June 22, 2005

Boston MPO public hearing on transit commitments

Your voice is still needed for the Green Line!
Wednesday, June 22, 6:00 pm
State Transportation Building
Conference Room 1, 2nd floor
10 Park Plaza, Boston (Map)

This meeting is crucial for the Somerville Green Line extensions because Federal regulations direct responsibility to the Boston MPO to submit all regionally significant transportation projects within plans that certify air quality conformance.

Massachusetts’ state agencies have recommended a momentous $559 million investment in Green Line extensions through Somerville to Medford and Union Square.

Secretary Doug Foy of the Office of Commonwealth Development mentioned at the announcement, this will take Somerville from being one of the worst served cities in Massachusetts to possibly the best served by transit. There will be a large handful of new stations, for about the cost of the single North Station Green and Orange Line rehabilitation, or the cost of a single commuter rail extension. This is probably the single most significant investment ever made in Somerville's health, quality of life and economic vitality We have now completed the riskiest stage of the process - getting the state's executive agency commitments – but we have some crucial remaining work.

We have arrived at this point as a result of four factors:

1. The sheer quantity of our participation – we have been a Somerville Stampede.
2. The unanimity of our message –from elected officials, interest groups and citizens.
3. Transportation air quality and public health impacts that governments must now face head-on.
4. Our willingness to seriously promote new transit oriented development in Somerville.

Four important steps remaining before the Green Line extensions will really be on track:

1. The Boston MPO is required to certify regional transportation plans and air quality conformance.
2. Mass EOT must formally recommend, and Mass DEP and the Federal EPA must approve a new Ozone SIP.
3. Project funding must be made available by the Massachusetts Legislature through bond bills.
4. We must move ahead quickly with high quality land use and station planning in Somerville.

The most important part of the first of these steps happens next week at the Boston MPO Public Input Meeting.

Somerville advocates must attend this meeting and remain on message.
By now you all understand the main points:
- transportation benefits and burdens
- our deserving population
- air quality
- public health,
- the need for better service
- opportunities for both economic revitalization
- diverse new housing.

As we continue in the public policy discussion, we must express our thanks for the attention and progress to date. We can also state our dedication to making sure that future stations and pedestrian connections, serve both our existing neighborhoods and future residents and land uses - as well as is possible. We need to continue to respect the similar aspirations of other neighborhoods and refrain, as we have all along, from any tendencies to criticize other deserving transit projects.

Congratulations to every single one of you who has helped us get this far and welcome to each of you who will join in on the remaining tasks. Breadth of participation is important. It is time to take our next step forward.