Given the extraordinary shortage of state transportation funds relative to needed projects, Somerville has fared very well in the Boston MPO transportation plans voted today. We are fortunate to finally have the Green Line Extension listed in both the Amended Regional Transportation Plan â at over $1 billion â and in the 2010-2013 Transportation Improvement Program â at quick glance about $671 million of project expenditure between October 1, 2009, and September 30, 2013.
Assembly Square also has funds allocated for both the roadway infrastructure and the new Orange Line T-stop. Though obviously they are at a much more modest scale. The Orange Line T-stop is still programmed for a single headhouse but there will be a strong effort to continue to search for a way to do two headhouses so that this transit can truly serve most of Assembly Square and cut down markedly on IKEA traffic as well as other district traffic. It would be penny wise and VERY pound foolish to build a single headhouse station, one that would severely crimp accessibility to the southern half of Assembly Square.
There is a danger that all projects executed during a period of extreme underfunding of transportation In Massachusetts will be submitted to budget and bureaucratic pressures that could leave them mediocre. Obviously it is important that the Somerville community be vigilant over the course of these projects’ construction and implementation. We do not need any gold plating but we do need these projects to be robust in their ability to reliably (and cheerfully) serve current and future generations of residents and visitors.
Several key aspects of Somerville’s transportation transformation remain to be worked out. It is important to complete the Community Path at the same time as the Green Line Extension so that they can be implemented in a fully complimentary fashion. It is critical to work with the East Cambridge community on turning Route 28 (McGrath and O’Brien) into a true at grade boulevard BEFORE Green Line designs lock the current arterial configuration into one that is permanently brutal to abutting neighborhoods and economic development areas. And yes, the Green Line maintenance facility is hampering the environmental filings, at least in the view of the state. But we need to make sure that the communities of East Somerville and East Cambridge, already overrun by poorly designed regional highway and rail infrastructure, are not treated as an afterthought with regards to the impacts of yet another major maintenance facility.
Yet all in all, we owe a lot of thanks for progress to date â to Conservation Law Foundation, MAPC and the Boston MPO, as well as to the hordes of local Green Line supporters. The sun rose today, for the first time in our history, with realistic Green Line Extension funding listed in both the Boston MPO RTP and TIP. So congratulations to all of you! It has been a long journey and we all have a bit of travel still to go.