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2017 New Years Reception Recap

2017_NY_Reception_photo

WTS-Boston Kicks Off 2017

By Alexandra Kleyman, AICP

Boston Region MPO

 

Downtown Boston served as a festive backdrop to the Chapter’s 2017 New Year’s Reception, held on February 1st at the Courtyard Marriott on Tremont Street. The event provided a chance for public officials, members, and sponsors to reconnect after a hectic holiday season. The reception was also the first official event to be overseen by the chapter’s new President, Rebecca (Becky) Williamson, P.E. of GPI! Becky opened the program by welcoming members and sponsors and thanking them for their continued dedication to making the Boston chapter what it is - one of the largest and most active chapters in the country.

In addition to being the first networking event of the New Year, the reception always features a guest speaker to highlight current transportation topics of interest to members. This year, Kate Fichter, Assistant Secretary for Policy Coordination at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), was the guest speaker. Kate’s insights touched on the vital importance of organizations like WTS which serves as a venue for people from all different backgrounds to come together to collaborate on issues they care about as well as to build community.

At MassDOT, Kate works to carry out the Secretary Pollack’s vision of creating a transportation system that connects people to opportunity while also making it possible to choose to live either without a car or with greatly reduced driving (i.e. “car light”). In her current role, Kate is responsible for overseeing multiple policy initiatives, and ensuring that MassDOT policy priorities are implemented through investments and projects. She highlighted a number of ways that MassDOT is currently working throughout the Commonwealth to accomplish its vision and priorities.   

  • Complete Streets Funding Program- this program offers communities opportunities for technical assistance, training, and funding for the implementation of complete streets projects. So far, over 100 communities have been trained in complete streets prioritization and planning and 26 projects have been funded.
  • Healthy Transportation Design Directive- this directive has been a key in developing transportation projects that fully accommodate all roadway users. However, every useful program can benefit from an update, and MassDOT is in the process of ensuring that this directive is thoroughly context sensitive so that it not only aids communities in designing healthy projects, but also encourages them to advance projects that integrate well into their existing transportation network.
  • Automation- following Governor Baker’s Executive Order on automated vehicle (AV) technology, an Automated Vehicle Work Group is being convened to continue to articulate the Commonwealth’s approach to the technology. Along these lines, MassDOT is working with municipalities to identify places around the Commonwealth to test AVs.

Kate is a graduate of the University of Chicago and MIT, and has professional expertise in transportation planning and policy. She has worked in various capacities at MassDOT since 2004 and prior to her current role, she served as the Project Manager for the extension of the MBTA Green Line to Somerville and Medford (2007-2010) and the expansion of Boston South Station (2012-2014).   Kate has also worked for the US Department of Transportation at the Volpe Center, and for the Massachusetts Legislature, where she worked on transportation-related issues.

Also in attendance were several members of the Transportation Departments of the cities of Boston and Cambridge, the MBTA, and Massport. If the New Year’s Reception is any indication, 2017 promises to be another year of strong leadership, prosperous networking, and motivating mentorship for all involved in WTS-Boston.

To see more photos from the event please visit the WTS-Boston Flickr page here.

 

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