Environmental impact overlooked in approving glance at rail plan

July 22, 2011

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I AM disappointed that the Globe overlooked the detrimental environmental impact that significant increases in train traffic on the Grand Junction railroad would have on the cities of Cambridge and Somerville (“MBTA should run trains from Worcester to North Station,’’ Editorial, July 11).

The potential effects of noise, vibration, and air pollution from trains and cars idling at street-level crossings raise serious concerns about how health and quality of life in Cambridge and Somerville will be affected by this proposal. Adding insult to injury, this project may preclude the construction of a long-awaited community path, which would provide much-needed access to green space in a dense urban environment.

According to the state’s own figures, only 8 percent of Worcester line riders have destinations near North Station, an area of Boston that is already easily accessible to them by boarding the Orange Line at Back Bay station. Running up to 24 trains per day through thickly populated urban neighborhoods to better serve such a tiny number of commuters is unnecessary, irresponsible, and would do little to take cars off the road.

With so many problems facing our tunnels, bridges, and the MBTA, this proposal - no matter how small the price tag - would be an unfortunate misappropriation of scarce taxpayer resources.

Timothy J. Toomey Jr.
State representative
26th Middlesex District

The writer is also a Cambridge city councilor.