State applies for stimulus money for 28X as hearings continue

By 
Alex Owens, Special to the Reporter
Aug. 13, 2009

The Executive Office of Transportation held another meeting last Thursday concerning the controversial 28X line, this time with a newly organized advisory group of concerned community leaders and activists from neighborhoods along the 28 bus route. The meeting, at the recently opened Grove Hall Branch library, was the first of a series of focused advisory group meetings planned for this month.

If it goes into action, the 28X plan would be funded by a transit-oriented federal stimulus package, which the EOT must apply for by Sept. 15. As it stands, the EOT will go ahead with the application process.

“We’re just taking the temperature, and we don’t get the sense that the majority of people are opposed to [28X,] said EOT planner Scott Hemway. “The problem with putting the decision to a vote is that you may never get representation from everybody, and we only have a limited amount of time to submit the application.”

The 28X proposal has stirred considerable debate since it was announced in June. If completed, the new line will run in dedicated bus lanes located down the center of much of Blue Hill Ave. The amount of construction, its effect on local businesses, and the possible removal of some parking spots along the route have been hot topics throughout the discussion.

At Thursday’s meeting, members of the advisory board also brought up concerns about conflicts with school buses, the so called “bottleneck” intersection between Warren St. and Blue Hill Ave. and the effects on other bus lines traveling along the same corridor as the 28.

We’re talking about the 28X here, but now we’ve included riders from the 23, the 19, the 25…” said advisory group member Barbara Crichlow. “We need to reach out to those people.”

Nevertheless, some at the meeting expressed were optimistic about the future of the advisory group. “As long as we are able to have input ,it’s a good meeting.,” said Dan Richmond. “We want to make this situation as ideal as possible. We don’t want F’s or F pluses but B’s and C’s at the least.”

Added Walter Apperwhite, “The project is a massive, massive undertaking and we’ve had a good conversation…[28X] is the next generation and we just have to go through the labor pains while it’s being born.”

Another meeting is planned for next Wednesday, Aug. 19, at the Central Boston Elder Services in Roxbury. The EOT also hopes to hold a larger community meeting by the end of the month.