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WTS- Boston December Luncheon Seminar

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Frank Monkiewicz Photography www.frankmonkiewicz.com

Written By:  Tricia Pinto, Sanborn Head

On December 14, 2017, MassDOT Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack spoke to an audience of over 300 WTS-Boston members and guests.  Secretary Pollack spoke enthusiastically about planning for our transportation system, and the importance of preparing plans that lead to action.  During the discussion, audience members learned about five kinds of planning that MassDOT is focused on.  These include operations planning, investment planning, implementation planning, modal planning and scenario planning.  Regarding operations planning, the Secretary focused on bus planning and the need to improve the bus service network, including the collection of bus service data and development of plans to improve each bus route.  By the end of 2018, the Secretary estimates that plans for each bus route will be complete.  This planning includes intensive data analysis and a large public input component.

In terms of capital planning and evaluating how best to invest in our transportation systems, the Secretary talked about the importance of investing in assets and providing reliability to riders.  According to the Secretary, we have come a long way in terms of understanding the quality of our transportation assets, and, have acknowledged the need to improve pavement and bridge conditions, and to improve the state of good repair backlog at the MBTA.  Development of an Integrated Fleet and Facilities Plan has been a key component of the MBTA’s strategic plan.

The Secretary expressed her desire for plans that lead to implementation.  For example, the Secretary talked about the South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan and the success of implementing an adaptive signal system in the seaport.  Another example is the Kendall Square model in Cambridge, which is a unique model for consolidating funds from developer investments to implement a wholistic approach to transportation improvements in Kendall Square.

MassDOT is also engaged in modal planning, which areis developing specific plans based on the mode of transportation, such as a Bicycle Plan, Water Plan or a Rail Plan.  The goal is to connect those that are preparing the plans with other agencies to create a more productive planning and implementation process.  Examples of this include recent Water Transportation Planning performed by the Water Transportation Advisory Committee, and Focus40, which is a 25-year strategic plan for how the MBTA can meet the needs of the region in 2040.  Lastly, the Secretary spoke with excitement about scenario planning, and the need to understand the drivers of change.  These might include urbanization, climate response, technology, and affordability, particularly housing affordability.

As an added bonus, audience members were also given a sneak preview of the WTS-Boston Public Art Project that is being planned for one of the headhouses at South Station.  The artist, Ellen Harvey, shared with our audience her vision for the art piece, which will celebrate the role of women in transportation.  It was very entertaining to hear Ellen’s vision, and the art project will surely be a lovely addition to our transportation system.

Thank you to the Secretary and Ellen Harvey for speaking with WTS-Boston.  It was a wonderful way to wrap up our year of WTS-Boston programs!

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Frank Monkiewicz Photography www.frankmonkiewicz.com

For more photos from the December luncheon please visit the WTS-Boston flickr page here.

 

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