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State goes back to drawing board on Green Line Extension

The state announced today it's canceling all its contracts with the major contractors on the Green Line Extension through Somerville and Medford and will try to re-bid the project.

The project is not completely dead yet, however: Some construction work will continue and the emergency board that now runs the T is appointing an interim project manager to try to pick up the pieces and get the Green Line to somehow run north of Lechmere one of these years.

The Fiscal and Management Control Board directed T General Manager DePaola to notify the MBTA’s CM/GC (White-Skanska-Kiewit), the MBTA’s Project Manager/Construction Manager (HDR/Gilbane), the MBTA’s Independent Cost Estimator (Stanton Constructability Services), and the MBTA’s final designer (AECOM/HNTB) of the decision.

The decision marks the start of a transitional period, during which no new construction work will be awarded. During this time, however, much of the construction work that is already under contract and in progress will continue.

As previously disclosed, the GLX project, as currently designed, will significantly exceed previous budget estimates. The FMCB believes that if the GLX project is to be built, the MBTA must (1) reduce the cost of the remainder of the project by aggressively adjusting its design, (2) accurately determine a budget, (3) determine the best means to procure and deliver the design and construction of the project, and (4) ensure sufficient funding by engaging multiple funding sources.

The MassDOT board and the T board will try to figure out more detailed plans at a joint meeting this coming Monday.

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Comments

I was told construction would begin in 2012.

Imagine a world where the big dig was cancelled when the cost overuns started popping up

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Imagine a world where subway riders have their fares doubled over the course of about 12 years and drivers have their gas tax bill actually decrease over that time. Just kidding, you don't have to imagine it, because it is the world we live in.

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...seriously, the best solution is to buy a bike or rent hubway and commute by cycling.

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Are they still extending the bike path? Was that financed separately, or wrapped up in this?

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Any tips on the types of bike tires that work on water? The harbor traffic in the morning may be the least of my problems.

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IMAGE(http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/1200*675/9-27-2013-water-bike-th.jpg)

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who can't cycle because of disabilities...and of course, cycling is as weather permits. and personally, even if I could do it, I wouldn't coz of how people drive.

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I'm sorry you can't ride. As you note, bicycling isn't the answer for all, However, it should and can be part of the solution. It might not work on a trip from Framingham to Charlestown. But it can be the answer for going from Newton to Charlestown. The weather has been pretty nice to ride in as well. (Of course, the same could have been said last year) You can dress for the weather and you get pretty warm generating your own power. Boston drivers are no better or worse than anywhere else, despite media hysteria. You need to be aware of each other, just like any pedestrian, jogger, motorcyclist, scooter, hoverboard, segway rider,

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Honestly, I am more concerned about sharing roads with cars that I was 10 years ago because now many, many more drivers are driving distracted due to smart phones. I think real, separate bike paths are the solution of course but I don't see the political will to make that happen any time soon.

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You believe in taxation without representation? Cause that's essentially what the tax bill was that got voted down in 2014.

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Your representatives! Voters certainly had the right to vote it down, but let's not get carried away with the 1776 allusions. It's not like we live in DC or something.

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King George himself issued the edict, as millions of horrified Bay State residents looked on in horror. Gasoline taxes! Imposed by the sovereign hand itself! Luckily, we downtrodden in the Commonwealth took to the voting booths and oh god I can't even finish this parody how do you so horribly misunderstand history political economy and the function of government and still function as a human being?

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My only wish is that the gas tax was passed by representatives of the people and signed into law by a governor elected by the people rather than happening the way it did.

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Chaining the gas tax to the CPI was the mistake.
I think you'd find support for a tax increase but the way they did it, well that's their own fault.

Anytime you let a legislature off the hook from taking a stand, in this case future tax increases, they'll take a mile.

Too many have seen this before.

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But it was a mistake by those who represent us, just like the services tax a bit before that.

The issue was the "without representation" part of the screed. The debate about the taxes is a valid one (on either side, before we go down that route,) but the taxes were done by our representatives.

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Stop spreading lies just because you don't like how The People voted in the recent referendum. The gas tax increased. What was rejected was the part of the new law that allowed nonstop future increases in the gas tax without legislative oversight - the part of the law that gave un-elected technocrats (Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics employees who determine the yearly CPI) the power to tax Massachusetts residence more each year.

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Could you tell me who enacted the automatic indexing of the gas tax?

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it would be up and running by 2014.... sigh

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Extend it all the way back to the Arborway first !

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Never going to happen.

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Especially with the new Casey project, that line is never getting extended. They're ripping out all the tracks and putting a road over it.

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Is a group that's trying to get the Green Line extended to Hyde Square.

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A trolley makes its way through the Hyde Square circle in JP in 1949. Courtesy JPHS
IMAGE(https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtp1/v/t1.0-9/11209402_1054488064578654_3822427362639867305_n.jpg?oh=8bf1fe9e99f4b3e591e2c2364d5587a1&oe=571A7446)

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We got the technology to re- lay them, no problemos!
IMAGE(https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/ba/ae/50/baae5048c510e995091bc14860467243.jpg)

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The huge geographic gaps in densely populated areas are in Roxbury and where the GLX is. The Arborway line is redundant by comparison.

Somerville is one of the most densely populated areas in the country, as is the part of Medford this would serve. It is a travesty that this isn't already built.

(and I will reach through the computer and smack any dipshit who says "but Wellington and Assembly and Davis and Sullivan blah blah").

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'' The Arborway line is redundant by comparison.'' But it was already there Swirls. ( trolley from Arborway to Heath ) . And more trolleys ran out of there before and were eliminated. And Davis is a mere stretch of the leg from the Ball Square , and Gilman and Lowell.

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They sent it out in a press release as pretty much every single reporter in the city is writing about Ghost Train.

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I hope there's funding left for the commuter rail lines to Springfield and Fall River.

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Wasn't that the first thing Baker identified as a non-critical system expansion project that should be cut after the whole fiasco last winter?

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SCR is still happening - it's major capital investments are still years off and there's time to try and wrangle more Federal funds for it. No way Baker cancels it and pisses off a substantial segment of the State's electorate. A project-to-project comparison of SCR and GLX isn't the way its going to play out unfortunately - GLX's benefit just so immensely more substantial than SCR that any rational administrator would keep GLX and cut SCR; but that's not happening so to me it just indicates SCR has managed to keep its political coalition in tact and relevant enough.

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If you are a politician how do you justify the SCR in light of the imploding infrastructure of the MBTA? I dont get it. GLX is at least a viable project, with respect to being in the critical mass of the commuting public , and that is in danger now. Doesn't South Station need to be dealt with before SCR anyway. If anyone even considers funds for SCR under the existing troubles , they are into the nitrous oxide

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...have the politicians of this Commonwealth prioritized the MBTA's long-term health and the rational cost-benefit analysis of transit improvements over projects that score short-term electoral gains?

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It is now show time. The shit has hit the fan, No more duck, dodge and hide,

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how do you justify the SCR in light of the imploding infrastructure of the MBTA

I'm assuming Baker wants to be reelected. Cancel one project and there's a chance of survival, cancel both and there isn't. Baker doesn't have to make a decision right now about SCR, and early stage-SCR can cut more costs through value engineering, alignment adjustments, etc.. than latter stage-GLX. He doesn't need to engage with it, so he won't. I'm just surprised no other pols have brought it up; which I think implies there's some background political support for keeping it.

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Honestly, a commuter line to Springfield would be the best thing that's happened for that city in 50+ years. Not that it's going to, but gosh a WMass native can dream...

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Would ride the commuter rail 2+ hours each way every day?

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I can't speak numbers, but people do it. I have friends who commute down to Boston every day from the boonies of NH. I have a cousin who lives south of Albany and takes the train into NY several times a week. He gets a 5am coach. AMTRAK either provides pillows and blankets or all of the commuters bring their own and sleep.

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Honestly, a commuter line to Springfield would be the best thing that's happened for that city in 50+ years.

For the biggest bang for the buck, I don't think anything could beat the GLX. And this is coming from someone out in the semi-boonies who wouldn't benefit from it at all. It just makes the most sense.

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GLX would benefit Springfield how, exactly?

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You are getting one! It's just running up from New Haven via Hartford. Springfield-Boston is inter-city territory, not commuter. Springfield has never been within Boston's economic sphere; it was a metropolis in its own right - the only thing that's going to be Springfield back to its former glory is Springfield itself and, perhaps, a partnership with other River towns.

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Charlie Baker and the Republicans have had it in for this project (and for the MBTA generally) for as long as I can remember. From saddling the MBTA with excess debt from the Big Dig and manipulating the pension, to requiring that the T be "revenue neutral," the Republican strategy has been to consistently de-fund this vital resource, and then point to how poorly it serves its customers, and then to argue that it should therefore be privatized.

None of this is original to Baker or to Massachusetts. It's pretty much the standard play for privatizers worldwide. Chopping up and dismantling the public sector has been a very consistent goal of oligarchs and plutocrats the world 'round... this is but our own local instance of this larger trend.

We, the people, could in theory demand that our government be responsive to the needs of its citizens... but, then, too many of our citizens have sipped the Kool-Aid™ and believe that it's the unions, the pensions, and the public services that are dragging us down -- when, in reality, those are the things that try to make life tolerable for the vast majority of people.

We should be demanding more spending on infrastructure and public services, not less.

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The mismanagement of this project started a long time ago and was only discovered because the control board convened by Baker starting shifting through the cooked books to find out what was really going on.

" it's the unions, the pensions, and the public services that are dragging us down -"

Overgenerous underfunded liabilities to buy votes with perks and boondoggle make work projects are going to bankrupt the country. Illinois and California will probably go first.
http://www.pensiontsunami.com/

Puerto Rico already is acting as a demonstration project.

Ask yourself: WHERE DID ALL THE COST MORE THAN THE IRAQ WAR STIMULUS CASH GO?

The state got tons of it and pissed it away on pay, temp jobs, and busy work for overpaid paving contractors instead of fixing or expanding what really needed it.

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Some of the stimulus cash was put to good use. I did contract work using stimulus money to install new, high efficiency heat systems in publicly owned housing facilities for the elderly/infirm. It was a good project with fairly low overhead (just me!) that will end up saving the state money down the road and created a tangible difference to the people living in those buildings.

Yeah, a ton of money gets wasted, but a ton gets used pretty appropriately and nobody ever hears about it and then wonders what happened. The stimulus cash was designed to give people jobs, not pour into accounts to fix debt holes that weren't actively affecting employment at the time.

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"Yeah, a ton of money gets wasted,"
Are we that beaten down that it's OK? Imagine what a difference the "wasted" money would make.
It's not OK to waste money so lets stop rationalizing it. It seemed to me the same groups of people were the beneficiaries of much of that "Recovery and Reinvestment".

How many permanent jobs were created?

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Puerto Rico is a totally different situation, don't get that mixed up. MA has a strong tax base and an excellent credit rating and is not hamstrung by lack of representation in Washington.

As to your question about where the stimulus money went, that's off topic. More than half was in the form of tax breaks and support to safety net programs rather than infrastructure. (For example, I got $8,000 myself for a first-time homebuyer credit, and spent it on kitchen upgrades and a new furnace. You probably won't see my stove or furnace on the "what did we get for the stimulus" list, but that was income for plumbers and gasfitters and contractors and kitchen supply sales associates and factory workers). The infrastructure money from the stimulus was for "shovel ready" projects, so anything requiring longer-term planning didn't come into play.

Your hysteria about how unions are ruining America is really unbecoming. It's true that there are serious problems with the way we pay and manage public employees, and they are exacerbated by demographic changes and the increasing cost of healthcare, but calling it a "tsunami" of corruption is not going to solve these problems.

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Your hysteria about how unions are ruining America is really unbecoming.

It's also unfounded; union membership nationwide is something like 19% and dropping nowadays. It's a problem that'll soon go away on its own.

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Don't you think that the Koch Brothers will want credit for their ideas?

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Why should they when you never cite your sources?

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Close to 20+ years before the Green Line expansion was ready to begin, Charlie Baker had the genius idea to saddle the T w/debt so it wouldn't be able to complete the project. The guy is pure evil.

Please tell me how Republicans, who are a tiny majority of state reps and senators, were successful in underfunding the T.

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Yes, it is totally Baker's fault that WSK decided to game the bidding system and charge 33% on budget item. Baker should totally just let them continue forward and build a rail line that cost multiple times more per mile building a right of way that already have rails than multiple projects (like LA Expo Line II, Seattle University Link, Minneapolis Green Line and those are by US standards much less other countries and I mean first world countries).

But hey! By allowing ourselves to be ripped off, we'll be increasing our spending on infrastructure by $1bn more than planned.

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In case no one gets the above, yes, it was sarcasm. And the point of that post is to point out to Steve H and his 15 thumbs that save your conspiracy theory on Baker on posts that makes sense.

It makes no goddamn sense to attack him and weave an entire narrative here when we are getting absolutely ripped off. By what you implied, what Baker should do, if was not some Evil Republican Car-driving Anti-Transit demagogue, is just let WSK keeping building and build by their rip-off of a price. Or maybe he somehow manipulate the project $1bn over-budget which still make no sense. Since he's only governor since last January and all numbers are by exactly what WSK been charging.

Show me how Baker cause this absurd overrun or save your comment when he do actual anti-transit things within a context that the most "transit" action doesn't mean spending $700 million a mile on existing tracks.

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If the T were private, it’d more likely be forced to run a balanced budget and respond to its users needs far more than today. Also, MA has one party rule for the most part, the funding and excess of the T is hard to blame on Republicans, particulary when much of the expense is due to employee over-compensation.

As for the person who said that fares have exploded… Boston’s fares have been artificially low for years relative to other municipalities. Or places where you pay by distance (though that has issues of regressive pricing, not that it can’t be fixed with tax credits perhaps).

In either case, Baker has to fight tooth and nail against the legislature to hold this organization accountable. To blame it on him is simply laughable. Yeah, the unions really have the rider’s back. Keep telling yourself that.

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If the T were private, it’d more likely be forced to run a balanced budget and respond to its users needs far more than today

We privatize the major roadways first and make those run a balanced budget with entirely user-funded strategies?

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The short history of public transit in the United States:

  • Entirely built by private concerns in the 1800s.
  • Entirely privately funded. (Often granted government monopolies and eminent domain takings, but entirely funded by users.)
  • In the 1920s state and local governments started massively building, standardizing, and upgrading roads and highways for the automobile. This is for example when numbered routes came into being.
  • This is a huge subsidy to auto manufacturers: In the case of private transit companies and railroads, they were entirely responsible for the cost of their rolling stock, stations, tracks, all of it. Their real estate was taxed - often heavily - by local governments. The auto manufacturers get their "tracks" entirely for free (paid for by taxpayers).
  • Public transit companies - subways, streetcars, and buses - all start going bankrupt.
  • Social justice advocates demand the government support public transit for people who can't afford cars; governments create transit authorities basically as a welfare program.
  • In the 1950s the Federal Government builds the Interstate highway system.
  • What the geniuses did to local transit they now do to the passenger railroads.
  • Railroads try to cut service to stay afloat, and government mandates that the railroads continue to provide service even to money-losing locales (among many other horribly counter-productive actions).
  • Passenger railroads go bankrupt.
  • Government creates Amtrak in the 1970s again as a welfare program.
  • Now the taxpayers have to pay for both the roads and the transit system.

This is what Harry Browne referred to when he said: Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, "See, if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk."

I don't know if privatizing it would fix it at this point, but I know the government can only make it worse. Indeed, Republican-style privatization is often nothing like creating true free-market companies, and is typically just cronyism. But the idea that the government, which spent a century creating this mess we call publicly-funded public transit, is ever going to fix it, especially by just throwing more billions of dollars at it, is even more absurd.

How many billions do you think the taxpayers should spend to fix this mess? The T wants $7B just to get their equipment to work again, not to expand service to meet current needs. And if we commit $7B of other people's money, when do you propose we recognize that once again we've been had? When they spend $8B? When they spend $10B? When they've spent $10B and come back saying they need another $10B just to finish what they started?

Another apropos quote: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

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Charlie and Weld had a much different approach when the Big Dig costs were escalating, keep on spending and don't stop the project or cut any ramps or reduce the amount of lanes. Or charge people to use 93. But now he is doing what has caused so many of the cost issues, delay delay delay. If Weld and Charlie, or Cellucci, or Romney had not kept postponing this legally obligated project (while moving ahead with commuter rail expansion which requires much more rider subsidies to operate), this would have been done now and for less money.

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Never gets mentioned in the stories but every time they delay the price goes up. Most likely so they can breathlessly compare to 1976 estimate of the cost (never even corrected for inflation) and crow about ineffective Big Guvmint.

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they crafted for the big dig. Because the private sector always does things better they handed Bechtel a blank check as builder, designer and owners rep. They were headed that way with the green line extension when they figured out that it would be cheaper to move the entire city of Somerville to Boston than hand the reins over to another private entity to act in the public interest.

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The Control Board concluded that on the GLX, Skanska was basically thieving, inflating its bids because it could.

Tossing them out on their ear and rebidding should get better bids. It's the right move.

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Make it happen. I ride through tunnels over 100 years old every day. Whatever the hell the present day cost to build our original subway tunnels cost, it was worth it. Bury the Silver Line underground, add in an underground loop through Southie off the Red or Silver, extend the Green and Blue.

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