Residents concerned that state officials might be considering alternative options

October 22, 2009
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On Monday, October 26 the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) will hold a public meeting for the Red Line/Blue Line Connector, a major transportation initiative that will be the subject of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) in 2010. The meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at The Shriners Hospital, 51 Blossom St., Boston.

However, the tone of this upcoming meeting has some people in East Boston concerned that the state may again try to renege on its commitment to a connector.

According to the release the bimonthly meeting, that includes a project working group made up of community, business, neighborhood, City of Boston and other municipal representatives, will focus on ‘alternatives’ to a Red Line/Blue Line Connector.

“The project will look at options for extending the Blue Line approximately 1,500 feet to make a connection with the Charles/MGH Station on the Red Line,” read the release. “Alternatives for the project are under investigation and include options with the existing Bowdoin Station eliminated or reconfigured.”

By ‘alternative’ residents are hoping it doesn’t mean scraping the entire project due to its expense and trying to find a cheaper way, perhaps through shuttle bus lines, to connect the Blue and Red Lines.

The Red Line/Blue Line Connector was a crucial MBTA project promised to Eastie that would make the commute easier for those who travel to jobs in Cambridge or doctors appointments at Mass General.

The state has set aside $29 million to design the subway tunnel and recently the EOT held another meeting of a project working group for the connector. The last meeting officially kicked off the public involvement process that will include public meetings as the project advances.

The meeting in Boston discussed how the Red Line/Blue Line Connector would link the only two lines that do not intersect in the MBTA’s rapid transit system. The Blue Line runs from Bowdoin Station in downtown Boston to Wonderland Station in Revere, a distance of approximately seven miles. The project will look at options for extending the Blue Line approximately 1,500 feet to make a connection with the Charles/MGH Station on the Red Line.

The Red Line/Blue Line Connector was a key piece of Big Dig mitigation that would make life a lot easier for Eastie residents commuting to doctor’s appointments at Mass General or to jobs in Cambridge. However, the Romney administration tried to renege on the commitment the state made to East Boston for its support of the Big Dig. The commitment to extend the Blue Line to the Charles/MGH stop on the Red Line was all but abandoned by Romney until the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) sued the state.

In 2006 while Romney was still governor, his administration had a change of heart and signed an agreement to move forward on long-standing projects like the Red-Blue Connector, providing interim deadlines for existing projects, and by bolstering the public participation and oversight process agreement.

In March 2005, CLF sued the Commonwealth saying that the state had fallen substantially behind on a number of the transit projects promised to communities to offset the increased traffic and pollution from the Big Dig.

The settlement obligates the Commonwealth to prepare a final design of the Red-Blue connector, linking the Blue Line at Government Center with the Red Line’s Charles/MGH station.

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