Environmental remediation is called for because the Big Dig, by increasing traffic, has many adverse environmental effects. So CLF went to court and got legally binding commitments for the Silver Line, the Green Line extension, and the Greenbush Line.
These are perhaps not perfect, and are still mostly unrealized, but they are overall positive steps to building a really good mass-transit infrastructure. I can’t imagine that there would have been any progress at all on that front without CLF’s willingness to sue.
The point I want to emphasize, though, is that these projects are not just givaways to the strap-hanging classes. They and their costs are part of the Big Dig package, as much so as the rebar and concrete that the cars and trucks drive over and under every day.
Alas, there is a fatal flaw. The Commonwealth and CLF agreed not only to build these projects, but to pay for them largely with MBTA debt. Which the T cannot afford. It’s sinking under its own debt right now; add the Green Line extension and kiss the whole mess goodbye.
Need I explain how unfair this is? Saddling MBTA commuters with Big Dig environmental costs is like billing victims for rape kits. But mostly it’s flat out unsustainable.
I understand why this has happened. There is some merit to the plan that says, Just build it, by hook or crook, and we’ll sort out who pays for it later.
But, sooner or later, it’s later. And if there is going to be some big reordering of priorities, some gathering of the squeaky wheels from Western Mass. to Metro West, then the strap hangers, and everyone who cares about the environment, ought to be in that number too.