Friday, June 22, 2007
MAGIC questions state's data for transportation spending
In an appearance at a MAGIC (Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination) meeting on June 7, at the Carlisle Town Hall, Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie, Selectman Doug Stevenson and Planning Administrator George Mansfield briefly presented current issues facing Carlisle. Stevenson, speaking for the group, talked about 40B development, affordable accessory apartments, and deed restrictions on affordable units within a 40B development as well as changing demographics in the town, such as the increasing number of older people.
MAGIC weighs in on TIP list
The TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan) list represents a final winnowing of state transportation projects that have been proposed, accepted and funded. Items on the TIP list include: Crosby's Corner, the Concord intersection at which Route 2 makes a right angle turn, has been on the list for years and is currently scheduled for 2009. However, since a collapsed bridge or other emergency can usurp a place on the list, any project is always uncertain.
MAGIC's recommendations for transportation planning and programming, or criteria for making it to the TIP list, as agreed on by representatives from the 13 member towns (Acton, Bedford, Bolton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Stow, Sudbury) and reiterated in a March letter from MAGIC chairman Richard Canale to MPO (Metropolitan Planning Office), are threefold. First, to provide public transportation and supportive feeder service between the urban core and suburbia. Second, to reduce congestion through increased commuter rail parking. Third, to increase opportunities for transit, para-transit, and other alternatives to single-occupant vehicle travel. The last essentially changes MPO's major emphasis from highway planning to "increases to transit, and suburban, bicycle and pedestrian mobility."
MPO requests local input
MPO staff members Mary Ellen Sullivan and Efi Pagitzas, from the MPO UPWP (United Planning Work Program) asked for local input on assigning projects and priorities to the TIP list. Their data reflected other criteria than those included in Canale's letter. MPO presented detailed traffic analysis data on crash incidence at interchanges and intersections in the area and maps showing travel speeds and congestion data, information which was to be weighed with local requests in assigning a project to the TIP list. Instead of a discussion of projects, the UPW team encountered united criticism of the data itself on the basis of provenance, recency and accuracy. For example most of the data on travel speeds and frequencies was collected between 1999 and 2000; crash data was from1999 to 2001; the most recent data was from 2003 to 2005. Sullivan and Pagitzas said that the situation was getting better "slowly," but to planners familiar with towns where there has been an explosion of new development, and estimated increase in cars using already congested roadways, 32,000 cars along 117, 21,000 projected on Middlesex Turnpike and more thousands expected along route 20, assurances that the figures "are improving" was disturbingly insufficient. Gordon Feltman, from Bedford, asked, "Along what roads do we think those 53,000 cars can get to where they are going?"
The quality of the original data coming from the Registry of Motor Vehicles was also questioned. In 2002 the form that generates the data became more complicated and many responders were unwilling to complete it. At this time, MPO is going to the police for data. Sullivan expressed a hope that things will continue to improve.
Letter to MPO about data
Determining TIP awards on the basis of figures which will be ten years old when the money is finally released to build them was considered unwise in face of the current road congestion. Lincoln representative Sarah Mattes recommended "a small strike force" to search for solutions and a systems analysis because some data errors resulted from the way information was tracked in the system. Mattes' proposal for a task force was converted to one for a letter to MPO, which Mattes will draft and present at the July MAGIC meeting. Any changes will be too late for this year's TIP list, since the UPWP set Monday, June 14, as the final date for community input.
© 2007 The