Earlier this month the state put out an Invitation to Bid (ITB) for an unused stretch of land that once served as a railroad along the Chelsea Creek behind several current freight forwarding and rental car facilities.
The state was hoping to sell off the land that runs parallel to McClellan Highway in the form of easements through the ITB process. One company, Cargo Ventures, was reportedly ready to put in a bid for the mile-plus stretch of land to create an access road for its McClellan Highway freight company. Cargo Ventures’ bid would have given the company’s truck drivers direct access to Logan Airport via the Marty Coughlin Bypass Road.
However, the plan and lack of community process had elected officials, residents and neighborhood activists up in arms. Eastie is already suffering from terrible traffic and some felt selling off the easements would leave no opportunity for future traffic calming measures along the land while increasing airport related uses.
On Monday Chairman of the MBTA’s Fiscal Management Control Board Joe Aiello, who was against the plan to sell off the land, announced the state was shelving the ITB process until a review of the corridor and alternative uses for the land could be explored. At the Control Board meeting Monday Aiello said the state will look at possibly using the easements to improve mobility in and around East Boston.
“The news of the withdrawal of the procurement process is welcome, as is MassDOT’s commitment to a full study of congestion along the Route 1A corridor,” said AIR, Inc. in a statement Monday. “We need a comprehensive study which engages the public in a substantial and effective manner and addresses our past, current and future transportation challenges.”
AIR, Inc. urged the MBTA to advance this study in collaboration with community stakeholders in Eastie, Chelsea, Revere, and other long-neglected environmental justice communities.
“This could have resulted in adding thousands of additional airport freight trucks to already overburdened roadways,” the statement continued. “The soon-to-be-rebuilt Terminal E along with a series of airport expansion efforts now being undertaken by Massport will support massive growth in ground transportation…and development of 10,000 more residential units at Suffolk Downs will compound an already impossible problem. The purpose of the newly announced MassDOT study must be squarely aimed and scoped to address the regional airport and daily commuter transit crisis and on developing effective short and long term investment in a viable, defensible regional mobility system which addresses the long-neglected transit crisis.”
In a joint statement Eastie’s three elected officials, Sen. Joseph Boncore, Rep. Adrian Madaro and Councilor Lydia Edwards pointed to Route 1A as one of the most congested corridors in the Commonwealth as a reason to not support the current ITB process.
“Residents from Revere and East Boston deal with extended work commutes and quality-of-life issues that come with being the worst congested area in the country,” the statement said. “As a Commonwealth, it is our obligation to improve the quality of life for our residents, especially when it comes to transportation infrastructure and connectivity, which have direct impacts in our districts. Considering the imminent development along that corridor and Logan Airport’s perceived passenger growth over the next 10 years, it is incumbent on us to plan carefully to decide the best use for all public assets in the area. This includes expanding public transit infrastructure and promoting more green space to offset the development in the area.”
The three were also not comfortable allowing for a private entity to control a public right of way without key stakeholders understanding whether or not this is the best use for our current and future needs.
Mayor Martin Walsh also weighed in and said he wanted to ensure that future ITBs regarding the parcels do not preclude any critical opportunities to improve mobility in the area.
“The state, the city, other municipalities and the community need the opportunity to discuss how this land can best meet our shared goals,” said Walsh. “This will give us the opportunity to engage the community and conduct an analysis on the ability of this land to improve mobility and resilience in the Route 1A corridor and have that analysis and engagement inform the next steps.”