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Transportation Notes: Future MBTA Fare Hike?

By Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor
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File Image (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

File Image (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – A four-hour session Wednesday at the State Transportation Building shows that MassDOT is making real progress, but there is a lot more to do.

FUTURE MBTA FARE HIKE?

One is left with the impression that the MBTA will have to raise fares next year. They have little choice, because they have to keep subways, roads and rail lines in some sort of repair.

In the first week of every month, the MBTA Board meets first in an open meeting followed by Massachusetts Department of Transportation open meeting where reports are heard from the Highway Division, Registry of Motor Vehicles, the Aeronautics Division and Rail and Transit.

SINKING SOIL AROUND BIG DIG TUNNEL

The big news headline that drew most of the media’s attention concerned the ground settlement around South Station affecting the railroad tracks near the station causing a potential void beneath the I-90 connector tunnel base slab. Ongoing inspections have not shown any signs of excessive stress in this area of the Big Dig.

The soil settlement was first discussed at an MBTA Board meeting on February 3, 2010. The area settlement has the potential to affect eight tracks at South Station. The final settlement number and repair costs will not be known until the end of 2014.

REDUCTION OF NATIONAL FUNDS

Another item that caught my attention was a brief discussion about national transportation funds that could be reduced in the new Fiscal Year by 30 percent. That could mean that the state might receive $250 million less in federal funds.

The MBTA Board approved a $42,980,000 contract for signal replacement and upgrade of Columbia Junction in Dorchester.

CLEANING UP THE TOBIN

Then, there was the last item on the MassDOT agenda.  An approval of $42,397,298.60 was voted for the contract to clean and repaint the center third of the Tobin Bridge in Chelsea.

bobweiss Transportation Notes: Future MBTA Fare Hike?

Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor

The three-year contract calls for three lanes on each side of the bridge to be reduced to two lanes for a couple of years during the painting season. When completed, the job should last for between 15 and 20 years.

Starting this September, the most comprehensive employee training and education program will begin in all divisions of the  air, rail and road system. It is called MassDOT University with initial funding needs of over $1 million.

GOODBYE JEFF MULLAN

Around all of this activity was an official farewell to Secretary of Transportation Jeff Mullan, who hands over the reigns to Richard Davey, the current MBTA boss, on September 2.

Bob Weiss and “All Things Travel” can be heard weekends on WBZ.

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