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E-mails show bureaucratic inertia, finger pointing might be to blame for missing steps man fell through at JFK/UMass

The Globe reports.

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….what a mess JFK is. The renovation was only 33 yrs, ago yet there is rust, water damage, peeling paint & flaking concrete everywhere. They have been bustituting lately on alternate weekends between JFK and Broadway so I have been navigating the station more in the past 2 months than in my entire life using the T. There are spots on the risers of the stairway leading to the buses which have rusted completely through. Nothing life threatening but still disconcerting to see

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It’s as if they have no fear of losing their jobs.

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There's no reason for it. They're doing the job they're allowed to do. And are well compensated in doing it.

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In a salt spray environment.


And, yes, people do get fired for these things. Having a union just makes it less likely that a low-ranking state worker will get scapegoated for systemic leadership failings.

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The owner would have been fined and forced to repair them.

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The stairs themselves originally belonged to DCR until 2009, when the Legislature reorganized the state’s network of transit, shifting responsibility for major roads to the newly created Department of Transportation.

But while custody of the Columbia Road overpass was transferred to MassDOT, the law did not explicitly transfer the staircase leading to the MBTA’s station below. In the years to come, none of the agencies involved would be sure which held responsibility.

If you were to buy a house, you should know where the bounds of your property are, and if the fence is your property or if it belongs to the neighbor. The Legislature effectively sold the property from one agency to another, but forgot to include the staircase in the deed. No one wins when there are loose ends like this, and unfortunately, in this case, someone lost their life at least partially as a result of it.

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Isn't the MBTA a unit of MassDOT?

It's not as if this was transferred from/to a group entirely unrelated like MassPort, etc.

And while I fault the legislature for tons of things, this is a case where they (MassDOT, MBTA, DCR) are really passing the buck. The staircase was inspectioned by multiple of these agencies with plenty of time to figure this out. From the Globe article, it seems as if none of agencies even bothered to alert the other department, let alone bicker about ownership.

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Who do you think made the list of properties that the legislature voted on? The original lists where complied by the MBTA, MDC, etc. It's not as if a random Massachusetts state senator would or should know what specific things belong to each agency. They depended upon these agencies to compile the lists in which the laws were based.

So for MassDOT, MBTA, etc to blame omissions in the law is asinine given the omissions where the result of these agencies in the first place.

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“It must have gotten lost in the transfer.” Which happened TWELVE YEARS AGO! Steve Poftak responds right away: what other assets are like this? Steve, you read my mind…

Hard not to call this gross incompetence. It’s the kind of thing that could give a government agency a bad name!

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Bureaucratic inertia? Finger pointing? In Massachusetts?

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