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Brookline mulling how to speed up C Line along Beacon Street

Posted by Brock Parker  January 11, 2011 09:00 AM

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Brookline may soon ask the MBTA to revisit a proposal that would enable C Line trains to travel more quickly through several intersections along Beacon Street.

The proposal would extend green lights for the C Line trains and shorten the red light traffic signals that stop trains at several intersections. As a result, vehicles and some pedestrians crossing Beacon Street could have to wait a few seconds longer at those intersections, said Brian Kane, a member of the town’s Public Transportation Advisory Committee that is backing the proposal

“What we want is priority given to Green Line trains either all day or especially during rush hour,” Kane said.

Brookline’s Transportation Board will vote Jan. 20, on whether to send a letter asking the MBTA to work with the town on the proposal. The Beacon Street locations where the town is discussing giving the trains priority over crossing vehicle and pedestrian traffic include intersections with Hawes and Emory streets and Englewood and Summit avenues.

Todd Kirrane, Brookline’s transportation director, said Coolidge Corner would not be affected, nor would any other intersections where the train makes a stop for passengers.

“It wouldn’t be at every location,” Kirrane said. “It would be at those intersections where it wouldn’t have a detrimental affect on the overall traffic flow.”

Kirrane said the town has discussed the idea with the MBTA before, but for various reasons, including turnover at the MBTA, the proposal has fallen to the wayside.

But with a large percentage of Brookline’s population riding the T everyday, Kane said the Public Transportation Advisory Committee would like the town to make a commitment to prioritizing the needs of people choosing public transportation over use of private vehicles.

“I think that is an acceptable policy decision and I think this is a very good use of public resources and infrastructure,” Kane said.

Kane, who also sits on the Transportation Board, said the board and the town’s DPW control the traffic signals, but the town would need to work with the MBTA about whether any new equipment would be needed for the traffic signals to recognize an approaching C Line train and adjust the green or red lights accordingly.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email the authority supports any initiatives that present an opportunity to improve service for its customers, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the proposal with Brookline.

“Prioritization has led to more reliable service on the Silver Line, and the T would be happy to see it expanded to the Green Line—provided it happens at little or no cost to the MBTA,” Pesaturo said.

Abby Swaine, the chair of the town’s Public Transportation Advisory Committee, said there could be some cost in reprogramming the traffic signals and installing units on older MBTA trains that can be sensed by the traffic signals.

But Swaine said that with an invitation from the town to revisit the idea, she’s hoping the MBTA would “grab this issue by the shoulders.”

“This is something that matters an awful lot,” she said.

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