Urban Ring Regulatory Background
Planning for the Urban Ring has been underway for many years. Concepts for a circumferential transit line date back to the Boston Transportation Planning Review in the 1970s. This was followed by preliminary feasibility studies for an "Urban Ring" in the 1980s.
The current planning and environmental review process began in 1996, with the start of a Major Investment Study (MIS). The MIS was completed in 2001. It identified the Urban Ring corridor and destinations for service; proposed a three-phase implementation strategy; and established preliminary recommendations for Phases 1 and 2, as well as conceptual alternatives for Phase 3. Phase 1 was subsequently undertaken.
The MIS was followed by a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Phase 2. The DEIR study process analyzed 40 design variants and refinements for the Phase 2 bus rapid transit (BRT) element of the Urban Ring. The DEIR, completed in November 2004, identified a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for Phase 2.
In May 2005, the Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs approved the Phase 2 DEIR, but also required further study of new concepts and concerns. In November 2008, MassDOT (formerly EOT) addressed these issues in a combined federal Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and revised version of the DEIR (known as an "RDEIR/DEIS") for Phase 2, to meet both state and federal review requirements.
MassDOT filed a Notice of Project Change in June 2009, which was later withdrawn. On January 22, 2010, Secretary Jeffrey B. Mullan submitted a letter to the Secretary of Environmental Affairs clarifying MassDOT’s intent with regard to the Urban Ring project. Read the letter here.