Last week Rep. Adrian Madaro testified before the MBTA’s Fiscal Management and Control Board to express his disappointment that the long anticipated Red/Blue Line Connector project has apparently been put once again on the backburner.
MassDOT and the MBTA recently released its Focus 40 document that outlines the state’s vision for transportation for the next four decades.
Unfortunately the Red/Blue Line Connector did not make the cut and is not included in projects the state hopes to fund over the next 40 years. The only mention of a connection between the two MBTA lines is a pedestrian corridor.
Linking the only two MBTA train lines that have no connection has been something residents in East Boston and surrounding communities have been asking and waiting for since the 1970s. The Red/Blue Line Connector has long been a bone of contention between the neighborhood and the state ever since the Commonwealth reneged on its commitment to build the connector as part of Big Dig mitigation.
The project would extend the Blue Line approximately 1,500 feet to make a connection with the Charles/MGH Station on the Red Line.
“This plan (Focus 40) fails to adequately address the most critical priority for the Blue Line and the population it serves: a rail connection between the Red Line and the Blue Line at Charles Street/MGH Station,” said Madaro. “I strongly urge you to reconsider tllis vision, and to fulfill this longstanding commitment to provide equitable, efficient access to residents along the Blue Line corridor.”
Madaro said the previous gubernatorial administration’s abandonment of its commitment to this project was not only an economic injustice but also ignores and undermines populations served by the Blue and Red Lines—which include some of the lowest-income residents in the Boston area.
“To continuously ignore this long promised and much-needed project is tantamount to the highest disservice to those who rely on public transportation, particularly residents of the North Shore, who have repeatedly been denied this most basic and sensible of updates to the transit system,” said Madaro.
In April, MBTA announced it has paid $50,000 to hire engineers to begin a three-month study on the feasibility of the Red Line/Blue Line Connector. In April the MBTA’s Spokesman Joe Pesaturo cited significant development in Eastie and Revere, including the potential move of Seattle-based Amazon’s second North American headquarters (HQ2) to Boston at Suffolk Downs, as reasons to reexamine the stalled connector project.
However, while the study is a step in the right direction the release of the state’s Focus 40 document proves there is no appetite to fully fund the project.
“The communities of East Boston, Winthrop, Revere, Chelsea, Lynn, and others have long anticipated the improved access to the Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as the job-rich, economic hubs of Cambridge and South Boston; but these expectations have been stymied by the Commonwealth’s lack of action,” said Madaro. “Currently, residents of these cities are required to change trains several times or to walk a significant distance from Bowdoin Station, not the simplest of treks for those with mobility challenges or in inclement weather.”
Madaro said the Red/Blue Line connector is a sensible solution and one of the most fundamental steps in updating the MBTA subway system in anticipation of future transportation needs.
“The connector would not only prove a valuable economic link, connecting North Shore locations with economically important areas, but it would also significantly improve the transit service to and from Logan Airport and the communities northwest of Boston,” he said. “With the upcoming connection of Airport Station to Terminal E of Logan Airport, the connector would dramatically increase the convenience of travel to and from the airport, with the added benefit of reducing vehicular congestion in the streets of East Boston.”
Since the Memorandum of Understanding in 1990, when the commitment to this project was made, population growth and resulting congestion levels have increased significantly, and are only expected to continue rising through 2040, further underscoring the need for a full rail connection.
“By 2040, it will be fifty years since the Red Line-Blue Line connector was promised to our community,” said Madaro. “Half a century of stalling, excuses, and abrogation of this critical commitment is completely unacceptable. While the proposed pedestrian connection from State Street is not a bad idea, it does not go far enough, and it is not an equitable solution that will adequately serve the populations along the Red and Blue Line corridors. The MBTA should not be focused on installing the pedestrian connector as a stopgap measure while continually delaying a tangible commitment to planning and executing construction of the long-awaited rail connection.”