This afternoon was the first meeting of the Green Line Advisory Group. Topics included the scope of the Draft Environmental Impact Report, Green Line alternatives to be studied, and the schedule of upcoming meetings. Keep reading for notes from the meeting.
Notes taken by Ken Krause…
Presiding: Steve Woelfel, Project Manager from Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works (EOTPW).
With: David Mohler, Acting Deputy Secretary for Planning, EOTPW; Mike McArdle and Kristine Wickham of lead consultant Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB); Kate Fichter, EOTPW staff member; and Regan Checcio of Regina Villa Associates (public participation consultant).
Medford Advisory Group members present: City Councillor Fred Dello Russo, Ken Krause, Dr. William Wood.
The meeting kicked off the next phase of the Green Line extension project, which is the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) and Conceptual Engineering. This phase is expected to take 18 months; during this period, the Project Advisory Group will meet approximately 20 times to provide input and consultation on the project. There will also be approximately 70 additional public meetings during this phase, including 30 Neighborhood Briefings and 8 General Public Meetings at various project milestones.
Project Manager Woelfel explained that the DEIR phase will advance the project from a general, conceptual analysis like was done in the 2004-05 Beyond Lechmere study, to more specific analysis in an attempt to find the “best answers” to make the extension project “work for everyone.”
The DEIR will evaluate five alternatives for the extension:
1. No build; modify existing bus service. (This is a baseline alternative included in all such project studies.)
2. To Medford Hillside with a branch to Union Square via the Fitchburg commuter rail line.
3. To Medford Hillside with a branch to Union Square via Somerville Avenue.
4. To Mystic Valley Parkway with a branch to Union Square via the Fitchburg commuter rail line.
5. To Mystic Valley Parkway with a branch to Union Square via Somerville Avenue.
McArdle of VHB outlined the key early areas of focus for the study:
– Station locations and criteria; each potential station will undergo a “mini-alternatives analysis” of its own
– Maintenance facility location. Two leading options are Yard 8 and the existing commuter rail maintenance facility, both in Somerville
– Overhead bridges; field surveying will begin next week to determine which bridges will have to be rebuilt to accommodate the Green Line tracks under them.
– Intersections traffic analysis
– Design criteria for possible connection of commuter rail to Green Line and possibly the Urban Ring
Conducing the field survey and intersections analysis will be the immediate next steps, starting next week.
The following meeting schedule and topics for the Project Advisory Group were proposed (meeting sites and times to be determined):
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
– FTA New Starts Process (federal funding source)
– Guidelines for Refinement of Alternatives
– Detailed Project Schedule
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
– Station Siting (Station Program, Station Location Criteria)
– Maintenance Facility Program
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
– Alignment Requirements (Typical Sections, Constraints)
– Union Square Branch
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
– Definition of Alternatives
In the Open Discussion period, I stressed to the EOTPW representatives and consultants the need to be cognizant of two issues of major concern to people Medford â land requirements and potential property acquisitions, which should be avoided, and the importance of mitigating the effects of any relocation of the existing commuter rail tracks closer to peoples homes and businesses (sound barriers, decking, etc.).
Councillor Dello Russo stressed the importance of the MBTA also working to reduce or eliminate the harmful emissions from the diesel locomotives used on the commuter rail line.
During the Public Comment period, Carolyn Rosen, representing the Medford citizens group The Green Line Advisory Group for Medford, presented another alternative and asked that it be included in the DEIR study. This alternative would redirect the extension when it reaches Ball Square to travel in a tunnel under Broadway to Teele Square/Clarendon Hill in Somerville, then continue in a tunnel under Route 16 along Alewife Brook Parkway toward Alewife Station, where it would meet the Red Line. This alternative proposes an underground station at the Powder House Boulevard rotary, and a station near
Teele Square/Clarendon Hill.
The new project website, which was supposed to functional by the day of the first Project Advisory Group meeting, is expected to be available some time next week. The site will have meeting agendas, minutes, documents, and provide a place to sign up for email alerts on the project. The address is www.greenlineextension.org.
Next Project Advisory Group meeting: Wednesday, December 5, 2007, site and time to be determined.