T Expanding Shuttle Service During Wollaston Closure

City and state officials gathered at Wollaston station Thursday to discuss the station's upcoming closure, now set to start Jan. 8. From left: Councillor Nina Liang, Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, MBTA GM Luis Ramirez, Mayor Thomas Koch, Sen. John Keenan, Ward 1 Councillor-elect David McCarthy and Rep. Bruce Ayers. Quincy Sun Photo/Scott Jackson

City and state officials recently gathered at Wollaston station to discuss the station’s upcoming closure, now set to start Jan. 8. From left: Councillor Nina Liang, Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, MBTA GM Luis Ramirez, Mayor Thomas Koch, Sen. John Keenan, Ward 1 Councillor-elect David McCarthy and Rep. Bruce Ayers. Quincy Sun Photo/Scott Jackson

By SCOTT JACKSON

The MBTA will provide shuttle bus service to Quincy Center as well as North Quincy while the station in Wollaston is closed, and passengers will be able to board the commuter rail at Quincy Center during rush hour at a discounted price throughout the 20-month period.

The date for the station closure has also been pushed back a week to Monday, Jan. 8, to avoid any conflict with New Year’s Day – the station had been set to close Jan. 2.

State transportation officials joined city and state elected leaders to make the announcement Thursday outside the station, where initial construction work has already begun.

The T had originally announced only shuttle service between Wollaston and North Quincy the former station closed for renovations. Luis Ramirez, the MBTA’s general manager, said the decision to expand the shuttle service to Quincy Center as well was made to help ensure the North Quincy platform does not become too crowded.

“With our ongoing issues of platform crowding at North Quincy, we want to make sure we were minimizing the inconvenience to our customers that best we can,” Ramirez said. “To that end, we wanted to divert our Wollaston customers to both stations to alleviate any additional crowding.”

Riders utilizing the shuttle service should plan on adding 15 to 20 minutes to their commute, he added.

In an additional step to preventing crowding at North Quincy, Ramirez said customers at Quincy Center can take the commuter rail – either inbound trains to Boston or outbound trains headed south – during rush hour for the same fare as a Red Line ride provided they show a valid CharlieCard or CharlieTicket while boarding.

Stephanie Pollack, the state’s transportation secretary, said the decision to postpone the closure one week was based on feedback from residents who were wary of shutting down the station so close to New Year’s Day and Christmas.

“We heard loud and clear that starting right after the holiday week was a bad idea in terms of making sure that people would be aware, in terms of our ability to get the word out the weeks before the closure, and in terms of our ability to test the shuttle routes in real traffic conditions,” Pollack said.

The T will close the station for 20 months to rebuild the platform on site from the tracks up. The closure is meant to bring the station, which first opened in 1971, into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Wollaston station is currently the only station not in compliance with the ADA.

The closure has been controversial in Quincy, where residents at several community meetings have voiced their displeasure with the plan. Pollack defended the decision to close the station entirely during renovations, because it will allow the T to complete the project in less time. The project could take five years or more to complete had the station remained open during renovations, she said.

“It will be less disruptive to our passengers to have the shorter closure than the longer, dragged-out construction project that would be required if we tried to run the trains while we rebuilt the station,” Pollack said.

Trains will continue to pass through the Wollaston station while it is closed but won’t stop there. On select nights and weekends, however, the entire Braintree branch of the Red Line will be closed south of North Quincy while the T rebuilds the Wollaston station and begins demolition of the Quincy Center station’s garage starting in early 2018. Shuttle service will run between Braintree and North Quincy during those periods.

Parking at Wollaston station will be reduced from 538 spaces to 432 during the project.

The station will re-open in the summer of 2019, though construction work will remain after that point. Sen. John Keenan said commuters would have not only a new station, but also new Red Line cars and new signals that will allow for shorter headways between trains.

“When all is said and done, when we get through what we have to get through over the next 20 months, we’re going to have a state-of-the-art Wollaston MBTA station,” Keenan said. “Through it will be not the trains that were running 40 years ago when I was selling newspapers at the bottom of the stairwell here, but a brand new fleet of Red Line trains and those Red Line trains will be guided by a modern, updated signalization program.

“All of that together will increase ridership, increase reliability, and give the commuters of this community and commuters all along the Red Line a first-class, reliable, efficient public transportation system.”

Mayor Thomas Koch credited Gov. Charlie Baker for investing in the Red Line. The Red Line will receive a total of $911 million worth of upgrades over the next several years including the new cars and signals, the Wollaston station renovation, demolition of the Quincy Center garage and work at the Quincy Adams and Braintree stations.

“The Red Line had been ignored for a long, long time,” Koch said. “I used to get into heated discussions with some of my colleagues – mayors around Metropolitan Boston – when they were talking expansion and I was saying ‘we shouldn’t expand anything until we get what we have fixed.’ I appreciate Governor Baker’s commitment and the Legislature’s support – we’re looking at a billion dollars worth of improvements to the Red Line.

“Within a couple years we’re going to have essentially a brand-new Red Line for the residents of the city and the people who use this service.”

A $205 million mixed-use project is also set to begin next year at the North Quincy station’s parking lot. A garage with space for 852 vehicles – equivalent to the number of parking spaces currently on site – will be built in the project’s first phase, followed by 610 apartments and 50,000 square feet of retail space that will envelope the new garage in the second phase.

Keenan said city and state officials are still working on plans to mitigate the impact of the North Quincy project.

“The MBTA continues and the Department of Transportation and the city continue to look at how to best manage that parking situation. There are many options under construction that are all being tested and considered,” Keenan said.

“We expect and we’re going to continue our work to make sure those parking impacts at North Quincy are mitigated.”

To help mitigate the impact, several local elected officials had suggested the T run shuttle bus service directly between Wollaston and JFK/UMass. Keenan said the T had looked into the idea but ruled it out because of traffic on the Neponset Bridge.

“As part of the mitigation package there will be a detail officer assigned to Neponset Circle to help with traffic, but even with that there are substantial delays in getting over the Neponset Bridge,” he said.

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Study: Young Millennials Top List Of Worst Behaved Drivers

A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 88 percent of young millennials engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days, earning the top spot of worst behaved U.S. drivers.

These dangerous behaviors ― which increase crash risk ― included texting while driving, red-light running and speeding. These findings come as U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, an increase of more than 7 percent, the largest single-year increase in five decades.

“Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs. “It’s critical that these drivers understand the potentially deadly consequences of engaging in these types of behaviors and that they change their behavior and attitudes in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads.”

By rank and by age group, the percentage of drivers who reported engaging in speeding, red light running or texting behind the wheel in the past 30 days include:

  1. Drivers ages 19-24: 88.4 percent
  2. Drivers ages 25-39: 79.2 percent
  3. Drivers ages 40-59: 75.2 percent
  4. Drivers ages 16-18: 69.3 percent
  5. Drivers ages 75+:    69.1 percent
  6. Drivers ages 60-74: 67.3 percent

Texting While Driving

  • Drivers ages 19-24 were 1.6 times as likely as all drivers to report having read a text message or e-mail while driving in the last 30 days (66.1 percent vs. 40.2 percent).
  • Drivers ages 19-24 were nearly twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving (59.3 percent vs. 31.4 percent).

Speeding

  • Drivers ages 19-24 were 1.4 times as likely as all drivers to report having driven 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street.
  • Nearly 12 percent of drivers ages 19-24 reported feeling that it is acceptable to drive 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone, compared to less than 5 percent of all drivers. 

Red- Light Running

  • Nearly 50 percent of drivers ages 19-24 reported driving through a light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely, compared to 36 percent of all drivers.
  • Nearly 14 percent of drivers ages 19-24 reported feeling that it is acceptable to drive through a light that just turned red, when they could have stopped safely, compared to about 6 percent of all drivers.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,511 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

 

AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 61 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.

 
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DA Morrissey, MIAA Remove Barrier For Athletes To Get Help

Norfolk DA Michael Morrissey has worked with the MIAA to eliminate a substantial barrier between high school athletes who are struggling with substance use and the help they need.

“We know from our investigations of overdose deaths in Norfolk County that many of those dying today got hooked on opiate pain pills years earlier – often following high school sports injuries,” District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said. “Until now, a student would face suspension from any team they were on if they came forward to ask for help.”

As part of his work with local high schools to screen high school students for possible problems with opiates, District Attorney Morrissey petitioned the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association to change its substance abuse rules in May of 2014. The change has now taken effect, and Page 61 now reads: “Prior to any chemical health violation a student’s request for and enrollment in a substance abuse treatment shall not in and of itself constitute a violation of the chemical health/alcohol/drugs/tobacco Rule 62.”

Morrissey also provided Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) training to 80 school nurses, athletic trainers and athletic directors from across the county at a December 16, 2015 seminar in Canton. That event gained publicity because it also included training on the administration of the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

“It is important as a state, and as individual communities, that we concentrate not only on the crime and death associated with full blown addiction, but also that we put thinking and resources into preventing addictions from taking root,” DA Morrissey said. “This change to the MIAA’s rules erases another barrier between young people and getting help.”

See also:

http://www.mass.gov/da/norfolk/Press_Releases/12-16-15_School%20nurses%20train%20in%20opiate%20screening%20and%20overdose%20reversal.pdf

And, at P. 61:

http://www.miaa.net/gen/miaa_generated_bin/documents/basic_module/MIAAHandbook1517.pdf

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Quincy College Students Ranked First As Top Salary Earners For 2-Year Public Colleges

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s innovative tool, the College Scorecard, Quincy College students are ranked #1 as Top Salary Earners in Massachusetts and  New England across two-year public colleges.  The College Scorecard is a free resource that provides information for families and students to make educated decisions in the college search process.

The U.S. Department of Education’s data reviewed the outcomes of students across the nation, who received federal financial aid, and revealed that Quincy College students are top earners ahead of all 2-year public colleges in Massachusetts. This includes colleges within the Massachusetts state-supported public community college system. In addition to being ranked first in the Commonwealth, Quincy College students also ranked #1 in the region as Top Salary Earners in all of New England across two-year public colleges. Quincy College students rank #5 in Massachusetts and #9 in New England for top earners among all 2-year public and private colleges.

Quincy College, Massachusetts’ only municipally-affiliated public college, was additionally mentioned in the U.S. Department of Education’s October 30, 2015 blog post which listed by state the top two-year public colleges across the U.S. at which earnings exceed those of the typical two-year college.

“Besides traditional majors, Quincy College provides a rigorous and relevant post-secondary education to prepare students for careers in high growth allied health and STEM fields. In addition, through strong relationships with both students and industry partners, the College’s faculty serve as an important bridge to real jobs that pay family sustaining wages. The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard reflects the high value of a Quincy College education not only for our current students and alumni but for future students as well,” said Aundrea Kelley, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Quincy College.

The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard is a new initiative by the White House to help students and their families make more educated decisions about college. Using the College Scorecard, students and their families can look up the cost and assess the value of colleges.  Each scorecard highlights five key pieces of data about a college: costs, graduation rate, loan default rate, average amount borrowed, and median earnings of former students who received federal financial aid, at 10 years after attending.

In as little as two years, students can learn more to eventually earn more. Quincy College programs are designed to provide students with specific skills and job training so they may enter the workforce or pursue advanced degrees. The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard data reveals the successful outcomes of Quincy College students and reflects the high value of a Quincy College education beyond the classroom.

Quincy College’s programs, partnerships, and curriculum are addressing a critical skills gap for the Commonwealth and the New England region. Ongoing collaboration with the College’s multiple industry advisory boards keeps course offerings relevant to industry needs, establishes workforce pipelines, and helps students maximize their return on investment in their studies.

Quincy College President Peter H. Tsaffaras, J.D. reflected on the recent U.S. Department of Education’s ranking: “Our goal is to provide people with an education that allows them to become socially and economically productive members of society. This information, which was developed by the U.S Department of Education and is available to the public, indicates that we are making progress on behalf of our students in achieving our goal.”

Quincy College offers 35 associate degree programs and 21 certificate programs in a variety of disciplines, including those within Professional Programs, Liberal Arts, Natural & Health Sciences, and Nursing. For more information on Quincy College programs, please visit: www.quincycollege.edu.

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FY 2016 Valuations Available At Assessors Office, Library, Online

The Quincy Board of Assessors has conducted a comprehensive reassessment of all classes of properties in the City of Quincy, as mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

The proposed Fiscal Year 2016 valuations are available for review in the Assessors Office, City Hall, 1305 Hancock St., Quincy, daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. They are also available at the Thomas Crane Public Library on Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The valuations are available online at http://www.quincyma.gov

These values are pending preliminary certification, according to city officials.

Taxpayers may contact the Board of Assessors with questions regarding the
proposed assessments by calling 617-376-1183.

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