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Transportation

The Transportation Committee

The highways that are built to sustain our sprawling suburbs add to our pollution and energy problems, and increase our dependence on an auto-centric way of life which is unhealthy, anti-social, and unsustainable. The Big Dig drained fiscal support away from maintaining the deteriorating highways that we already have and from expanding our public transit infrastructure, beyond a few ill-conceived projects like the "Silver Line" bus and the "Urban Ring" busway.

These are some of the many transportation items that we've been working on:

Increase Funding for the State's RTAs
There are 15 Reguional Transit Authorities (RTAs) in Massachusetts, all of which require assistance from the tate to continue serving their customers. RTA funding, for those other than the MBTA, has fallen by 5 percent since 2009, despite sharp increases in  operating expenses. Long-term solutions to financing all RTAs has been put on hold until the next legislation session, but if the bailout compromise serves as an indication, those solutions may bring a more regionally equitable approach to public transit in Massachusetts.

Central Massachusetts Rail “Knowledge Corridor”
Connecticut has been upgrading its Amtrak line from New Haven to Hartford and Springfield, increasing the frequency of its passenger service to hourly; and Vermont has just rebuilt its line from the Massachu-setts line nearly to the Canadian border, with the intention of eventually extending Am-trak’s “Vermonter” to Montreal. Massachusetts is currently purchasing the tracks be-tween Springfield and Vermont, which it will rebuild to connect the two lines and pro-vide more direct, frequent passenger service in the Connecticut River Valley. Coupled with a planned upgrade of the tracks from Springfield to Worcester, these improvements will also allow for the resumption of Boston-New York service along the “Inland Route.”

Boston North-South Rail Link
Boston's North and South Stations are a little over a mile apart, separating Boston’s two commuter rail networks and forcing Amtrak passengers who are continuing to Maine to make an awkward cross-town transfer to get to their connecting train (Amtrak's website recommends taking a taxi). Linking the two stations with a tunnel would allow for direct train service from New York to Portland, and improve the operational efficiencies of connecting Boston’s north and south side commuter rail systems.

MBTA Green Line Extension
This project is one of the 1990 Central Artery Transit Mitigation Commitments still outstanding. Currently in planning and scheduled to start construction during the coming year, it would extend the Green Line from its present terminus at Lechmere Square in East Cambridge, into Somerville and Medford.

MBTA's Red Line/Blue Line Connector
Another one of the Central Artery Commitments, this project would extend the Blue Line ¼ mile to Charles station, allowing for a direct transfer between Boston’s two rapid transit lines that currently lack such a connection and relieving pressure on the existing downtown transfer stations. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has petitioned to be excused from this Commitment based on fiscal considerations, a move that the Chapter and many other community groups strongly oppose.

MBTA Silver Line/Blue Hill Ave Corridor Transit Improvements
In 1987 the MBTA abandoned the old Orange Line elevated above Washington Street, without the provision of the promised light rail replacement service to Dudley Square. Ever since, the residents of Roxbury and North Dorchester have had to make do with the slow and overcrowded “Silver Line” bus. The Chapter has long advocated for rail on this busy route. Several years ago state transportation planners convened a community process to assess and design appropriate public transportation infrastructure for the corridor through Dudley and along Blue Hill Avenue to Mattapan Square; many members of the surrounding communities strongly believe the route should be served by some form of rail transit.

Join the Chapter Transportation Committee us to help the Sierra Club encourage public transit and pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods. Contact John Kyper - see contacts page for more.

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See Also
Transportation Committee
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Massachusetts Sierra Club Transportation Network

 

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