.
With less than a week to go before a special election, Congressional candidates Sen. Katherine Clark (D-Melrose) and Republican Frank Addivinola are set for their first televised debate.
New England Cable News announced Thursday morning that Clark and Addivinola will debate at 3 p.m. Friday and the cable channel will air the debate at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Rebroadcasts are planned for Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.
The special election to fill the seat formerly held by Sen. Edward Markey is Tuesday.
Independent James Aulenti of Wellesley and Justice Peace Security candidate James Hall of Arlington are also on the ballot.
- M. Norton/SHNS
Katherine Clark, the 50-year-old Democratic nominee for the Fifth Congressional District, is heavily favored in the Dec. 10 special election to succeed Edward J. Markey in the US House of Representatives.
Yet Clark, a state senator from Melrose, still faces one last test.
Her Republican opponent, Frank J. Addivinola Jr., a businessman and lawyer with six graduate degrees and conservative views on the Affordable Care Act, guns, gay marriage, and abortion, says he is going to win.
Katherine Marlea Clark
Born: 1963 New Haven, CT
Undergraduate education: St. Lawrence University
Profession: State senator
Self-described political views: Progressive Democrat
Personal life: Married with three school-age boys
Current residence: Melrose
Grocery store of choice: Market Basket
International adventure: Studied abroad in Nagoya, Japan, in 1983
Frank John Addivinola Jr.
Born: 1960 Malden, MA
Undergraduate education: Williams College
Profession: Doctoral student, teacher, lawyer, owner test prep business
Self-described political view: Smaller government, traditional Republican
Personal life: Married
Current residence: Boston
Grocery store of choice: Market Basket
International adventure: From 2002-2006, lived in Odessa, Ukraine, and ran a tourist-focused business there
In honor of the newfound national "#GivingTuesday" movement, a foundation affiliated with Massachusetts Bay Community College will donate $1 to a scholarship fund.for every "like" the college's Facebook page gets through Tuesday
#GivingTuesday was started recently -- following Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- to kick off charitable giving during the holiday season.
Officials said the MassBay Foundation will donate up to $300 at $1 per Facebook "like" starting Nov. 27 through Dec. 3. They said that anyone who "likes" the page should then copy the follow message onto their Facebook timeline for the donation: "I participated in #GivingTuesday to support MassBay Community College students!"
“The holiday season is a time for reflecting on one’s good fortune and for giving back,” said MassBay President John O’Donnell in a statement. “Thanks to the generosity of the men and women on the MassBay Foundation Board, this initiative raises money for student scholarships while also linking more people to MassBay via our Facebook page. I encourage everyone to take a minute, Like MassBay on Facebook, and feel good knowing you’ve just helped provide needed funding for a hard-working, well-deserving student of our college.”
To learn more about this initiative and how to get involved, please visit the college's website.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at email@example.com
BOSTON (AP) — The new year is a few weeks away but it’s not too early to think about 2014 hunting licenses.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife says 2014 hunting, sporting, fishing, and trapping licenses will be available for purchase starting on Monday.
They can be purchased at all license vendor locations, MassWildlife District offices, the West Boylston Field Headquarters, and at MassFishHunt.org.
Anyone 15 or older needs a license to hunt or for freshwater fishing.
Freshwater fishing licenses for minors ages 15 to 17 are free and can be obtained online.
The department also reminds hunters that all deer harvested during shotgun season must be checked at a check station. Online checking is not available from Dec. 2 until Dec. 14.