One week down, three more to go
That may be the chief takeaway as we near the end of the first week of the month-long Orange Line shutdown.
After all the buildup and hype – by the media and state officials –the shutdown hasn’t been all that bad so far.
And the reality hasn’t matched the projections put forward by state officials before the shutdown began.
While Gov. Charlie Baker and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak warned of inconvenience and urged riders to be patient, state Highway Commissioner Jonathan Gulliver suggested the Orange Line shutdown and its replacement shuttle service would turn Boston into a bumper-to-bumper mess. He urged people to avoid Boston if they can.
“I know that some of the transit users may be considering driving as an alternative to the shuttle buses. I assure you that that is not a good option and you should look to other transit options,” Gulliver said. “We are urging travelers to evaluate their commute and, if possible, adjust or look for a route that avoids the shuttle diversion if you must drive in and shift your travel time to off-peak hours.”
“If possible,” he added, “avoid the region altogether until the diversion period has ended.”
The warnings appear to have worked. Poftak on Wednesday said passenger levels were down, although he lacked numbers. Some Orange Line riders used the shuttle buses, but many shifted to commuter rail or simply stayed away and enjoyed the end of summer.
Toward the end of the week, Poftak stopped holding daily media briefings on the shutdown because there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in hearing how the project remained on schedule.
James Aloisi, the former secretary of transportation, said the media frenzy about the Orange Line shutdown had the desired effect. But he worries the end-of-summer lull will give way to a post-Labor Day crush.
Going her own way: State Sen. Lydia Edwards of East Boston has split from her progressive colleagues by supporting a slimmed-down bill expanding the offenses for which a defendant can be deemed dangerous and be detained pretrial and by supporting Kevin Hayden for Suffolk County DA over Ricardo Arroyo. In both cases, Edwards, the Senate’s lone Black senator, prioritized practical considerations over political orthodoxy.
– On the dangerousness bill, she split with the ACLU of Massachusetts. “They’re focused on the rights of the person who’s holding the gun and not the person facing the gun. That’s their job. My job is to hear both sides,” Edwards said.
– On Hayden, she backed the more seasoned prosecutor over the candidate who is the darling of progressives. “Kevin was responding, Kevin was producing, and Kevin was listening,” she said, citing his willingness to look into possible criminal charges against the owner of a Revere apartment building that was the scene of a recent fire. “Why would I do anything but try to help him, a Black man at that, keep his job,” she said. Read more.
Carr hired: Massport official Gordon Carr is selected as the executive director of the New Bedford Port Authority, making him a key player in both the fishing and offshore wind industries. Read more.
Finalists interviewed: The state Board of Higher Education interviews the four finalists for its top jobs. Here’s what they had to say. Read more.
Wrong direction: Todd Gazda, executive director of the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton, says raising the scores needed to pass MCAS is another slap in the face for educators across Massachusetts. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
A poll done by the conservative Fiscal Alliance Foundation says about two-thirds of voters of both parties want the state to honor the 1986 law passed via a ballot question to return revenue over a certain amount to taxpayers. (Boston Herald)
Gov. Charlie Baker unveils a $40 million plan to bolster school safety in the state. (Boston Globe)
Massachusetts is beginning to notify the thousands of people who were wrongly convicted as part of the state drug lab scandal that they are eligible to split a $14 million settlement. (WBUR)
Holyoke City Councilor Wilmer Puelo-Molla resumes his duties after 90 days in jail and while preparing for a trial in Rhode Island on several serious charges. (MassLive)
Worcester is facing a shortage of 911 dispatchers. (Telegram & Gazette)
Pregnant women protest the closing of the North Shore Birth Center at Beverly Hospital, which is part of Beth Israel Lahey. Hospital officials say the center must close because of a shortage of midwives, but former patients complain the shutdown is disrupting their pregnancies. (Salem News)
A federal judge ordered the Justice Department to release a redacted version of the affidavit used to secure a search warrant for former president Donald Trump’s Florida estate. (New York Times)
President Biden, who has faced criticism from within his party for his willingness to try to work across the political aisle, says the Republican Party has turned toward “semi-facism.” (Washington Post)
Suffolk DA candidate Ricardo Arroyo could face an investigation by the state’s Office of Bar Counsel for omitting mention on his law license application of investigations of sexual assault allegations from 2005 and 2007. Arroyo says he had no knowledge of the probes. (Boston Globe)
The Berkshire Eagle endorses Timothy Shugrue over Andrea Harrington for Berkshire County district attorney. The paper slammed Harrington’s “widely recognized poor performance” and her decision to spend the last four years “viewing herself as the county’s minister of justice as opposed to being a careful and competent chief prosecutor.”
A new poll from the MassINC Polling Group shows the Democratic primary race for attorney general tightening, with Shannon Liss-Riordan closing in on Andrea Campbell, who has led in polling to date. (Boston Globe)
Jack Spillane holds a 90-minute conversation on Zoom with the three Democrats vying for the nomination for Bristol County sheriff – and the right to take on longtime Republican incumbent Tom Hodgson in November. (New Bedford Light)
Amazon will close five warehouses in the state to compensate for “overgrowth” during the pandemic. (Boston Globe)
Gov. Charlie Baker said he was “disturbed” by recent remarks by the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association against raising the passing score for MCAS. (Boston Herald)
The city of Boston conveys four parcels of land (33,000 square feet total) in the Four Corners section of Boston and gives $850,000 in seed money to a group that plans to create an “Urban Wild” there. (Dorchester Reporter)
A mother in Great Barrington shoots a picture of her son taking a bath in dirty brown water that she says comes from her tap. The water supplier, the Housatonic Water Works Co., says the discoloration is due to manganese in the water source. Officials say they are exploring the purchase of a new filtration system, but that could precipitate a rate hike. (Berkshire Eagle)CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS
US Attorney Rachael Rollins and US Sen. Ed Markey say communities that bar outside candidates for police chief jobs could be violating civil rights laws. (WBUR)