Aggressive push to sell Blue Hill Ave proposal

By 
Alex Owens, Special to the Reporter
Jul. 23, 2009

AloisiTransportation Secretary James Aloisi had his Charlie Card at the ready as he boarded the 28 bus in Mattapan Square on Wednesday morning. The main bus route from Mattapan to Roxbury had one more commuter than usual Wednesday morning as state Secretary of Transportation James Aloisi Jr. rode the Rt. 28 bus and spoke with riders about controversial changes he has planned for the Blue Hill Ave. corridor.

Accompanied by state senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Aloisi ate breakfast at Brother's Café in Mattapan Square before hopping on the bus for the ride to the Dudley Square Silverline station. “I don’t think people have paid attention to this neighborhood for a long time, so people are a bit skeptical, when we come in with this big idea,” Aloisi said.

Aloisi’s long ride is part of an strategy to sell the community on his proposal for an revised “Rt. 28X” bus line, which would use dedicated lanes along portions of Blue Hill Ave., a measure that, the MBTA claims, would greatly improve the service and reliability of the route.

Aloisi’s ride on the 28 comes after bouts of extensive criticism from the community.

Legislators representing Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury got an earful last Wednesday at Prince Hall in Grove Hall when they gathered to talk with citizens about public transit. Residents who spoke up made one thing clear: No project will receive community support until local concerns are addressed.

At the town hall-style forum, it was announced that the Executive Office of Transportation (EIOT) had sent out a roster of community residents for a possible rt. 28X advisory committee. “There is such a big difference when you talk to people who actually ride the T, who are waiting at the stops, and people in those community meetings,” Aloisi said.

The purpose of the forum was to gather community suggestions to submit to the EOT for Patrick’s Town Hall meeting on July 23 at the Shelburne Community Center in Roxbury. Discussion about the proposed 28X line dominated the forum, revealing a deep distrust of the T by some in the community.

The public officials heard Rita Dottin-Dixon angrily say, “Mattapan Station is a disgrace. … Don’t trust what they say. [The T] does what it wants and we are supposed to just say ‘thank you.’ ” Added Codman Square resident Chris Consalvos: “I don’t agree with how the T does business. … [It] comes up with the proposals before getting community input.”

At the forum, residents also voiced continuing concerns about traffic, noise, safety, fare hikes, and local jobs that may be influenced by the 28X plan and other projects across the community—concerns that apparently have gone unanswered by the agency.

Said City Councilor Chuck Turner, “What I gather is that the community is opposed to the new line until these questions are answered.”

At the meeting, the legislators announced another community forum for next Monday, but state Rep. Marie St. Fleur entered a qualification: “Maybe we should cancel the meeting for the 27th,” St. Fleur said. “On the day we set the meeting we need to have a thousand people from all along Blue Hill Ave. to show [the EOT] we mean business.”

The EOT plans 28X Project open houses next week for Monday, July 27 at the Mattapan Library and Wednesday, July 29 at the Grove Hall Community Center. Both events begin at 6 p.m.

More coverage from The Lit Drop: Menino makes own pitch for the 28x project on radio