Red Line Project Enters Traffic Jam
A project to connect the MBTA's Blue Line and Red Line might coincide with the rehabilitation of Storrow Drive, which could begin in 2010, according to a Department of Conservation and Recreation official.
While the state has made no promise to build the Red-Blue Line connector, which would extend the Blue Line under Cambridge Street to the Charles MGH Station, they are legally required to finish designing the system by 2011. If funding is procured, construction might start a couple of years later. The possibility of overlapping with the Storrow Drive rehabilitation depends on the duration of construction, which could take more than two years. In addition to Storrow Drive, the state has also acknowledgted the importance of fixing the Longfellow Bridge, the Cragie Dam and Cragie Drawbridge.
"It raises the larger question that all of the projects need to be phased," said State Rep. Marty Walz. "Certainly we know Storrow Drive and Longfellow Bridge will be done, and if the Red-Blue Line Connector is built, it certainly would have to be phased appropriately. . . . The alternative to not phasing these projects appropriately is not allowing traffic into Boston, and because the alternative is so wholly unacceptable, it's not a situation of 'it would be nice to phase these projects.' It is essential to phase these projects."
At an October 17 scoping session on the Red-Blue Line Connector, David Mohler of the Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) said that plans are preliminary and his agency is aware of the need to sequence the projects.
Malek Al-Khatib, a West End resident at the scoping session, said he is very concerned about the sequencing of the construction and also pointed out at the meeting that if the construction on the Red-Blue Line Connector had to be pushed off until after 2020 because of other transportation projects, the 2011 designs would be outdated.
however, Al-Khatib said despite those reservations he is very suportive of the project.
"We are definitely for this project because it helps ease the vehicular traffic on [Cambridge] Street, and encourages people more to use the train and the subway instead of cars, and that helps the environment."
Carrie Russell, an attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation, said that other construction projects like Storrow Drive or Longfellow Bridge make moving forward with the Red-Blue Line connector essential, so that commuters have alternative transportation methods. At the meeting she voiced her group's strong support for the project, citing a reduction of air pollution and increased convenience for commuters as potential benefits.
not everyone is enthusiastic. Some Beacon Hill and West End residents raised concerns that Cambridge Street, which has recently undergone a costly rehabilitation program, would have to be completely torn up to construct the 1,400 foot tunnel underground.
"[Cambridge Street] will be put back in the same condition," said Mohler, adding that EOT will try not to make the mistakes that delayed the current Cambridge Street project.
Some at the meeting were simply concerned about yet another noisy construction site in their backyard.
"I don't see the end of these projects," said Dan Oullette, a West End Civic Association board member. "I would like some kind of reassurance that I'm not living in some sort of construction combat zone. . . . There's a limit to how much I can tolerate. It's gotten to the point where I've got to go out of town to get some peace and quiet."