MPO TIP Process Reply

The Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization (Boston MPO) is a Federally-mandated organization responsible for conducting transportation planning for the Boston region. To do this, it develops a vision for the region and then allocates federal and state transportation funds to programs that support that vision.

The MPO develops the following planning documents:

Transportation Plan (Plan): The Plan, produced every four years, outlines the MPO’s policies and goals, assesses the current state of the region’s transportation, estimates future needs and resources, and describes a program for preserving and expanding the system over a period of 20 years. The current Plan, Journey to 2030, was adopted in June 2007 and amended in September 2009.

Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP): The TIP, updated every year, allocates funding for transportation improvements over a four-year period. A project must be included in the TIP to receive Federal funds. The Boston Region TIP lists all federally funded transit projects and all state and federally funded highway and bridge projects.

Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP): The UPWP, produced every year, outlines the planning projects, activities, funding sources, and budgets for one Federal fiscal year.

The planning documents the MPO produces must meet with Federal guidelines, otherwise the Federal government can withhold transportation dollars. In particular, the documents must be approved by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.

In addition, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the Massachusetts Department of Department of Environmental Protection must approve the plan for conformity with air quality mandates.

The Green Line Extension was mandated by the Federal government to address air quality problems in eastern Massachusetts, particularly ozone levels from I-93. This requirement was confirmed by the courts in response to a lawsuit by the Conservation Law Foundation. If the Green Line Extension is not carried out as agreed, Massachusetts is in danger of losing its Federal transportation funding.

Time Frame

  • Ongoing

Status

  • (8/25/12) Green Line Extension in 2012 SIP report.
  • (8/7/11) Green Line Extension removed from 2012-2015 TIP and postponed to 2018. It was originally supposed to be done in 2011.
  • (1/1/10) 2010-2013 TIP now contains the following Somerville-related projects:
    • Assembly Square Access Improvements $15,000,000
    • Reconstruction of Washington St $1,750,000
    • I-93 Mystic Avenue Interchange Study $448,750
    • Union Square Improvements Study $92,451
    • Assembly Square Multimodal Access Improvements Construction $6,259,219
    • Improvements to Broadway in Somerville Construction $2,484,748
    • Green Line Extension Project $48,600,000
    • Green Line Lechmere Station Relocation $1,000,000
    • Red Line-Blue Line Connector Design $6,000,000
    • Assembly Square Access Improvements (iCubed program) $13,000,00

Monitor

  • Make sure the GXL to Rt-16 goes into the TIP next year.
  • Make sure the Green Line and Assembly Square transit projects remain in the list of 2011-2015 TIP projects.
  • Make sure that the state holds to the 2014 schedule. The Green Line Extension has already been delayed by 3 years.
  • (7/31/09) The Green Line Extension and the Assembly Square Orange Line T-Stop weren’t in the 2007-2010 TIP.

Risks

  • So many Somerville projects are in the TIP right now that the western suburbs are starting to feel left out.
  • If the Green Line Extension to Somerville and the Assembly Square Orange Line T-Stop don’t remain in the MPO 2010-2013 TIP, they won’t be built.
  • In the past, the state has attempted to claim that other transit projects, such as the Greenbush Line to the South Shore, provided adequate mitigation for the degradation of Somerville air quality caused by the I-93 traffic increases of the Big Dig. Because health effects are local, this argument is specious and has been rejected by the courts.

Mitigation

  • Write comments and testify orally to indicate commitment to building the Green Line Extension and the Assembly Square Orange Line T-Stop by 2014.

Background

History

  • (1/1/10) Expedited 2-week review of 2010-2013 TIP amendment ends 1/5/10. Public meeting 1/7/10. No apparent affect on Somerville projects.
  • (8/25/09) 2010-2013 TIP now out for 30-day public comment period ending Tues. Sep. 22. Currently the Assembly Square Orange Line Stop and the Green Line Extension are both scheduled to be finished in 2014. The original Green Line Extension schedule had it finished in 2011.

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