State to build 'bus rapid transit' from Mattapan to downtown; Common tunnel dead for now
UPDATE: The 28X project is dead.
The state will use $114 million in federal stimulus funds to build enhanced bus corridors along Washington Street and Blue Hill Avenue over the next three years, officials announced at a Dudley Station ceremony today.
Most immediately, Dudley will get a direct Silver Line connection to South Station this fall - which brought exclamations of joy from state Rep. Bryon Rushing, because the plan does not involve a billion-dollar tunnel under the Common.
"The tunnel is dead! The tunnel is dead!" he yelled.
Over the next three years, officials said, the 28 line between Mattapan and Ruggles will be replaced with a series of dedicated bus lanes, traffic signals controlled by approaching buses and other steps to create next-generation bus service.
"They days of highway expansion in the urban core, as epitomized by the Big Dig, are over," state Transportation Secretary James Aloisi said.
Mayor Tom Menino said he hoped the new bus lanes could be shared with bicylists.
Rushing and state Rep. Gloria Fox (Roxbury), both said they appreciated the new investment, but that it really isn't the true rapid transit people along the Washington Street corridor have been asking for since the old el came down.
"I'm all for rapid transit," Rushing said. "I want to have an announcement with you, Mr. Governor, with you, Mr. Mayor, with you, Mr. Secretary, when you can honestly say we have rapid transit on Washington Street."
Fox added the improvements will not do much good if the MBTA follows through on its planning to cut weekend service.