Transit officials will apply for grant for Route 28 project

By 
Alex Owens, Special to the Reporter
Jul. 2, 2009

The state’s Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) held a meeting at the Mildred Ave. Community Center in Mattapan on Tuesday regarding the MBTA service developments in Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester, most notably the proposed 28X express bus line.

The 28X development was initially set to be funded by $117 million in stimulus money. However, in response to wavering community sentiment the EOT and MBTA have told residents on Tuesday that the state will forego a previous plan to tap into a guaranteed federal stimulus package, which required that plans be finalized by July. Instead, the Patrick administration will apply for transit oriented grants from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“We are not at a consensus. We are not at a point where ready to tell the federal government that we are going to go through with [the 28X plan,]” said EOT Deputy Director Clinton Bench regarding the dissent expressed by community members in past meetings.

The EOT remains confident that, if accepted by the community, the 28X project will have a strong showing against grant competitors. While applying for a grant does hold some risk of being rejected, the application process would allow for more time for consulting with the community, and as EOT officials noted, more room for adaptability to varying costs.

“It might cost $117 million. It could end up at $120 million or $125 million. With this we have some flexibility,” said Bench.

Simmons and head Transportation Secretary James Aloisi squared off against a sometimes-prickly assembly of more than 50 residents, as well as five elected officials. Some expressed dissatisfaction with the T’s previous lackluster efforts, particularly with the recently renovated Mattapan Square station, which some feel do not live up to the needs of the community.

«There is a long standing failure on the part of the T to provide amenities and services,” related Aloisi. “We’ll fix it or I’m going to start firing people,” Aloisi said in response to the Mattapan Station complaints.

Many raised issues of safety, public health, and local job recruiting within the 28X project. Still others, including Councillor Charles Yancey, called for an exploration of light rail instead of articulated buses down the center of Blue Hill. Ave.

“If the 28X was a precursor to light rail then, maybe...” said Bob Terrell, of Roxbury. “The community should get what it deserves not what someone else decides that it needs.”
Not all were as skeptical to the ideas pre
sented however.

“As long as they keep the local line, I think it’s a good idea. We need the local line,” said Robert Hector, a member of the Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition.