September 13, 2009

Katherine S. Fichter
Executive Office of Transportation
Office of Transportation Planning
10 Park Plaza, Room 4150
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Re: State Implementation Plan (SIP) – Transit Commitments 2009 Status Report (July 1, 2009) and Draft FY 2010-2013 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and Air Quality Conformity Determination (August 21, 2009)

Dear Ms. Fichter:

This letter is with regard to the 2009 SIP Transit Commitments Report and the draft TIP and Air Quality Conformity Determination.  While the July Commitments Report gives the status of the Green Line Extension from Lechmere to College Avenue, the August Conformity Determination does not mention the extension from College Avenue to Route 16. Furthermore, the portion of the Conformity Determination devoted to the 2010-2013 TIP tables does not list either the Green Line Extension or the Assembly Square Orange Line T-Stop as supported projects.  Projects not included in essential public documents such as the 2010-2013 TIP are in danger of not receiving Federal funding -- which could result in the projects being essentially killed by the Federal government. Please rectify this error.

The 2003 MBTA Program for Mass Transportation study argued against continuing the Green Line Extension because other transportation projects in the Boston region mitigated the air quality problems produced by the Central Artery project region-wide. Such arguments are likely to be repeated in the current austere fiscal climate. When you evaluate these arguments, please remember that health effects are local. According to studies in southern California, people who live close to "hot spots" such as major arterial roadways are at much higher risk for lung disease than people living in more remote areas. Because regional air quality measures combine hot spots with remote areas to produce a lower regional rate, improvements based upon regional measures cannot be relied upon to mitigate local health effects. Somerville's high rate of excess heart attack and lung disease suggests that regional improvements are not doing so.

For over sixty years, Somerville has suffered the disruptive effects of regional transportation infrastructure, including diesel trains and degraded air quality, while deriving no benefit from it. For reasons of environmental justice alone, Somerville deserves the Green Line Extension and the Assembly Square Orange Line T-Stop. Please support the Green Line Extension and the Assembly Square Orange Line T-Stop as ongoing projects.


David Dahlbacka