Governor Deval Patrick will make good on his promise to use new state transportation funding to buy cars for the MBTA’s Red and Orange lines.
Patrick is expected to announce the launch of a $1.3 billion procurement for the new cars at a Tuesday morning meeting of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, in addition to disclosing that toll money will be used to straighten the Allston section of the Massachusetts Turnpike.
The Allston renovation will eliminate turns before and after the toll booths to alleviate traffic congestion.
The governor’s speech comes as state officials finalize details on a plan to spend the $800 million per year committed to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation by legislation in July. Patrick’s comments, to be delivered at the Westin Copley Place Boston Hotel, will be one of the first real indications of how long-term capital transportation in the state will look.
Patrick’s speech is expected to touch on many of the themes he espoused while stumping for his transportation finance proposal early this year: using technology and innovation to reform the state’s transit system, increasing the capacity for job and population growth, and providing equal access to good transportation for residents in different regions of the state.
‘We can’t do everything, but I certainly believe that Red Line and Orange Line cars are long overdue.’
Part of that process will include purchasing a new fleet of cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Red and Orange lines to replace aging equipment that has caused delays and required constant upkeep for years.
The decision to use the influx of state cash to buy the new cars is not exactly a surprise: In recent months, state Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey has said the new Red and Orange Line trains were at the top of the list of projects that deserved money from the transportation finance legislation.
The procurement process will identify replacements for the 74 Red Line cars built in 1969, which make up about one-third of the T’s Red Line stock, as well as all 120 of the cars on the Orange Line, which were built in 1981.
“They should have been sent to the transportation graveyard a decade or more ago,” Davey said Monday.
Because the money for the cars is coming from state, not federal coffers, Davey said, the Department of Transportation will require that the cars be assembled in Massachusetts, — a stipulation that will bring more jobs to the region.
Though the cars will not appear on the line for several years, state officials will soon begin the process of soliciting input on the design of the cars’ interiors.
“We want to make sure we do it right,” Davey said.
Marc Draisen — executive director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a local organization focused on municipal development — said he was pleased that the new subway cars would be a priority.
“The Red Line trains are way beyond their useful lives, and the Orange Line is only a little bit better,” Draisen said.
State lawmakers did not provide all the funds Patrick had sought for large-scale transportation projects.
But Draisen said the cars were a good bet because of their ability to promote job growth and new housing in up-and-coming neighborhoods served by the Red and Orange lines.
“We can’t do everything, but I certainly believe that Red Line and Orange Line cars are long overdue,” Draisen said.
Patrick’s planned speech will also provide a more precise timeline for introduction of all-electronic tolling.
The switch to an automated tolling system that eliminates the need for individual toll collectors will begin operating on the Tobin Memorial Bridge by the spring, a later timeline than floated some months ago.
Construction will begin this summer to convert the tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike to all-electronic.
In addition, Patrick will also announce that the Allston section of the Pike will undergo an overhaul that will straighten the roadway to allow commuters to more easily pass through the area.
“We expect that we will be able to significantly improve traffic in the neighborhood,” Davey said.
That construction project will open up 60 acres of new development in the Beacon Park Rail Yard area.
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