Dear friends:

Thank you for reaching out about the many projects planned for the Red Line over the next few years. At the outset, I apologize for the length of my response, but I feel it is important to express my thoughts, concerns, and hopes for these projects.

Wollaston Station Plan

The Past – A Neglected Red Line

Since first extended to Quincy and Braintree over 40 years ago, the condition of much of the Red

Line’s infrastructure has steadily deteriorated. Stations and garages have been neglected, the Quincy Center garage has been closed, there is flooding at the Wollaston station, and that station is not accessible for people with disabilities. Because of outdated power sources and signalization, and due to the age of the Red Line cars, delays are a regular occurrence. Over the years, I have received many complaints regarding all of these conditions.

The Response – A Comprehensive, $900 million Plan

Work is now underway, and planned for, the entire Red Line. Winter resiliency upgrades continue along the whole line, work is underway to replace the entire fleet of Red Line cars, and signalization upgrades are ongoing, which will allow those new trains to operate at peak efficiency, increasing the number of trains running per hour from 13 to 20. Starting next Fall, the demolition of the long-closed garage at the Quincy Center station will begin, as will the reconstruction of the Wollaston station, accomplished with a 20 month closure of the station. Planning continues for the construction of a new garage at North Quincy, followed by mixed use development.

When the various projects are completed, after a total investment of over $900 million, the Red Line will be completely transformed in appearance and, more importantly, in the quality of service provided to riders.

Managing the Plan

The Quincy legislative delegation has been working with officials in Quincy and Braintree, carefully monitoring the various proposals, and expressing our concerns to the Governor, the Secretary of Transportation, and the MBTA about how to best manage these projects.

We have pushed for transparency and extensive public input, as follows:

  • We held early meetings at the Wollaston School. Citizen input at one of those meetings prompted the MBTA to redesign their original Wollaston station plan, resulting in a more functional and better looking station, as presented on January 14, 2016.

  • There have been informational meetings at the Quincy City Council, Braintree Town Hall, Central Middle School, Tobin Tower, and Lincoln Hancock Community School.

Additional Public Meeting

In addition to the above meetings that have already helped to shape the project, and in response to numerous calls and emails from residents who need more information and would like more opportunities to give their feedback, we have called on the MBTA to hold at least one more public meeting before major construction begins:

  • An additional public meeting will take place on June 21st, 6:30pm, at Central Middle School

  • We have also called for a continuous public feedback mechanism throughout the construction project, in the form of additional meetings with a citizens advisory council for the project.

As a result of the meetings and communication with commuters, we will focus on the following:

1) Platform situation at North Quincy

  • The MBTA has a management plan in the works, which includes greater numbers of T personnel assisting and coordinating matters on the platform.

  • We will recommend periodically running empty or express trains from Braintree to North Quincy, to take the pressure off the North Quincy platform.

  • We will work with the MBTA to improve commuter flow from turnstile to platform to train door.

  • We will request that the MBTA consider providing access to the commuter rail to Quincy Center commuters when necessary to lessen delays or crowding at North Quincy.

2) Traffic Congestion on Neponset Bridge

  • We have asked for, and the MBTA has committed to, funding a police traffic officer at Neponset Circle. Many may recall that during the reconstruction of the Neponset Bridge traffic flowed quite well when directed by the detail officer.

3) Parking

  • We have requested detailed updates on the MBTA’s parking mitigation plan, which to date has not been satisfactory.

4) Weather related matters

  • We will work to ensure that there are sufficient shuttle bus waiting areas and appropriate bus shelters at the Wollaston station.

  • We are requesting snow removal, rather than clearing, at the bus stops during storms.

  • We are calling for alternative route plans for weather-based and other emergencies.

5) Shuttle Buses

  • We have requested, have been assured, and will monitor to make sure that there will be a sufficient number of buses available for the shuttle service.

  • We are calling for alternative route development, in case of unforeseen traffic occurrences.

  • We are coordinating efforts between the MBTA and the Quincy’s traffic engineer to review traffic along Newport Avenue, West Squantum Street, Hancock Street, Woodbine Street, Greenwood Avenue and Beale Street, the route the shuttle buses will travel.

  • We have requested the MBTA to conduct trial runs of the proposed shuttle service so that we can have a real demonstration of the proposed service and get accurate evaluations of travel times and traffic impacts.

  • The MBTA will work with the City on roadway maintenance and ensure that traffic signals are working and appropriately timed along the shuttle bus route.

6) More frequent scheduling of existing local bus routes that serve the Newport Avenue/Hancock Street corridors

  • As the planning continues, we will keep working with the MBTA to ensure that all concerns are addressed.

The Decision to Close Wollaston Station

The closure of the Wollaston station has raised a lot of concerns, and has prompted many commuters to express their desire to have the station remain open during its reconstruction. I support the closing of the station for approximately 20 months for the following reasons:

  • I believe that twenty months of inconvenience is preferable to nearly four years of drawn out inconvenience.

  • We are working the MBTA to make the shuttle bus program as reliable, convenient and predictable as possible.

  • The MBTA has told us that if Wollaston station remains open, there would likely be daily unforeseen construction related issues, making the commute less predictable and reliable. For instance, walkways through the construction site, access to the station platform, and the amount of the platform available to commuters, would change almost daily.

  • The safety of the public regularly would be put at risk as construction progressed if construction proceeded while the station remained open.

  • I believe that the impacts of closing the station can be mitigated, with the measures that I presented above being put in place and with the MBTA having comprehensive contingency plans.

The Red Line’s Time is Now

Many communities have and will spend a generation advocating, without success, for the commuter upgrades that the Red Line is now scheduled to receive. Proponents of rail service to Springfield, the North-South Station Rail Link, the South Coast Rail, and the Blue Line extension to Lynn, just to mention a few projects, would gladly take the funding presently allocated for the Red Line projects detailed above. My goal is to help bring to Quincy and Braintree the Red Line that we deserve, on a feasible timeline and in a manner that controls costs to the taxpayer, while also being mindful and thorough in mitigating disruptions to our quality of life.

I thank all for the frequent and constructive input I’ve received about these projects. I look forward to continuing this dialogue with the residents of Quincy and Braintree, local officials, and with the Baker administration and MBTA officials. Working together, we will mitigate inconveniences and overcome obstacles, and when all the work is done, we will see a modern, reliable Red Line, able to efficiently carry commuters for many decades in the future. Its impact on our quality of life, the vibrancy of our neighborhoods, the values of our homes, and on our local economy, will be enormous.


John F. Keenan

Norfolk and Plymouth