STEP’s key points for the Green Line FEIR meeting tomorrow
This is your chance to give the State your feedback on the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), covering issues such as station locations, the maintenance facility, the Community Path, noise and vibration, and the community involvement process as the Green Line moves into full design and build. Or just show up and give moral support! Meeting details.
Here is a summary of STEP’s perspective on the FEIR.
KEY POINTS ON ACCESSIBILITY TO STATIONS
- Design all stations to provide maximum multi-modal functionality (ped, bike, bus, and kiss’n ride).
- Require that station siting and design make pedestrian, bicycle and bus access easy, safe, and convenient.
- Design and reconstruct the bridges requiring incorporate the best access to the proposed stations and to facilitate construction of the Community Path.
- Support the East Cambridge Planning Team’s (ECPT) community and development friendly plans for redesigning Lechmere Square.
- Support the ECPT’s efforts to improve pedestrian crossing at McGrath Highway.
- Design Union Square Station to make possible a future extension to Porter Square.
- Require that the design and siting of the Union Square Station allows for convenient bus connections to the Green Line as well as easy access for Union Square residents and business patrons, and for riders using the station from Inman Square neighborhoods.
- Although not covered in the FEIR, a Route 16 station would be the best terminus for Green Line because it would serve Somerville, Medford, and East Arlington residents. It would promote economic development, would reduce vehicular traffic, and would provide convenient multi-modal accessibility.
KEY POINTS ON THE COMMUNITY PATH
- Extend the State’s commitment to design the Community Path to include the area from Inner Belt to North Point. (Currently the State plans to design the Path only to Inner Belt.)
- Budget the construction of the Path extension with the Green Line Project. The Path should be built with the Green Line Extension for 2 important reasons:
1. The Path will be critical for pedestrian and bike access to the new stations. The Path provides healthy transportation access now to the Davis Sq station; its extension will increase this benefit to many more Somervillians, and it will help to knit neighborhoods together that have been divided by the commuter rail tracks for decades. The Path will increase ridership at the lowest cost to the MBTA (as the Path has done for the Davis Sq. T stop).
2. The Path extension is only 2.5 miles; however, its construction will link the 18-mile Minute Man Path to Boston and to the Charles River Bike Path. Completion of the Path will provide a critical missing link in the regional bike network.
KEY POINTS ON PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT
- Although the FEIR (6_10) has stated that membership of the Design Working Group would include a Community representative for the Maintenance Facility no one was selected despite applications by several technically knowledgeable project proponents to participate. Since the community has not participated in discussions between MassDOT and the cities of Somerville and Cambridge regarding Option L, it is critically important that a community based representative is added to the DWG who can ensure that the Maintenance Facility and storage tracks are designed to maximize the use of developable land, minimize the impact on abutters and not impede required rail traffic to the BET.
- The FEIR section on Public Involvement does not detail the level of decision-making DWG members will have in setting agendas, approving designs, meeting with consultants when requested, etc. On page 3 of the DEIR Certificate it states that “…for the project to reach its maximum potential, MassDOT must continue to, and in some ways enhance or expand, project design and coordination efforts in a collaborative manner with State and city agencies, citizens, local businesses, and other stakeholders during all aspects of the project – planning, design and construction” (my emphasis).
- The Secretary’s Certificate states that the FEIR present a Public Involvement Plan “to facilitate robust community participation beyond the conclusion of the MEPA process” that includes for example, representatives of regional planning agencies, local government, business interests, community groups, representatives of EJ areas and the disabled community, abutters, and bicyclist and pedestrian groups) “to provide meaningful community involvement throughout the duration of the entire project, including detailed design, engineering, construction phases” (DEIR Certificate, p 25). Mass DOT has addressed some of these constituencies, but it does not appear that there is a representative from the EJ and business communities on the Design Working Group (DWG).
- The Certificate (p. 25) states a key to the overall success of the Green Line Extension project is the effective integration of light rail service into the existing urban landscape. It goes on to state that the PIP should facilitate collaborative land use planning, review of advanced project design elements (notably station design), and implementation of mitigation measures.
- For all participants in the DWG, the PIP should build on the lessons learned from the previous Advisory Groups. Most particularly, the DWG should include MBTA design and engineering staff at meetings to ensure that speedy discussion of issues and answering of questions occurs. This will help to keep the project moving forward.
- I want to reiterate the Secretary’s statement on p. 31 of the Certificate that “as project design advances, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will become the lead agency on the project and will ultimately be responsible for the construction and operation of the service. MassDOT and the MBTA must forge a collaborative relationship and make a strong commitment to continuing civic engagement opportunities during the design process as well as a transparent public information and outreach process once construction commences.”
KEY POINTS ON THE MAINTENANCE FACILITY
- Somerville appreciates Mass DOT’s selection of Option L as the site for the Maintenance Facility. This siting is better for Brickbottom and East Cambridge residents, and makes economic development in Brickbottom/Inner Belt area possible.
- Investigate moving Option L closer to I-93 (further to the east) to reduce the Green Line Extension costs of land-taking.
- Swap the land where the Commuter Rail office is located near Washington St. for the land the State will take for Option L to reduce the cost of the project and provide the city with good developable land in Inner Belt.
- Eliminate McGrath Highway overpass and open up Inner Belt & Brickbottom to reconnect the neighborhood
KEY POINTS ON CONSTRUCTION
- The project needs to work closely with the affected neighborhoods and small business districts to minimize the construction impacts on quality of life and business during construction.
- Thank Mass DOT for agreeing to establish a project field office and ombudsman and agreeing to a robust plan to work with neighborhood residents and businesses during construction.
Send written comments by 5 pm July 23, 2010 to:
Ian Bowles, Secretary Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
MEPA Office, Attn: Holly Johnson, MEPA Analyst RE: EEA #13886
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114