We remain pleased with the decision of MassDOT to concentrate its efforts on the all at-grade option for the throat area of the Allston Multimodal Project as recommend by Pioneer Institute and others. However, we are deeply concerned that the construction will negatively impact commuters coming into Boston from points west. With turnpike lane reductions and work-zone slow orders, congestion during the multi-year project will no doubt cause extreme delays for drivers. Therefore, reliable, on-time commuter rail is a necessity as the project moves forward.
Yet MassDOT has yet to assure commuters that the Worcester Mail Line will have two-tracks open for the duration of the project. The Notice of Project Change (NPC) states the following in Section 2.3.21 – Construction Impacts:
Each Throat Area option will provide two WML tracks when MBTA Railroad Operations construction criteria is met to ensure safe commuter rail operations throughout construction. However, a minimum of one WML track is required to maintain MBTA commuter rail service at all times. Short-term outages are expected for all three Throat Area options.
The Worcester/Framingham line is the commuter rail’s flagship line. Although slow to return to pre-pandemic levels, ridership continues to grow. Commuters need assurance that disruption will be minimized, and that two-track service will be provided throughout construction without exception. The above statement in the NPC is contradictory to that end.
Limiting rail service will not only increase congestion and the pollution that goes with it, but it will also serve to further incentivize many to continue or increase remote work schedules and limit the economic recovery so many small businesses in Boston are dependent on.
Mary Z. Connaughton