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Boston Globe: Residents push for T expansion

The article “T proponents say expansion is a matter of life or death” reports that groups such as STEP are turning to health issues to push for the Green Line extension and other projects. Cars, buses, and diesel trains cause air pollution that directly impacts our health. But the MBTA says it can’t afford any expansions.


Quotes from the article….

More people using electric trolleys means fewer people driving cars on Interstate 93 or taking diesel buses or commuter trains, said Wig Zamore, a member of Somerville Transit Equity Partnership, who assembled the data from the state Department of Public Health and passed it out at a recent meeting with state and MBTA officials.
”This is unquestioned in the scientific community today: There’s a linear relationship between air pollution and mortality,” said Zamore, who said neighboring communities such as Chelsea, Malden, and Revere can make a similar argument. ”If you’re putting people in the greatest concentrations of population without putting in the transportation to clean up the air, you are basically signing a death warrant.”
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Tonight in Malden, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority goes on the road for the first of eight public hearings on a five-year construction plan that includes hardly any major system expansion. Beyond completing the Silver Line and restoring the Greenbush commuter rail, the T can’t afford to add to the system, said General Manager Michael Mulhern. He said he wants to avoid being overextended like other large transit systems, resulting in fare hikes and service cuts.
The Romney administration has also balked at providing funding for any major expansion of the T, despite a 1990 agreement linking system expansion to the construction of the Big Dig. State officials have scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 14 at the State House to discuss substitutions for the projects listed in that pact, which include the Green Line extension, trolley service for Jamaica Plain, and a Red-Blue line connector in Boston, among others.
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The state is required to meet clean air goals under federal law, Zamore pointed out, and if the state fails to build transit projects that help meet those goals, the federal government could cut off all transportation funding. That is a scenario faced in recent years in Atlanta, Baltimore, and San Francisco.
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