Governor Healey and Lt. Governor Driscoll took office on January 5th to start their four year term leading Massachusetts state government. During her inaugural address, Governor Healey discussed many of her early priorities, which include a number of ideas presented in A Better City’s State Government Transition Report. Over the past few months, the A Better City team has engaged with Governor Healey’s team to present research, analysis, and possible solutions on the challenges facing statewide transportation policies, climate resiliency and decarbonization goals, clean energy strategies, and land use plans. It is very encouraging to see Governor Healey announce specific commitments that are consistent with many of A Better City’s suggestions, including promises to create a Safety Chief for the MBTA, an Interagency Task Force designed to win federal infrastructure grants, and a Green Bank that can support new resiliency infrastructure efforts. You can read the full text of Governor Healey’s inaugural address here and A Better City’s transition report here. A Better City looks forward to learning more in the weeks and months . . .
On December 13th, 2022, A Better City hosted a kickoff meeting for our Extreme Heat Working Group, which is intended to operate as an informal coalition of A Better City member organization representatives working together to develop extreme heat policy principles, to explore pilot projects, and to support community-based heat solutions that build upon the work of community leaders and the City of Boston’s Heat Plan and Urban Forest Plan. The December 2022 kickoff meeting built upon the Engaging Businesses in Extreme Heat Solutions event co-hosted by A Better City and Green Ribbon Commission in September 2022.
During our December 2022 kickoff meeting, A Better City provided an overview of heat resilience work in Boston, and members were asked questions like: 1) What have you or your . . .
A Better City recently submitted comments on the City of Boston's Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO 2.0) Phase 2B draft regulations and policies that relate to emissions factors, renewable energy purchases, and other clarifying regulations. The Air Pollution Control Commission will be holding a public hearing on January 25, 2023, at 1 PM, with the first agenda item being a discussion and vote on the proposed BERDO 2.0 Phase 2B draft revisions to the regulations. This meeting will be virtual and can be joined by
On December 14, 2022, A Better City welcomed Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver to provide an update on the ongoing Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project and impending full closure in Spring 2023. He was accompanied by John McInerney, District 6 Highway Director, which covers Boston, who oversees the Restoration Project.
The Sumner Tunnel is a major transportation route for the region. It is key link from East Boston and Logan Airport and carries 40,000 vehicles a day (pre-pandemic). During the last triennial inspection of the Central Artery System in 2018, MassDOT determined that the structural integrity of the tunnel was at risk with visual evidence that key infrastructure elements (as indicated by spalled concrete, corroded rebar, and rusted support beams) were reaching to end of their useful life. Restoration of the tunnel was subsequently identified as a top priority.
The A Better City team is incredibly proud of the progress made in the second half of 2022. Please see the top ten accomplishments for July through December 2022 below and a more fulsome overview here.
In 2022, building policies have been front and center of municipal, state and federal climate policy. The last quarter of 2022 has been no different, seeing activity at all three levels of government. Below is a summary of activity in building policies that A Better City is tracking.
Passed in October 2021, Boston’s amended Building Emissions and Disclosure Ordinance for existing buildings is known as BERDO 2.0. Throughout 2022, A Better City has engaged members, partners, and the City of Boston’s BERDO team as the regulations for BERDO 2.0 have been drafted, commented on, and approved by the Air Pollution Control Commission (APCC). A previous blogpost provides a summary of the amended Ordinance.
Regulations for BERDO 2.0 are being carried out in phases:
On December 12th, after years of advocacy led by A Better City and others, MassDOT formally identified the Modified All At-Grade Alternative as the so-called preferred alternative, selecting it as the design to advance through the environmental review process. In terms of next steps, MassDOT intends to formally submit the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Report (SDEIR) to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office in 2023. In parallel, MassDOT will advance the preferred alternative through MEPA’s federal counterpart. Read the MassDOT press release here.
The Modified All At-Grade Alternative enjoys the overwhelming support of a wide variety of stakeholders, public officials, and members of the Task Force that was established to advise MassDOT on the project. Building the project at-grade will support better connection between the neighborhood and the Charles River. This alternative is easier, faster, and less expensive to build and maintain than other alternatives. It also includes environmental improvements along the Boston bank of the Charles River, enhancing public access to the edge of the river within the project area.
A Better City submitted extensive comments on the content of the Notice of Project Change (NPC), seeking to include preference for the All At-Grade Alternative, to include reference to the People’s Pike “shared use path” and Agganis Way connection to the riverfront for potential incorporation in the preferred alternative, and to advocate for a longer public comment period—MassDOT ultimately incorporated these items into the environmental report. Additionally, upon review of the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs MEPA Certificate in September, A Better City . . .
"The MBTA’s purchase of 24 acres at Widett Circle is a significant step in the right direction to setting aside the necessary transportation assets to support the operation and maintenance of our commuter rail system," said Rick Dimino, A Better City President & CEO. "At the same time, this action supports the expansion of South Station and the advancement of regional rail. This is a significant investment and outcome, which advances our current and future commuter . . .
In July and August 2022, A Better City received robust comments from members about the proposed update to the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code and the development of the Municipal Opt-In Specialized Stretch Energy Code, released on June 24th. The resulting A Better City comments were sent to DOER by August 12th and posted on A Better City’s blog in September.
DOER set up a technical advisory committee who met throughout the summer of 2022 to review all the comments received in August, along with technical code language. Based on the committee’s technical review and comments, DOER released final code language for the Stretch Energy Code and Specialized Municipal Opt-in Code on September 23rd as follows:
On November 2nd, DOER held a webinar to provide an overview of the updates to the Stretch Energy Code and New . . .