Transportation News

Buses, Transportation News
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Urban Ring map

What’s the latest thinking on the Urban Ring and where it will go? There’s a newly released Locally Preferred Alternative Alignment on the official project site. It’s basically Bus Rapid Transit, and in Somerville it would serve Inner Belt, parts of East Somerville, and Assembly Square. View the map (PDF).

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Transportation News
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Study on importance of land use and public transit

One study, coordinated by Smart Growth America and published by the Urban Land Institute, found that “Typically, Americans living in compact urban neighborhoods where cars are not the only transportation option drive a third fewer miles than those in automobile-oriented suburbs.” A separate study from the American Public Transit Association showed related findings. Read more about both.

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Boston Globe: Economic benefits of rail service

“New rail service to Hub called economic boon”

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AIA study on well-designed transportation projects

The American Institute of Architects has released research on key design strategies that can be crucial in determining whether a transportation project will benefit its community.

  • Employing an integrated design process through which planners, designers, transportation officials, and builders develop a unified plan
  • Including all community stakeholders from the outset
  • Using three- and four-dimensional images and graphics to increase citizen involvement, understanding, and buy-in
  • Creating human-scaled structures and spaces that make busy transportation hubs more manageable
  • Using easily legible signs and directions that make complicated multimodal systems easier and safer to navigate
  • Designing projects to be both durable and adaptable to new transportation modes and community needs

Read the report

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Transportation News
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Boston Metro: Transportation bond bill debated

“Road budget questioned”
“Though there was a suggestion the state consider a moratorium on new transit expansion projects such as the Green Line extension to Somerville, Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen said the Green Line extension is mandated by law because it was promised to alleviate the environmental concerns of the Big Dig.”
Also, keep reading for coverage from the State House News Service.

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Rep. Sciortino on STIP disapproval and transportation bond bill

State Representative Carl Sciortino wrote a letter to Speaker DiMasi urging quick passage of Gov. Patrick’s transportation bond bill, so that projects such as the Green Line extensions can move ahead. Many thanks for his specific efforts as well as the ongoing efforts of our other Representatives and Senators on Beacon Hill!
Download the letter (PDF)

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Transportation News
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Federal government slaps State on transit funding

The Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration did not approve the 2008-11 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP – also known as SIP), a compilation of all of the projects expected to receive federal funding over the next four years. This means the State won’t get federal funding for these projects until it can prove it has a way of matching federal funds. However, if Gov. Patrick’s $2.9 billion transportation bond bill is passed, then this problem goes away.
SouthCoastToday.com: “Road projects delayed until state finds funding”
Download federal disapproval letter (PDF)

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Transportation Finance Commission recommendations

The Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission released its long-overdue and important recommendations for fixing the state transportation financial mess – i.e., how to fund the $20 billion or so shortfall identified in its prior report. It recommends a total of $21.18 billion in savings and/or new funds:
– Gas tax increase of 11.5 cents per gallon ($10.5 billion)
– Road user fees (electronic tolling of major highways) ($5.5 billion)
– Regular MBTA fare increases with inflation ($1.9 billion)
– Everything else ($3.28 billion)
The report also recommends that the state relieve the MBTA of all debt payments for the SIP commitments.
Download the report (PDF)

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Transportation News
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Gov. Patrick unveils $12b building plan with limited money for mass transit

The five-year plan covers new college classrooms, laboratories, roads, bridges, and other construction projects. A ton of money goes to roads and bridges. Just $20 million is reserved for mass transit projects, among them the Green Line extensions.
Download the Capital Budget Plan (PDF)
Boston Globe: “$12b aimed at education, transportation”

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Transportation News
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Somerville elected to Boston MPO

At the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s Annual Meeting this morning, the City of Somerville was elected to membership in the Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization. This means that Somerville will have one of the formal votes on how federal transportation funds are expended in the region. This is likely to be good news for the Green Line and the Orange Line station at Assembly Square. Until now, Somerville was essentially lobbying the MPO for money. Now the City has a seat at the table.

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