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News & Notes

One proposal to combat sea-level rise in Boston, convert Clarendon Street into a canal.

BostInno: 6 Visuals for How Boston Can Adapt to Rising Sea Levels

Though Boston has historically grown outwards into the ocean, with landfill expanding its boundaries over the decades, the threat of it being submerged back into the Atlantic is very real. Though the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has introduced numerous legislation in an attempt to curtail rising sea levels, as has the City of Boston, there needs to be a shift in thinking from how we can combat the effects of climate change to how we can adapt to them.

A new report published by the Urban Land Institute’s Boston/NewEngland branch makes a number of municipal design suggestions and reaffirms on several occasions that the time to act is now.

The study, called The Implications of Living With Water, examines four specified areas dangerously at-risk should Mother Nature decide to unleash her wrath in the form of a hurricane not unlike Sandy, which devastated the Eastern seaboard from New York City down to Florida.


BostInno: It’s Official: Allston Is Going to Get a New MBTA Station

Tuesday afternoon Governor Deval Patrick announced that previously derailed plans for West Station are back on. When West Station is complete, commuters will be able to make direct trips back and forth between Allston and Back Bay or South Station – without having to suffer the misery of the Green Line.

Harvard University will help pay for the new railroad station in Boston’s Allston neighborhood.

The MBTA has long range plans to do short run subway-like service on some of it’s commuter rail lines within areas in and close to Boston using smaller DMU trains.

If/when the MBTA moves ahead with plans for purchasing DMU’s, Rhode Island should be ready to get on board with them (sorry). DMU’s would be perfect for running higher frequency intra-state service in Rhode Island.


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The Herald News: Flanagan says Foxwoods has secured option for 30 acres in South End of Fall River; source says location is New Harbour Mall

new-harbor-mall

Image from Google Streetview

On Jan. 28, Foxwoods Casino CEO Scott Butera unveiled plans to develop a $750 million resort casino in Fall River that would include a 140,000-square-foot gambling floor, approximately 20 restaurants, a 350-room hotel, a “name-brand” shopping mall, an entertainment arena and a convention center and spa.

Officials said the project would reportedly create between 3,000 and 5,000 jobs and generate millions of dollars in revenue.

Some of those jobs will likely go to Rhode Islanders, the reported site sits right on the state line along Route 24, however that revenue will not be coming to Rhode Island. When exactly is the R.I. General Assembly going to come up with a plan to ween us of our dependence on gambling revenue?

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News & Notes

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Image from Boston Public Market Facebook page

The Boston Globe: Boston public food market set for construction

Executives with the nonprofit organization behind the market said some vendors will begin selling products in an outdoor plaza along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway this spring. Meanwhile, construction will proceed next door on a facility scheduled to open in early 2015.

Once completed, the indoor market will host about 40 vendors selling a wide array of local products, including fish, cheese, meats, produce, flowers, and specialty items. It is designed to function like a daily farmer’s market. But vendors will also offer prepared foods and dry goods such as books, candles, and cooking utensils.

A draft layout also includes space for a demonstration kitchen, where chefs could host cooking classes, as well as a 3,000-square-foot restaurant facing the greenway. Executives with the market are beginning to look for restaurateurs interested in the space.


The Boston Globe: Governor Patrick’s down payments on a transit legacy

Governor Deval Patrick isn’t hopping the Red Line to get to work, but that hasn’t stopped the comparisons to Michael Dukakis.

The Duke famously took the Green Line when he was governor, and Patrick’s latest transportation plan, released last week, revealed an infusion of money into rail and transit that represents the biggest commitment since the Dukakis days.

Over five years, Patrick proposes to devote more than 40 percent, or about $6.6 billion, of his transportation capital plan to the MBTA, rail, and other forms of mass transit.

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Worcester opens new bus hub

worcester-bus-hub

Photo from Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Worcester, Mass. has opened their new bus hub at the city’s Union Station. The hub connects local WRTA buses to intercity buses, Amtrak, and MBTA commuter rail and features real time electronic bus information, covered bike parking, and charging stations for the agency’s new electric buses.

See more information on the USDOT Fast Lane blog and in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (includes video).

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Assembly members seek federal waiver for RIPTA to cross into Fall River

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Fall River

As part of attempts to restore service to Tiverton and Little Compton, RIPTA is looking into strategies to connect that service to SRTA in Fall River.

Legislators ask for federal waiver to connect potential RIPTA route to Fall River bus line

STATE HOUSE – Four state senators and representatives from Aquidneck Island have sent a letter to the Rhode Island Congressional delegation, requesting their assistance in allowing the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) to receive a waiver of insurance for interstate travel between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Representatives John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) and Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton), as well as Senators Christopher S. Ottiano (R-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol) and Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton), have been engaging in discussions with RIPTA for the past year with the hope that the authority will return service to Tiverton. Currently in discussion is a proposal to create a more profitable route that could connect to a Massachusetts bus line in Fall River, which RIPTA officials say requires a waiver at the federal level.

The letter states: “RIPTA, as you are aware, is self-insured. For them to carry insurance beyond their own would be cost prohibitive and would effectively kill any sort of connection to the SRTA system. The staff at RIPTA has told us that they would only drive into Fall River MA for approximately a half mile to make the connection and turn around their busses”

In September, Representative Edwards sent a letter to RIPTA Chairman Scott Avedisian – also the mayor of Warwick – expressing his concern about the lack of RIPTA’s presence in his district, pointing out that public transportation and infrastructure is a crucial “instrument of job growth” and benefits other areas of importance like “education, daycare and general livability”

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News & Notes

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Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Matunuk. Photo © RIDOT

The Atlantic Cities: Even More Evidence Climate Change Will Hit East Coast Cities Particularly Hard

Batten down the hatches, East Coasters: A new study argues that for every one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees F) of global warming, the American Atlantic seaboard could see up to seven times as many Katrina-sized hurricanes.

Oh, yay!


Mobilizing the Region: Poll Finds Support for Tolls In Connecticut

The majority of Connecticut voters support the return of tolls on state highways — under certain conditions — according to the latest poll from Quinnipiac University. While 58 percent generally oppose tolls on Connecticut highways, 57 percent would support them if the toll revenue were to be used to repair the state’s roads and bridges.


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News & Notes

GoLocalProv: Guest MINDSETTER™ Aaron M. Renn: My First Impressions of Rhode Island

Thinking about it this way, the basic problem of Providence (and by extension the rest of Rhode Island) becomes obvious: it is a small city, without an above average talent pool or assets, but with high costs and business-unfriendly regulation. Thus Providence will neither be competitive with elite talent centers like Boston, nor with smaller city peers like Nashville that are low cost and nearly “anything goes” from a regulatory perspective. There’s little prospect of materially changing either the talent/asset mix or the cost structure in the near term even if there was consensus to do so, which there isn’t. So expect struggles to continue, even if there’s a bit of lift from a change in national macroeconomic conditions.


DC Streetsblog: Will Massachusetts Tax Parking Lots to Fund Transit?

Here’s a transportation funding idea that aligns incentives nicely: taxing parking lots to pay for transit.

That’s what one former high-ranking state official is proposing for Massachusetts, ahead of a big announcement by the state Department of Transportation. Earlier this week Governing Magazine looked at the parking lot tax plan, part of a series of policy recommendations laid out by former Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary James Aloisi.


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MassDOT Releases 21st-Century Transportation Plan; Fully Funds South Coast Rail

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Crews work on a New Bedford rail bridge in October 2010. Photo © MassDOT

Highlights:

Building on the Patrick-Murray Administration’s record of commitment to the South Coast, the plan includes funding for the completion of the South Coast Rail Line with diesel-fueled commuter trains to connect Boston to Fall River and New Bedford. The $1.8 billion investment will result in greater mobility for South Coast residents and less congestion on Route 24. The project is expected to create 3,800 jobs and generate $500 million in new economic activity statewide annually.

The plan will also include a $5.4 million increase in funding for the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) in FY14. The South Coast investments in the plan, including interchange improvements at Routes 24 and 140 in Taunton, improvements to Route 6 and Fauce Corner Road in Dartmouth and reconstruction of Route 18 from Cove Street to Griffin Court in New Bedford, are designed to ensure regional transportation equity, create jobs and expand economic opportunity.

The plan addresses systemic budget deficits at the MBTA, MassDOT and the 15 Regional Transit Authorities, much of which has been caused by the debt burden related to the Central Artery.

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Wicked Local Westport: Creating an interstate public transit partnership

When it comes to providing public transit to Tiverton, Rhode Island officials may be reinventing the wheel instead of expanding the spokes that are already there.

There is much to be gained. If SRTA and RIPTA followed normal commuter patterns instead of treating as a blockade a state border that motorists and pedestrians cross all the time, it could better link the region’s residents with jobs and educational opportunities crucial to the region’s economic development.

So it is not just us talking about these things.

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Link

Mass.gov: MassDOT Goal – Triple Travel by Bicycle, Transit, Walking

MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey today in Springfield announced a statewide mode shift goal of tripling the share of travel in Massachusetts by bicycling, transit and walking.

With the mode shift goal MassDOT will be able to foster improved quality of life by improving our environment and preserving capacity on our highway network; by letting other travel options absorb travel demand that contributes to highway congestion that is slowing our potential for economic growth. In addition, we will achieve positive public health outcomes by providing more healthy transportation options.

As noted by DC Streetsblog, Secretary Davey is the only state transportation head in the country who does not own a car. :swoon:

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And you want a train, and you want a train…

New London

Amtrak train at New London Station. Photo (cc) mjpeacecorps

The Day of New London editorialized this week about our new train service to Wickford Junction. The gist of the editorial being they like more trains and want even more. Currently, New London is stuck in a bit of a train void, Shore Line East service to New London does not run on weekends, and at this point neither does MBTA service to Wickford Junction. Nonetheless, a weekday drive from New London to Wickford Junction, parking in the garage, and a ticket to Boston cost less than either driving straight through, or paying for direct Amtrak service from Boston to New London.

New Londoners seem pleased that at the Wickford Junction ground breaking, MBTA officials expressed optimism for extending service further south the Westerly, which would put MBTA commuter rail service within 15 miles of New London. At the same time, weekend Shore Line East service to New Haven from New London is set to start in a year (putting Westerly within 15 miles of commuter rail service to New Haven and New York).

Meanwhile, The Herald News of Fall River reports that officials in Bristol County, Massachusetts are a little miffed that we’re getting commuter rail service built deeper into Rhode Island while Fall River, Taunton, and New Bedford still lack commuter rail service. Though Mass. State Sen. Michael Rodrigues is realistic about the issues involved.

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Link

Boston.com: MBTA unveils 23 percent fare hike; limited service cuts also proposed

MBTA riders would pay an average of 23 percent more and most service cuts would be spared under a budget-balancing plan that will be announced this morning by the T, the state’s top transportation official said in an interview.

The changes, to take effect July 1, are significantly less severe than the two proposals unveiled by the T in January and widely criticized at hearings throughout Greater Boston in recent months. Those proposals would have relied entirely on fare increases and service cuts to make up the $160 million deficit the MBTA faces for the upcoming budget year.

No word yet on what will happen to Commuter Rail service.


See also: MBTA.com: Fare and Service Changes: MBTA Staff Recommendation

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Boston.com: New Balance details Brighton plans

Athletic shoe giant New Balance released detailed plans Wednesday for a new Brighton world headquarters that will include at least four new buildings with offices, restaurants, a hotel, and a sprawling sports complex that may offer everything from ice hockey to tennis.

The company filed a detailed proposal with Boston city officials, kicking off a months long process to review the 14-acre development project off Guest Street. The tallest buildings would be between 16 and 20 stories in height.

It would be nice if Providence had a company that wanted to expand itself say onto the 195 land…

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MBTA proposes service cuts, fare increases

MBTA

MBTA Commuter Rail train at Providence Station. Photo (cc) willismonroe

If the MBTA’s proposals for fare increases and service cuts [.pdf] come to pass, we could be not seeing trains after 10pm or on weekends at Providence Station, or any commuter rail station for that matter. For the remaining trains that continue running, the one-way fare may raise as high as $11.25 from the current $7.75.

While service frequency to T.F. Green was just increased and the train station at Wickford Junction is set to open this spring, the MBTA is facing a monster deficit of $161 million. The deficit was $185 million before the agency knocked $24 million out of it through “efficiencies and savings in energy, operations, health care.” Also, while it is down slightly from 2010 to 2011, non-fare revenue is generally up over the last decade. That leaves fare increases and service cuts as the current last resort for closing the deficit.

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Heading to Massachusetts I presume

As hundreds of thousands in Massachusetts enter their third day without power after this weekend’s historic winter storm; I spied something I’m sure they’re all eager to see.

Utility Trucks

Utility trucks parked in the lot across from the Providence Hitlon

It reminds me of Hurricane Bob on the Cape back in 1991. Convoys like this kept pouring over the bridges from as far away as Virginia and Québec. Even so, we were still two weeks without power.

Utility Trucks

Utility workers apparently having a meeting about the work ahead.

Hopefully crews can get our friends in Massachusetts and elsewhere hooked back up ASAP.

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If we MUST have a casino

Welcome to Fabulous Providence

Photo illustration, original image (cc) mkoukoullis

Massachusetts has gone and approved casino gambling in the Commonwealth. They will allow slots at racetracks and 3 full scale “Vegas-style” casinos in the state. Both Fall River and New Bedford have been angling for a while now to get a casino in their cities.

Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox was quoted in the ProJo as being “very concerned” about a Bay State casino(s). The General Assembly here in Rhode Island has approved a 2012 ballot question asking voters to allow table games at Twin River in Lincoln.

Of course the concern comes from the fact that Rhode Island’s economy is addicted to Twin River. We get over $275 million from Twin River plus another $28.7 million from Newport Grand. Of the New Englanders going to play slots at Twin River, 56% of them are from Massachusetts (according to The Providence Journal), a percentage sure to drop precipitously if Bay Staters have slots and table games at home.

So while I personally am opposed to gaming as an economic development tool, it seems inevitable that the Assembly will move to leagalize full “Vegas-style” gaming here in Rhode Island.

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Fall River’s Veterans Memorial Bridge opens westbound

Fall River-Somerset, Veterans Memorial Bridge, September 2011

Fall River-Somerset Veterans Memorial Bridge. Photo © MassDOT

Have you been sitting in traffic on the Braga Bridge in the last decade and looked north to see a new bridge being built? Ever wonder when the hell that thing was going to bedone. Today the bridge, named the Veterans Memorial Bridge, had a soft opening today.

The bridge will eventually connect Route 79 in Fall River to Somerset. The bridge carries Route 6 and will replace the aging Brightman Street drawbridge, which was built in 1906. The new bridge is also a drawbrige, but with a higher span, will require less openings allowing road and water traffic to move more freely.

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Help Springfield

Damage from the June 1, 2011 tornado which struck Downtown Springfield and neighboring communities
Photo from MassLive.com

By now everyone is surely aware of the two tornadoes that touched down yesterday afternoon in the Springfield, Massachusetts area. There was significant damage to homes and business in the Springfield area.

The Springfield Republican reports that The Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross is accepting donations to help storm victims.

Visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter at 506 Cottage St., Springfield, MA 01104 or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

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