The Codcast: Plotting the future at DOT

Scott Hamwey’s job is figuring out the state’s transportation future. As the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s manager of long-range planning, he is charged with trying to plot a course for the next 25 years.

In a Codcast talk with Josh Fairchild and James Aloisi of TransitMatters, Hamwey focuses on both the short and long term. The short-term is the MBTA service expansion nobody’s talking about — extending the Silver Line bus to East Boston and Chelsea, providing a one-seat ride for residents of those communities to the Seaport District. Adding a little spice to the ride, the SL3 will make use of bus rapid transit, or BRT, over a Chelsea railroad corridor so it will feel more like a subway ride.

The SL3 is on schedule to open in the spring of 2018 using existing Silver Line buses, which are currently undergoing an overhaul in Maine.

The T is also starting to test possible future replacements for the Silver Line buses. Any procurement is eight years away, but Hamwey expects the replacements will be off-the-shelf electric hybrids capable of operating on electricity in the tunnels out of South Station and gas above ground. “It’s certainly not going to be the same vehicle we use today,” Hamwey says.

Hamwey’s other priority is Focus 40, a look at the transportation system’s long-term future. Three public events have been held so far, complete with a Barr Foundation-financed “street team” designed to gather extensive feedback from the actual riding public.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker says the Affordable Care Act needs fixes, but Congress shouldn’t take a meat cleaver to itr. (Patriot Ledger)

State Rep. Alan Silvia of Fall River is seeking to extend the state’s Historic Tax Credit to 2023 as well as raise the cap to $60 million and move the administration of it from the secretary of state to the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. (State House News Service) CommonWealth put the spotlight on the program nine years ago and the problems with it being run by Secretary of State William Galvin.

Lawmakers want to keep tax credits from flowing to people out of state, particularly New Hampshire. (Salem News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera fires police officer William Green — for the third time. (Eagle-Tribune)

Cities and towns are owed millions of dollars in unpaid excise taxes and the municipalities have little leverage over the scofflaws. (Salem News)

A new hotel in downtown Worcester doesn’t have a restaurant because the hope is that guests will eat out at neighborhood restaurants. (MassLive)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Another day, another rationale for President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, with the president contradicting top aides and his vice president about the reason and the timing. (New York Times) A Globe editorial says the Russia scandal isn’t Watergate — it may be worse. The Trump administration’s credibility “now lies in pieces,” says Scot Lehigh. (Boston Globe)

Acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe contradicted the White House narrative in a hearing in Congress, saying Comey was well-liked by rank and file members and the probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia is, in fact, “highly significant.” (New York Times)

President Trump will have his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July at the G-20 summit in Germany. (U.S. News & World Report)

US Reps. Niki Tsongas and Katherine Clark talk about the Comey firing, the GOP health reform bill, and the sisterhood among the vastly outnumbered female members of Congress. (Greater Boston)

US officials are weighing a laptop ban on flights from Europe. (Los Angeles Times)

ELECTIONS

Frank Phillips says Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito is denying — “sort of — that she was involved in the hiring of the son of campaign donors for a $72,000 state job. (Boston Globe) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez lashed out at the Baker administration over a report earlier this week about patronage hiring — but he was at the center of patronage hiring flap of his own while serving in the Patrick administration. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Russian cybersecurity and anti-virus software company Kaspersky Lab, whose US headquarters is in Woburn, is getting unwelcome attention from US officials questioning whether the firm could have ties to Russian security services, something the company denies. (Boston Globe)

Outdoor outfitter L.L. Bean will open a retail store in Boston’s Seaport district. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Jeff Riley, the state-appointed receiver of the Lawrence schools, comes down hard on a member of the largely powerless School Committee who questioned in a newspaper article his decision to use half of the high school’s library for a school-within-a-school for top students. Riley called Marianela Rivera’s comments shameful and divisive and noted that Rivera was fired from her school job as a physical therapist  and doesn’t send her children to the city’s schools. (Eagle-Tribune)

In an editorial, the Boston Herald  says it’s pleased that Senate President Stan Rosenberg seemed to shoot down the idea of taking up legislation being pushed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association to school accountability measures (Rosenberg says he wants to stay focused on passing the 2018 “millionaire’s tax” to boost school funding), but the paper says it suspects he’s sympathetic to “the meat” of the bill.

A robocall to parents from the Bridgewater-Raynham High School principal put an end to an annual rite of seniors playing a popular game called “Senior Assassin” that triggered calls to police in both towns from residents thinking crimes were being committed by those waiting in ambush. (The Enterprise)

The mother of two black girls attending the Mystic Valley Charter School in Malden says they are facing detention and possible suspension for wearing hair braid extensions — something she calls racially insensitive but which the school insists is simply a violation of its dress code. (Boston Globe)

Framingham Town Meeting members blocked Framingham State University from acquiring a historic building that houses an art museum on the town’s Centre Common. The action came after residents expressed concern over the school’s growing footprint. (MetroWest Daily News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts assisted living facilities reported more than 300 incidents of abuse, neglect, and exploitation — and half of them were filed late. (CommonWealth)

TRANSPORTATION

Taunton officials and residents packed a Department of Transportation public hearing to voice strong opposition to run the South Coast Rail project on existing tracks in Middleboro rather than new lines through Stoughton, a switch critics say leaves Taunton and Raynham out of potential economic growth. (Taunton Gazette)

Uber is fighting a regulation that would limit the numbers of hours per day and per week that its drivers in Massachusetts can work. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Trump administration has ordered a local panel that advises the Cape Cod National Seashore to suspend its meetings, an unprecedented move that has advocates for the pristine coastal area worried. (Boston Globe)

Using examples from Germany and Australia, Michael Sununu examines the downside of renewables. (CommonWealth)

The drought is officially over in Massachusetts. (MassLive)

CASINOS

A federal Appeals Court in Boston declined to hold a hearing on a lower court ruling that allows the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head to open up a gaming hall in its community center in Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Kevin Cullen explains how Bampumim Teixeira, the alleged killed of South Boston physicians Richard Field and Lina Bolaños, managed to avoid potential deportation following his arrest last year for bank robbery. (Boston Globe) Howie Carr offers a more caustic take on the case. (Boston Herald)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back policies by the Obama administration easing penalties for nonviolent drug offenders and ordered federal prosecutors to seek harsher sentences for those convicted of such crimes. (New York Times)

A 36-year-old Plymouth man is under arrest after leading police on a wild chase in Hanson. After his car was stopped, he then stole a police cruiser and continued the chase. (Patriot Ledger)

Police in Lowell launch a massive manhunt for a man who allegedly shot a woman. (Lowell Sun)

MEDIA

New York Times public editor Liz Spayd examines a libel lawsuit being filed against the paper by Murray Energy, an aggrieved coal company.