Mike the Mad Biologist

By way of Elana Schor, we read that the MBTA’s Silver Line extension proposal, which would be a “one mile tunnel connection between the existing Silver Line/Washington Street Service (Phase I) and the existing Silver Line/Waterfront Service (Phase II)”, is in trouble. According to the Department of Transportation (pdf), the MBTA’s proposal isn’t measuring up in the following areas: local financial commitment rating, capital plan rating, and the operating plan rating (these are all funding issues).

The extension would be a good thing, and integrate underserved parts of the city (particularly South Boston) into the subway system. It’s also $1.7 billion, and, if you haven’t noticed, there’s a depression* on, so you might not want to leave $1.7 billion–which would be thousands of jobs–on the table. If MBTA doesn’t get this, people need to be fired.

Having said that, there seems to be something a little odd (italics mine):

Interestingly, the three transit projects that have yet to reach a Medium rating got subpar evaluations of their local governments’ financial contributions even though their proposed federal share of capital costs was comparable to the those for successful transit projects in Minneapolis and Denver. (Boston’s preferred federal share stands at 60 percent, Sacramento’s at 50 percent and Miami’s at 47 percent.)

Part of me wonders if this is ‘Big Dig’ blowback. Regardless, our Congressional delegation, including our new senator (and, for once, Senator Kerry might want to do some good constituent service), need to start plugging away for this, especially since it doesn’t appear to be financially worse than other cities’ proposals.

Letting a good proposal die would be political malpractice.

*It’s a depression, since the issue is crappy debt, not a cyclical or shock-based downturn.

Comments

  1. #1 Moopheus
    February 23, 2010

    Don’t see anything at all for the Green Line extension through Somerville that we’ve been promised for some years now.

  2. #2 Tony P
    February 23, 2010

    I note that funding for the streetcar line in Providence is starting to get funding. This is good news and about god damned time.

    They took out the tracks in 1948 and gave us buses that consume expensive diesel fuel and tires.

    I say we make GM pay, oh wait, they’ve been trading at 83 cents a share so I doubt they have the capability.

  3. #3 Bill
    February 23, 2010

    The current Silver Line travels at half the speed of the Green Line, carries a fraction of the passenger load of a Green Line train, has substandard ride quality, and is suffering from a leaking and crumbling (yet brand-new) tunnel. And the 60′ buses cannot run on the surface on slippery days.

    The Silver Line is an uncomfortable, cramped, slow-moving, joke. Light rail is the only thing that really makes any sense in a city where high ridership quickly swamps even the more spacious rapid transit lines.

    Unless you want to buy more buses, pay more people to run them, have them crawl through the tunnel bumper-to-bumper to handle the load (and still not up to the Green Line standard) and have a reserve fleet on hand in case winter ever happens.

  4. #4 Blake Stacey
    February 23, 2010

    Moopheus:

    Word on the grapevine (I get e-mails from STEP occasionally) is that the Massachusetts DOT is sending out field workers to do noise/vibration testing, soil boring and suchlike.

  5. #5 Michael J. Carter
    February 23, 2010

    To even refer to the silver line as a joke would be insulting to all the other joke subway systems in the world. On day while commuting from southie to revere I encountered the Red line being down at park so I said “i`ll just take the silver line to logan and get on the blue line there it goes to logan it must connect right?”

    NOPE after crawling through the tunnel in heavy traffic it swings through all the terminals and heads back to Southie.. no connection to the blue line even tough it comes within 1000 yards of it. I had to get off of it take an airport bus to the blue line.

    This thing is a dedicated bus route that at a few places has its own tunnels. Nothing more. To put one more dime of anyone’s money into it would be criminal the money should be going to extending service hours ,extending the green line or the blue line as we have been promised for decades.

    http://southbostontaxi.com

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