On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, A Better City hosted a half-day event called Plazas, Parklets, and Pop-Ups in the Public Realm. Fifty people attended the event despite the snow and school closures.
To kick-off the event there was a panel presentation on recently completed tactical placemaking projects, including Downtown Boston plaza projects, Birch Street Plaza in Roslindale, Gove Street Crossing on the East Boston Greenway, Green Street Parklet in JP, pavement murals in and around Boston, and Mathscapes in Cambridge.
Following the panel, there were breakout groups where here participants connected directly with professionals who've recently implemented projects to ask questions.
Finally, the keynote speaker, Mike Lydon with Street Plans in NYC, presented on “7 lessons for how Boston can Continue to Build Great Streets By Everyone, For Everyone.” Mike Lydon highlighted projects across the county that showed how pilots, pop-ups, and demonstration projects help to test ideas, gain support, and to lay the groundwork for future long-term projects.
BOSTON, MA (November 7, 2019) – With communities around Massachusetts reaching a crisis point around transportation, A Better City today released a transportation finance plan calling for a minimum of $50 billion in new investment over the next two decades to create the efficient, safe, and reliable system people and businesses deserve. The plan also provides an actionable path forward for generating this revenue from transportation sources of funding.
Funding Transportation Solutions: A Comprehensive Transportation Finance Plan serves as an answer to A Better City’s report from February 2019, An Update on Transportation Finance, which identified a projected multi-billion-dollar transportation funding gap over the next ten years just to properly maintain existing transportation infrastructure at the MassDOT Highway Division and the MBTA. The new report lays out a pathway to fill this gap as well as expand and make resilient Massachusetts’ full transportation system.
“From overhauling the commuter rail to electrifying bus networks to upgrading the safety and resilience of roads and bridges, the solutions to our current transportation crisis are complex but absolutely achievable,” said A Better City President & CEO Richard A. Dimino. “We’re grateful to legislative leadership for creating an environment that puts ideas on the table and supports ambition. Now is the time for all of us to come together around a plan that will benefit people in every city and town in the Commonwealth.”
While A Better City’s plan supports statewide improvements, the $50 billion investment is in line with other recent transportation initiatives undertaken by U.S. cities, including Seattle, which passed a $54 billion . . .
On August 8, 2019, A Better City (ABC) invited representatives from the City of Boston and the Boston Planning and Development Agency to give an overview of Climate Ready Boston Downtown & North End to ABC, Sustainable Buildings Initiative and Greenway BID members. Climate Ready Boston has been working through neighborhoods most vulnerable to climate risks to understand flood pathways and develop both short- and long-term solutions.
The Downtown and North End neighborhoods have been divided into three sub-districts for planning purposes: Downtown and Wharf District (a current flood entry point); North End Waterfront; & North End-West End (a current flood entry point). These areas have varied ownership, including private, city, state, and federal; a variety of subsurface conditions, including highway tunnels and exits, and MBTA tracks and a station; and a vast difference in bulkhead conditions. For each of the three sub-districts, two options are being considered:
Given differences in ownership, use, and the requirements to coordinate with other city and state agencies across different sub-districts, there was a lot of discussion around how to customize intervention strategies for a range of needs. Members encouraged Climate Ready Boston to promote strategies that would facilitate collaboration across . . .
BOSTON, MA (August 7, 2019) – Today, A Better City hosted “Powering the Future: Electrifying and Expanding the MBTA Bus System,” a roundtable event that brought together experts who have begun the important task of identifying the challenges and opportunities of moving toward an electric bus fleet and the need for a new major MBTA bus maintenance facility modernization program.
The event highlighted a newly released A Better City report entitled “New MBTA Bus Maintenance Facilities & Evolving Battery Electric Bus Technology: The Potential for Mixed-use, Public-Private Development.” The study showcases the potential for public-private real estate developments to defray costs associated with construction of new MBTA bus maintenance facilities as part of a broader goal of increasing access to MBTA bus transit, which today features approximately 1,000 buses that serve more than 400,000 riders on weekdays.
“Understanding the opportunities and challenges associated with advancing MBTA bus service in the 21st century is critical given its importance as a transit mode that benefits hundreds of thousands of residents and workers in Massachusetts,” said Richard A. Dimino, President and CEO of A Better City. “Today’s event and release of our newest report on MBTA bus maintenance facilities underscores the importance of elevating bus service in the Commonwealth in the years ahead.”
The new report, which was funded by the Barr Foundation, sheds light on a key transportation infrastructure issue of significance. The report highlights the MBTA’s pressing need for new or updated bus maintenance facilities as set forth in the MBTA Integrated Fleet and Facilities Plan. Currently, more than $875 million in funding is needed to modernize the MBTA’s nine bus maintenance garages, which are, on average, approximately 50 years old. Modernization and expansion of . . .
The MBTA Red Line derailment was a tipping point in the longstanding discussion about addressing our transportation needs. We need dramatic interventions to create a 21st-century transportation system that supports our economy and high quality of life. Recent polling shows we risk losing talent to other states due to people’s frustrations about their commutes.
Many business organizations, including A Better City, believe that any real solution to our transportation woes must not only involve reforms and accountability legislation, but also new revenue. The question becomes: how to do it?
Both the Massachusetts Senate and the House have indicated they will consider legislation that includes new revenue for transportation. While there are different approaches to solving our transportation crisis, the top priority is action. Legislation needs to pass this session to move the commonwealth forward. As the business community considers solutions, a revenue package must adhere to a set of fundamental principles:
After a very productive first six months of the year, A Better City is excited to share their first round of accomplishments for the 2019 year. Read the comprehensive accomplishments report spanning from January 2019 to June 2019 here.
1. Released State of the Built Environment Report: ABC finalized and released the second edition of the State of the Built Environment report in consultation with consultants from the UMass Donahue Institute in February 2019. This report provides a quantitative update of the Transportation Finance Commission reports from 2007 and assesses the funding needs for the Commonwealth's transportation infrastructure system, the current funding available in MassDOT and MBTA budget plans, and what is necessary over the next ten years to meet the needs of our transportation system.
2. Secured At-Grade Preferred Alternative for the Allston Interchange: ABC has continued to advocate for elimination of the Turnpike viaduct in the narrow transportation corridor along the Charles River that includes the Turnpike, the Worcester Commuter Rail mainline, Grand Junction rail service, Soldiers Field Road, and the Paul Dudley White path in open space along the river bank. In January 2019, in a major victory for ABC, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack announced that the Turnpike should be located at grade with four lanes of Soldiers Field Road elevated over one half of I-90.
3. Advocated for the South Boston Bypass Road Pilot: ABC organized a letter writing and public comment campaign to support the South Boston Bypass Road pilot program and ask that MassDOT keep this program going past September 2019. The current pilot program is underway and MassDOT is monitoring the use of this road, which is open public traffic through September. Thus far, the pilot has mediated some traffic congestion in the Seaport area, however increased awareness of the access . . .
Kate Dineen, Executive Vice President, A Better City
June 18, 2019
On behalf of Rick Dimino, President & CEO of A Better City and the 131-member ABC Board, I thank you for the opportunity to testify on S10. I am Kate Dineen, Executive Vice President of ABC. Prior to joining ABC in May 2019, I served in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office for nearly six years—first as the Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, then as the Governor’s Assistant Secretary for the Environment, and most recently as Chief of Staff for State Operations. In these various roles, I garnered significant expertise in climate resilience as the state endeavored to build back better in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Since its inception in 1989, A Better City has fought to enhance the Boston region’s economic competitiveness, growth, and livability by developing solutions in three critical areas: transportation, land use, and energy and the environment. Since 2006, ABC has been working with member buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the last five years, ABC has also been helping members plan for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. ABC chairs the Green Ribbon Commission’s Commercial Real Estate Working Group and has participated in the last two Climate Action Plan updates for the City of Boston.
On behalf of ABC, I thank Governor Baker and Secretary Theoharides for their leadership on both climate mitigation and adaptation policies—their bold vision has positioned Massachusetts as an undisputed national leader. I applaud S10 as an acknowledgement of the dire need to raise new revenue for climate resilience, especially for the critical infrastructure that must be built to protect our communities and economic hubs from the impacts of sea level rise, storm surge, and increased precipitation.
However, after surveying our membership, which represents a . . .
Kate Dineen, Executive Vice President, A Better City
June 18, 2019
On behalf of Rick Dimino, President & CEO of A Better City and the 131-member ABC Board, I thank you for the opportunity to testify on GreenWorks. I’m Kate Dineen, Executive Vice President of ABC. Prior to joining ABC in May 2019, I served in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office for nearly six years—first as the Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, then as the Governor’s Assistant Secretary for the Environment, and most recently as Chief of Staff for State Operations. In these various roles, I garnered significant expertise in climate resilience as the state endeavored to build back better in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Since its inception in 1989, A Better City has fought to enhance the Boston region’s economic competitiveness, growth, and livability by developing solutions in three critical areas: transportation, land use, and energy and the environment. Since 2006, ABC has been working with member buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the last five years, ABC has also been helping members plan for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. ABC leads the Green Ribbon Commission’s Commercial Real Estate Working Group and has participated in the last two Climate Action Plan updates for the City of Boston.
On behalf of ABC, I thank Speaker DeLeo and Representative Golden for proposing a legislative package that supports an array of vital initiatives to help the Commonwealth pursue both mitigation and adaptation strategies in parallel. Developing municipal microgrids, electrifying municipal and regional transit authority fleets, establishing municipal sustainability coordinators, and providing funds for municipal resilience projects are all critical steps toward realizing a greener, more resilient future. We appreciate the articulation of a wide range of climate issues as . . .
A Better City's Director of Transportation, Kathryn Carlson testified in front of the MBTA Board to discuss safety concerns surrounding recent derailments. Here is the transcript from her testimony:
Joint MassDOT and FMCB Board Meeting, June 17, 2019
Comments by Kathryn Carlson, Director of Transportation, A Better City
Safety Issues and State of Good Repair
Thank you Secretary Pollack, Chairman Aiello and all board members for hearing our comments today.
I am Kathryn Carlson, Director of Transportation at A Better City, and I am here today on behalf of our 130-member businesses and institutions.
Obviously there is concern among all – commuters, business leaders and citizens across the region – regarding the recent MBTA train derailments.
We feel that this is indicative of the slow state of State of Good Repair updates and are calling on you to conduct an independent safety audit of the entire system.
1) It is imperative for confidence in the system that this audit is conducted by an independent entity and the results communicated in a transparent and timely manner not only to the board but also to the business community, commuters and citizens of the region alike.
We acknowledge that LTK is a highly respected and reputable national firm and has done great work for the MBTA and with us at A Better City. Our issue is NOT with LTK being selected by the MBTA GM to conduct this safety review. Rather, given these recent derailments and the public's heightened and reasonable concerns with system safety, A Better City thinks this safety review should be done independent of the MBTA.
2) We ask you to consider deferring the fare increase until such time that safety issues are well-addressed.
3) These are immediate actions but need to work in concert with a renewed push for removing the State of Good Repair backlog on the system, . . .
Recent derailments of the MBTA Red and Green Lines are reigniting the focus on our transportation infrastructure and the financial resources dedicated to supporting it. President & CEO, Rick Dimino released a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to these unacceptable events.
"When our transportation system doesn't function, Boston and the region don't function. Recent derailments and the ensuing disruption are a stark reminder of the importance of transportation to our economy and quality of life. They are also a symptom of a larger problem reaching crisis proportions: decades of neglect and under-investment impacting our whole transportation system — including not just the MBTA but also our roads, bridges, and regional transit. The business community, riders, public officials, and other stakeholders must come together this year to find real solutions, including new revenue, to bring forth the modern, comfortable, and convenient system Massachusetts residents deserve and are demanding."
A Better City will continue focusing on the development of a comprehensive transportation finance plan. We seek a plan before the end of 2019 that can generate funding to address our State of Good Repair needs and also support the capacity improvements for our expanding economy requires.
We look forward to working with all of you on this important issue and are interested in hearing your . . .