The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 15, 2000


Towns review draft of regional transportation plan for 2000-2025

Old data underestimates growth, traffic problems in Middlesex Towns

At the December 7 meeting of MAGIC (Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination), representatives of surrounding towns were critical of the draft of the MTO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) Transportation Plan for 2000-2025, as it does not adequately address the very large growth in jobs, population, and traffic congestion in their communities, nor the larger growth issues for the future.

Federal regulations require that a plan be in place by January 16, 2001 or the region will risk losing federal funding for its transportations programs. Comments on the draft are due on January 5, with the final version issuing on January 16, 2000. The 220-page draft plan (Plan 2000) is available on the Internet and may be downloaded at Comments on the plan may be addressed to and must be received by 3 p.m. on January 5.

Current draft only an interim plan

MTO representatives present at the meeting admitted that the current draft is only an "interim" plan designed to meet the federal deadline. The draft outlines nine proposed policies which serve as the guiding principles for the plan. It contains extensive information on current Boston area demographics, land use, and transportation patterns and problems. However, it does not develop scenarios for the future, nor any significant models for meeting the 25-year needs. There is no detailed analysis of future land use. The list of major projects in the current draft is limited to those already committed for the near term.

The MTO expects to continue working and to issue a more fully developed plan, Plan 2001, by June 2001. Over the next six months, the organization plans to develop several scenarios for future population and employment growth, land use, and a transportation analysis.

Many corrections needed

Members of the MAGIC group, who had received advance copies of the hefty draft, were asked to comment on the policies and strategies, as well as on the descriptions of current transportation systems and patterns. The discussion was spirited and specific, and based on thorough homework. Members pointed out that the plan ignores the fact that the economic center of the state, which had been based in Boston, is moving west. For example, Middlesex county is experiencing the fastest growth, due to large new employment centers being created by companies such as Cisco Systems. There is already a substantial "reverse commute" on major highways and secondary access roads in the region. However, existing transportation systems have not kept pace. For example, the earliest train out of Boston arrives in Shirley at 10 a.m., too late for any commuters employed in that area.

Others pointed out that the data on which the plan is based is outdated, creating errors in describing the present situation in the MAGIC area. For example, the plan states that Ayer shows a 10 percent loss in employment, although there is actually a gain in employment. Also, there are several errors and few comments about Hanscom Field.

MAGIC members agreed that they would submit written comments and that these would be compiled into one letter to the MTO. There were no Carlisle representatives at the meeting.

Sustainable tax policy study

Judy Alland of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) informed the group that MAPC has received funding from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to study local tax policy in relation to land use decisions. Members agreed that this is an issue in many towns, where land use decisions are being made based on the anticipated revenue stream.

Carlisle Trails Committee has vacancy

There is currently a vacancy on the Carlisle Trails Committee. The trails committee provides the community with information and opportunities to enjoy trails, maintains the trail network, and plans and preserves trails. The committee meets on the first Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. If you are interested in this position, contact Steve Tobin at 369-1680.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito