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Regional planning agency assesses revised 2024 Olympics bid

The region’s planning agency Tuesday released its analysis of the latest plans to bring the 2024 Olympics to Boston, echoing organizers’ call for a wealth of public transportation improvements.

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council said that mass transit improvements outlined in the revised bid, released Monday by Boston 2024, are crucial to regional growth whether or not the Games ultimately come to Boston.

With vast amounts of commercial and housing development slated within a half mile of Green and Red line stations, the Boston area “shouldn’t have to wait nine years for these essential improvements to be completed,” the group said.

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“We agree that these upgrades are essential to improve the frequency and reliability of the system for current users and future development,” the group said. “Frequent breakdowns and delays on these key transit lines – especially, but not exclusively, during the past winter – demonstrate that we can no longer put off modernization of these systems.”

While many of the transportation improvements cited by Boston 2024 are “appropriate candidates for full public funding,” others would provide more limited benefits, the group found.

“In these cases, a substantial private contribution is warranted,” it wrote.

The revised bid identified the reconfiguration of Kosciuszko Circle and improvements to the JFK/UMass Station as publicly funded projects, but the group concluded their impact would be far more localized than the broader modernization of the Red and Green lines.

“We see these as prime candidates for a public-private partnership in which the cost of infrastructure improvement is shared among the City of Boston, MassDOT, Boston 2024, and the master developer of the site,” the group said.

The assessment questioned plans for a new privately funded commuter rail station along Olympic Boulevard, just south of the West Fourth Street, saying its relationship to the rest of the MBTA system “merits greater scrutiny.”

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The redevelopment of Widett Circle into a mixed-use neighborhood could mark a “major step forward” in reaching housing production goals, the group found.

The group echoed previous calls for a walkable Olympics, and responded to the new plans by saying “So far, so good.”

Earlier this month, the group called on state lawmakers to create a planning commission with the authority to oversee Boston’s Olympic bid and coordinate the public review process.

“Overall, the Olympics should maximize private investment and minimize the use of public funds,” the group said in a report, which was also prepared by Transportation for Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance. “We recommend against the public sector making infrastructure or programmatic investments that do not advance a broader vision for a more connected, livable, and thriving region.”

The report also called on organizers to use some private funding for public infrastructure, such as pedestrian and biking improvements at JFK/UMass Station and nearby Kosciuszko Circle.


Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.