May 31, 2009

Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization
Program for Mass Transportation

Dear MPO:


I would like to repeat earlier testimony asking that the Commonwealth push forward with  the proposed Orange Line T-stop at Assembly Square. Over the years it has become clear that Assembly Square is a key development area for Somerville that potentially could remove Somerville from the ranks of those desperate for state aid to those that stand on their own. The existing plans are a good start. I would like to point out that current plans still propose only one head house, near the Federal Realty property, and none near the IKEA store. IKEA has begun to embrace a greener philosophy, and connecting their store with the T stop via a second head house, coupled with home delivery, would give them an opportunity to mitigate a known source of intractable traffic that will adversely effect  I-93 and Route 28.


I would like to suggest that the Commonwealth work with the MBTA and the City of Somerville to extend the proposed Green Line spur, which currently stops at Union Square, to Porter Square with stations at Dane Street and Lowell Street. The four stops, Union, Dane, Lowell, and Porter, are about 1/2 mile apart. The Commuter Rail, which currently runs to North Station, would stop at Porter Square. The commuters, instead of changing to the Green Line at North Station, would do so at Porter. This would have a number of benefits:

1. More Efficient Use of Transportation Dollars.  The Green Line alone carries about 50% more riders per day than the entire Commuter Rail system, and does so more frequently with more stops. The North Station terminus is on the outskirts of the central business district; many commuters would change to the Green Line anyway; why not do it at Porter and turn around the Commuter Rail train there?

2. Somerville T Service. Currently Somerville gets almost no benefit from the Commuter Rail right-of-way, which cuts Somerville in half. East Somerville is an environmental justice area; Somerville itself deserves good transit, and we aren't getting it. Running tracks through Somerville without stops is NOT service.

3. Lower Somerville Pollution. The trains are noisy diesel trains, and their exhaust is an important contributor to Somerville's health burden. Replacing diesel trains with electrified trains would be very expensive. The Green Line, on the other hand, is already electrified.

4. Economic Development at T Stops. Each new T stop would, like Davis, form the nucleus of new economic development  In particular, McGrath Highway could be made a boulevard at grade, connecting Brickbottom, Boynton Yards, and Union Square with vastly improved crossings.

I am pleased to see that the Commonwealth is making efforts to work with the community on these issues. Let's continue these efforts.

Thank you for your attention.

David Dahlbacka