Senator warns ‘Now or Never’ on Mass. Ave. funding

Senator Donnelly warns "we will lose this project" to other communities if we do not act this year.

Senator Donnelly, at February hearing, warns “we will lose this project” to other towns if we do not act this year.

Further delays in the Mass. Ave. Project could cost Arlington $6.8 million, State Senator Ken Donnelly warned today.

That alarm, two weeks before Arlington will vote on an oddly worded ballot question on Mass. Ave., was also sounded by the town’s Transportation Advisory Committee.

Writing in today’s Arlington Advocate, Donnelly lays out the worst-case scenario: an eleventh-hour attempt to revisit the design for Mass. Ave. would “leave insufficient time to redesign and meet the September deadline.”

In that case, Donnelly warns, “it is most likely that we will lose the 100 percent funding—$6.8 million—that has been allotted to fix Mass. Ave. in East Arlington.

“We will most likely never see this funding commitment again and we will be forced to use our town dollars instead of federal funding in order to fix the road,” he said.

Update: the Advocate has published Donnelly’s essay online.

Donnelly delivered a similar warning at the February 26 Mass. Ave. hearing, where his warnings of lost funding were met with cheers by plan opponents.

His caution was echoed by the town’s Transportation Advisory Committee, writing in an unusual statement that appeared in the Advocate and also at Arlington Patch and YourArlington.com.

The committee went beyond its usual role of explaining the technical issues involved in the project to warn that “there is no guarantee of future funding…. Who pays then?”

Failure to move forward on this project at this time will represent not only an unjustifiable and irretrievable loss of millions of dollars in funding, but a complete disregard of the democratic policy-making process which facilitated this effort from the beginning.

The committee also called pedestrian safety “the most important consideration” and said “it is inherently safer for pedestrians to cross only three travel lanes rather than four.”

Donnelly also warned that “four lanes wold require a reduction in sidewalk width or parking in order to accomodate a wider outside travel lane.”

plans

One of many public design meetings for the project (Hardy School April 4 2011)

Also in the Advocate, plan opponent Eric Berger urged voters to support his nonbinding referendum for four travel lanes “as now practiced.”

He did not explain what that would mean (no lane striping?), or address lane configuration, funding, safety, or any of the other issues that have been central to the planning process over the past four years.

As of this writing, the Advocate had not put any of these columns online. Donnelly’s commentary, “It May Be Now for Mass. Ave. Corridor Project, or Never” appears at the bottom of page C6. Berger’s, “Mass. Ave. Corridor Project Developed in Secret,” is above Donnelly’s.

The Transportation Advisory Committee’s is on page B6 under the title “TAC Supports the Mass. Ave. Corridor Project” and is also posted at Arlington Patch and YourArlington.com.

This has been loads of fun, but Arlington can’t keep playing with its food forever. Time to use it or lose it.

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2 comments so far

  1. Alan Tauber on

    Many of us are very afraid we will lose the money for the whole thing. A shame.

    • Adam Auster on

      Alan, it seems incredible that this is even a possibility given the support for this project, and I still think it’s unlikely. But there doesn’t seem to have been any justification for the second hearing or the 3-month delay, either.

      Donnelly has been steadfast about laying this on the line for us. Mass. Ave. opponents booed him at the hearing last month, but when he warned that we could lose the funding they cheered.

      Weird crazy times.


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