For the most recent information on the following public meetings and others that may have been scheduled after TRANSReport went to press, go to www.bostonmpo.org or call (617) 973-7119. A photo ID is required to access most meeting sites.
Public Review Period Scheduled In May
The Boston Region Metro-politan Planning Organization (MPO) will be voting early in May to release two draft planning documents for a 30-day public review period: the draft federal fiscal years (FFYs) 2014–17 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and the FFY 2014 Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP).
The TIP documents the federally funded highway and transit projects and programs that will be implemented over a four-year period. The UPWP describes the planning studies and activities that the MPO staff will conduct during the next fiscal year, as well as other significant transportation planning studies in the region.
During the public review period, the MPO staff will host two public workshops and two information sessions to provide an overview of the draft plans. (See the meeting schedule)
The MPO will be accepting written and verbal comments throughout the public review period.
Funding For New Construction
The development of the FFYs 2014–17 TIP was initiated last November when the MPO staff began identifying transportation projects for consideration for funding in this TIP. Over a three-month period, the staff sought input from the public by holding TIP-Building workshops and information sessions, and by attending regional planning meetings.
In February, the staff began reviewing identified projects that were far enough along in the design process that they could be evaluated to determine how well they would help to achieve the visions of the MPO. The projects that received a high score and could be made ready for construction over the next four years were prioritized.
Further prioritization occured in March, when the MPO recieved its funding targets. Approximately $296 million in federal funds was made available for programming over the four-year time frame of the next TIP. A large share of those funds will be applied to multiyear projects that have been programmed in the current TIP (covering FFYs 2013–16).
The group of projects recommended for funding in the new TIP will be shown in tables made available on the MPO’s website at the start of the public review period.
Concurrent with the outreach for the TIP, the MPO staff gathered ideas for new studies to be included in the FFY 2014 UPWP through public meetings and conversations with regional planning bodies. Regional transportation agencies and other MPO staff also proposed ideas.
Starting in February, the MPO staff coordinated with the UPWP Committee of the MPO, which reviewed all of the study ideas and developed a recommendation of new studies to be included in the FFY 2014 UPWP.
The draft UPWP, containing descriptions of the new studies recommended for FFY 2014 along with descriptions of the MPO’s ongoing work and studies from previous years, will be available on the MPO’s website at the beginning of the public review period.
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Members of the public are invited to attend the MPO’s spring public meetings to learn more about the Transportation Improvement Program and Unified Plan-ning Work Program and how to participate in the transportation planning process.
Another objective of the workshops is to refresh communications with people under the umbrella of the MPO’s Transportation Equity Program, which seeks to involve minorities, people with low incomes, and people with limited English proficiency in the transportation planning process. Attendees will be asked to identify transportation needs and to share their concerns about transportation issues affecting their communities.
In addition, the MPO is planning to update its Public Participation Plan this year. As a first step, the MPO staff will attend the meetings to ask for ideas on how the MPO’s public outreach program should be improved. Surveys will be made available.
Spring Outreach Schedule
On The Agenda: Tip And Upwp Transportation Equity Public Participation
Thursday May 30 5:30 PM To 7:30 PM Framingham Town Hall, Nevins Hall, 150 Concord Street, Framingham
Getting there by transit: Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line (Framingham Station); and several MWTRA bus routes. (See www.mwrta .com or call 508.935.2222 for MWRTA details.)
Wednesday May 29 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM Lynn City Hall, Room 302, 3 City Hall Square, Lynn
Getting there by transit: Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line (Lynn Station); MBTA bus Routes 429, 431, 435, and Express bus Routes 426, 455, and 459.
Wednesday June 5 Two Sessions: 12:00 noon to 2:00 PM 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM State Transportation Building [A photo ID is required for access to the State Transportation Building.]
Getting there by transit: Orange and Silver lines (New England Medical Center Station);Green Line (Boylston Station or Arlington Station); and MBTA bus Routes 43 and 55.
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Boston Region MPO Action Items
The Boston Region MPO approved Amendment Four of the federal fiscal years (FFYs) 2013–16 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) following a 30-day public comment period. The amendment programmed $2.23 million of Statewide Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program funds for the Reconstruction on Trapelo Road and Belmont Street project in the towns of Belmont and Watertown, as well as $53 million in Statewide CMAQ funds for the MBTA for the purchase of 10 new locomotives.
A fifth amendment to the TIP was released for public review at the April 18 MPO meeting. This proposed amendment would make changes to both the Highway and Transit programs of the TIP. For the Highway Program, the amendment would revise costs and schedules for several projects, update federal earmark amounts, and program two new bridge projects. For the Transit Program, it would reorganize documentation of the MBTA’s capital funding program to comply with funding categories and programming levels in the new federal transportation legislation, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The public review period closes on May 21.
The MPO also voted to advance project proposals to the MassDOT Rail and Transit Division for consideration for funding through the federal Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom programs.
The Boston Region MPO gave approval for its staff to begin work on the following new work programs:
MBTA Bus Schedule Maps: This work program will create new bus route schedule cards for the MBTA using contemporary software.
Household-Survey-Based Travel Profiles and Trends: Using data from a statewide travel survey that the MPO and MassDOT jointly administered in 2010 and 2011, the MPO staff will develop narratives, maps, and graphics that describe the travel behavior of people in the region and, where possible, will compare it to data from the last travel survey, which was done in the early 1990s.
MBTA Bus Service Data Collection VIII: This work program represents a continuation of data collection work that the MPO staff has been conducting for the MBTA since the late 1990s. Field staff will collect data on bus ridership and bus travel times for use in the MBTA’s service planning process.
MBTA Rider Oversight Committee Support: This work program describes the body of work that the MPO staff will continue to perform in support of the MBTA’s Rider Oversight Committee (ROC). The MPO staff provides technical assistance and analytic work as needed for the committee.
Roadway Network Inventory for Emergency Needs: This pilot study will gather information on state-owned and municipally owned traffic signals in the urban core area to document the types of signal equipment in the region’s emergency routing network. This project will also add a GIS layer for signals and update a GIS layer on bridge infrastructure conditions on the MPO’s All-Hazards Planning Web application.
Regional Transportation Advisory Council Updat
The Advisory Council met on April 10 to review and discuss the development of two of the MPO’s certification documents, the FFY 2014 Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) and the FFYs 2014–17 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). (For more information about these documents, please see the article on page 1.) One of the primary functions of the Advisory Council is to provide advice to the MPO as it formulates these plans. Over the next couple of months, the Advisory Council’s TIP and UPWP committees will review the two documents in detail and provide input into the Advisory Council’s comment letter to the MPO.
Access Advisory Committee to the MBTA (AACT) Update
Judge Patrick King, the independent monitor who was appointed by the Federal Court in the 2006 settlement agreement between the MBTA and the Boston Independent Living Center, attended the April meeting of AACT. He and Chris Iwerks of Bertaux+Iwerks Architects presented the results of the recently completed three-year study by Bertaux+Iwerks Architects of signage at MBTA stations.
Mr. Iwerks, an expert on wayfinding, studied the MBTA system and made recommendations for improving the MBTA’s wayfinding program. His recommendations are intended to improve the ability of people to navigate through the MBTA system visually, by using Braille signage, and by other methods.
The AACT Board of Directors election will take place at the May 22 AACT meeting. Absentee ballots are available for members who are eligible to vote but who will not be attending the meeting. Please contact Janie Guion at 617.973.7507 (voice), 617.973.7089 (TTY), or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
As the entity responsible for deciding which transportation projects receive federal funding in the greater Boston region, the MPO reached out to the state legislature in early April to lend its support to Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed transportation finance plan, A Way Forward: A 21st Century Transportation Plan, which calls for an investment of $13 billion in the commonwealth’s transportation system over the next 10 years.
Faced with a significant shortfall in available federal and state funding for meeting pressing transportation needs, the MPO agreed that the governor’s plan accurately identified the need for approximately $1 billion per year to maintain the commonwealth’s transportation system in a state of good repair and to make targeted expansions of the system to spur economic development.
The MPO expressed concern that transportation finance legislation under consideration by the state legislature, while addressing short-term needs, would not provide enough funding to sustain the system over the longterm. Further more, the proposed funding levels would require MassDOT to raise revenues by hiking transit fares, tolls, and Registry of Motor Vehicle fees.
The MPO urged the legislature to seek revenue sources that will yield funding levels close to those proposed by Governor Patrick. It also reached out to municipal leaders in April to encourage them to take this message to their legislators.
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The MassDOT Board of Directors recently approved the MBTA’s $7.2 billion Capital Investment Program (CIP) for state fiscal years (SFYs) 2014–18. The CIP is a rolling plan that details the MBTA’s priorities for funding projects to maintain the transit system in a state of good repair.
Federal grants compose the largest funding source for the MBTA. The two-year reauthorization of the federal transportation legislation, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), ensures funding for the projects in the SFY 2014 element of the CIP, but the availability of federal funding for projects in SFYs 2015–18 is less certain.
An opportunity for increasing state funding for MBTA projects lies with the state legislature, which is debating proposals for increasing funding for transportation.
The Governor’s proposed plan, A Way Forward: A 21st Century Transportation Plan, would make $6.7 billion available to the MBTA over a 10-year period for state-of-good-repair priorities, such as subway and bus vehicle procurements, a number of infrastructure projects (e.g., power and signal systems, and the rehabilitation of bridges, facilities, and tracks), and projects that unlock economic growth in the commonwealth, which include the Green Line Extension, South Coast Rail, and South Station Expansion.
The CIP is available at www.mbta.com/cip.
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