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On the MassDOT Blog

MassDOT Safety Video Contest for High School Students!

MassDOT has announced the third annual statewide Safe Streets Smart Trips high school video contest. The contest serves as an initiative within the Massachusetts Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) to promote safe walking, bicycling, and driving behaviors within the Commonwealth.

The contest began two years ago to encourage high school students to take the lead in showcasing an understanding of roadway safety across travel modes in an effort to decrease pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities – a trend that has not followed the Commonwealth’s downward shift in traffic-related incidents over the past few years.

View the entire Safety Video Contest blog post.

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May 20, 2016

MBTA: Overtime, Absenteeism Rates Continue Decline


The MBTA continues to drive down overtime costs. Daily operating overtime expense for the first four months of 2016 was down nearly 45 percent compared to the same period last year, and rates of absenteeism and dropped trips have also seen significant declines, according to a presentation to the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board by Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve.

"This is a good indicator that our efforts to make the T a more efficient and productive organization are having a significant impact," said Chief Administrator Shortsleeve. "We will be able to invest more into the system for pay-go capital and maintenance initiatives, such as upgrading old technology and winter resiliency work on rail and signals, by controlling operating expenses and continuing on a path to a balanced budget."

In addition to the 44.6 percent decrease in operating overtime expense compared with the same period last year, there was a 27.5 percent decrease in per day overtime expense compared with the daily average for all of 2015. The total overtime expense for calendar year 2015 was $56.3 million, and the MBTA has set a goal of reducing overtime expenses by 25 percent in calendar year 2016.

Overtime hours worked were down 43 percent for the first four months (120 days) of the year compared to the same time last year. Overtime initiatives put in place to provide greater oversight include direct management approvals of overtime via signed timesheets, work summary reports to verify work productivity, and tracking monthly overtime spending for review and discussion of its effectiveness.

In addition, a new leave and attendance policy was instituted on January 1st. It requires employees to follow strict call-in procedures and for managers to carefully log unscheduled absences, with Family and Medical Leave Act denials in cases where employees fail to provide timely and complete medical certification.

The percentage of MBTA employees using one or more days of the Family and Medical Leave Act time off provision was down 18 percent from the first 10 months of Fiscal Year 2016 compared to the full 2015 Fiscal Year. There was a 22 percent decrease in MBTA employees using five or more days of FMLA during that same period.

Unscheduled absence days per employee were down 27 percent in the first four months of 2016, compared to 2015. And 13,838 fewer work days were lost to unscheduled absences in the first four months of this year as were last year, an approximately 36 percent decrease.

Operator unscheduled absences were down 33 percent for the first four months of 2016, compared to the full 2015 Fiscal Year.

Reductions in absenteeism are having a direct impact on service. As a result, weekday bus dropped trips were down 40 percent.

Additional information on MBTA reform efforts can be found by visiting MBTA Back On Track

Focus40 Kickoff: A Night to Focus on the T’s Future


What will Greater Boston look like in the year 2040? How will climate change, new technologies, demographic trends and new mobility choices shape our transportation system? Join Secretary Of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jay Ash and an interactive panel on Tuesday, May 24 to kick off Focus40: The 2040 Investment Plan for the MBTA by exploring the broader context in which the MBTA will need to think about its investment priorities.

The event will be held at Northeastern University’s Curry Student Center, 360 Huntington Ave., Boston. Drop by the event’s Open House any time on May 24 from 5 to 9 PM, and be sure to check out the interactive panel discussion between 6:30 and 8 PM.

During the Open House, attendees will be able to discuss the state of the MBTA system with MBTA leadership, learn how various trends are impacting our region and share personal experiences and thoughts about these topics.

After remarks from Secretaries Pollack and Ash at 6:30 PM, Ted Landsmark (President Emeritus, Boston Architectural College) will moderate a conversation with a range of future thinkers:

  • David Chang – Entrepreneur & Angel Investor; Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Harvard Business School
  • Arthur Jemison – Former Deputy Undersecretary, Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development; now Director of Housing & Revitalization, City of Detroit
  • Lee Moreau – Architect Turned Strategist; Principal, Continuum (“The Future Made Real”)
  • Geeta Pradhan – Co-Developer, Boston Indicators Project; President, Cambridge Community Foundation
  • Julie Wormser – Climate Change Specialist; Vice President for Policy and Planning, Boston Harbor Now

The event will launch Focus40, a 25-year capital plan that will articulate a clear investment strategy for the MBTA. Focus40 will address today’s capital needs, as well as the anticipated transit needs of Greater Boston in the year 2040. This plan will aim to identify needs and prioritize investment strategies with the understanding that funding is not unlimited and tradeoffs will need to be made.

As part of this effort, Focus40 is releasing a Transit Priorities Survey. The online survey will go live on the project website on May 24, the day of the Focus40 Kickoff Event. The survey invites respondents to share their thoughts on how the MBTA should prioritize different types of transit investments for bus, rapid transit, commuter rail, paratransit and ferry service. The survey will be available in English, Spanish and Simplified Chinese.

For more information on Focus40, visit the project website linked above. If you have any questions or comments, please contact MassDOT’s Project Manager, Scott Hamwey, at 857-368-9800 or via email at

Somerville: Beacon Street Reconstruction Groundbreaking

MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin joined Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, state and local officials to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Beacon Street Reconstruction Project.

child on bicycle

The $11 million project includes Beacon Street from Oxford Street/Somerville Avenue south to the Cambridge city line near Inman Square. Work will include new sidewalks, cycle track, curbing, and drainage and signal improvements.

The project will improve the lifespan of the road by rebuilding the sub-surface, grading the surface for positive drainage, and installing a new high-quality asphalt surface. The roadway design will improve the safety and flow of traffic, while dramatically improving pedestrian accessibility and bicycle safety. Completion is scheduled for 2018.

Longfellow Bridge Project Public Meetings Set for May 24-25

MassDOT has scheduled two Public Information Meetings for the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project as follows:

Tuesday, May 24, 6:00-8:00pm, Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second Street, Cambridge

Wednesday, May 25, 6:00-8:00pm, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Auditorium, 51 Blossom Street, Boston

The purpose of the meetings is to provide an update on recent progress and discuss Stage 4 of construction, anticipated to begin in late July 2016. In Stage 4, inbound vehicles and the MBTA Red Line tracks will be shifted to the upstream side of the bridge to allow the contractor to work on the downstream side. All bicycle traffic, both inbound and outbound, will continue to use the upstream sidewalk, and pedestrians will continue to use the downstream side of the bridge. Following the presentation, staff from MassDOT and the design/build contractor, White-Skanska-Consigli JV, will be available to answer questions. The same presentation will be delivered at each meeting, so participants may choose the most convenient date or location.

For more information about the project or to sign up to receive email advisories, please visit the project website linked above. For construction related questions or issues, contact the project hotline, 617-519-9892, or email address, View the Longfellow Bridge Flickr album for construction progress photos.

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