On Monday, the state might be making the big decision on whether the Green Line Extension goes forward.
The Fiscal and Management Control Board will be devoting the first 90 minutes of its meeting to listening to public comments on the Green Line Extension and Community Path. This will be your last chance to speak directly to the people who will decide the fate of these vital projects before the Control Board votes on how to proceed.
If you haven’t spoken up already, Monday is your chance, and it may be the last! Even if you don’t speak, it’s important to have a big crowd there to show support. Bring a sign!
It’s Monday, 1pm, at 10 Park Plaza in Boston, Conference Rooms 1, 2 and 3. Please come!
Keep reading for some suggested talking points.
- We want a commitment from Mass DOT and the Governor that identified cost reductions will enable the project to go forward and that a commitment made now will be met. There should be no more opportunities to go back on the commitment.
- The GLX is a legal commitment under the Clean Air Act. Trying to find true substitutions for the same clean air benefits are unaffordable and would make costly lawsuits inevitable.
- Today, Somerville pays about as much to the MBTA for service as Newton, more than Quincy and somewhat less than Brookline but these communities are far better served by subway, commuter rail, and express bus service. This is not fair.
- The GLX provides huge air quality, health, and economic benefits for the community which is the most overrun by polluting highway traffic and all of the northern diesel commuter rail lines as well as the Boston Engine Terminal.
- We have made huge personal health and quality of life sacrifices for the benefit of world class economies next door in Boston and Cambridge.
- Davis Square thrived after the Red Line extension provided access to good public transportation. The same thing can happen in Union Square. The Union Square Green Line extension is a crucial component of the city’s future economic viability. This would be fair.
- Green Line stops in Union Square, East Somerville and Winter Hill will provide direct mass transit service to densely developed sections of Somerville with large minority and low-income populations, reduce traffic and encourage pedestrian access. This would be fair.
- With new T service, the transformation of Union Square and Assembly Square will provide jobs, stimulate the economy, grow Somerville’s commercial tax base AND improve air quality. This would be fair.
- The Green Line Extension will provide access to five Somerville Schools, including Somerville High School.
Why Somerville needs public transportation improvements
- Obtain benefit for the burden. Seven passenger-carrying train lines cross the city without stopping, dividing our neighborhoods. Each year 60,000 diesel train trips are made through Somerville. The MBTA uses a large piece of untaxed land in the city to repair these commuter trains. With Somerville bearing so many burdens of the region’s transportation, we deserve a greater share of the benefits.
- Reduce mobile pollution affecting our health. Somerville has the most excess lung cancer and heart attack deaths per square mile of any of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns. Pollution from excess traffic profoundly affects our health, especially for those exposed regularly to ultrafine particulates from over 200,000 vehicles on I-93 and routes 28 and 38. If people rode trains instead of being stuck in traffic jams, air quality would improve. This in turn would reduce the rate of asthma and other pollution-related illnesses. The potential clean air improvements of train service in Somerville are so great that bringing transit here is the largest unfunded Clean Air Act obligation for our state when it comes to transportation dollars.
- Improve quality of life. Somerville is the densest city in New England, and the fifth densest city in the US. Of nearly 19,000 residents per square mile, 27% of Somerville households don’t own a car. Even with poor rail-based transit service, we rely heavily on public transit; 29% of us ride commute daily on public transit to our jobs. That’s a higher percentage than residents of any other city in MA except Boston itself. Most of us live within walking distance of the planned Green Line stops. Train service can anchor vibrant neighborhoods, encourage walking and bicycling, and improve our quality of life.
- Attract business, create jobs, increase tax base. We’ve seen the economic resurgence of Kendall Square and Davis Square because of the Red Line. Kendall Square and the Red Line are getting overcrowded. Train service to Union Square can attract businesses and bring critical tax dollars to the city to pay for needed services.
- Decrease traffic congestion. Traffic in many parts of Somerville is badly congested. Most of us must leave our neighborhood or the city because of the lack of jobs in the city that a strong commercial base would bring. Good public transportation would ease commutes, personal trips and congestion.
- Improve air quality. From 1994 through 2003 Somerville had 29% higher lung cancer and heart attack age-adjusted mortality rates than the Massachusetts population as a whole. From 1989 through 2003 Somerville had 291 excess lung cancer and heart attack deaths. The potential clean air improvements of Green Line service in Somerville are twice as great as all the remaining Clean Air Act transit obligations connected to the Big Dig.
- We need the Community Path extended from Lowell Street along the Green Line. This will provide safe and accessible access to stations for pedestrians and bicyclists and will connect the Minuteman Trail to the paths along Storrow Drive. This will provide 55 miles of continuous off road paths in the Metro area.