The East Arlington Concerned Citizens Committee (EACCC), describing its successful effort to place a nonbinding question about the Mass. Ave. Corridor project on the April town election ballot as a victory, has requested an investigation of what it calls "long pattern of collusion to eliminate public participation."
In a 17-page letter to Tomasz Janikula, an engineer who oversees the project, EACCC members asked the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to conduct a probe.
The letter also charges that the town, MassDOT and the town's engineering firm Fay, Spofford & Thorndike (FST) misrepresented that the town's open house meeting on April 4, 2012, met the FHWA recommendation of last Aug. 20 for another formal public meeting on the roadway design.
Last, the letter says, FST submitted inaccurate and incomplete data for an FHWA required analysis for the town's roadway design.
These claims are made in a news release that Eric Berger, longtime foe of the Corridor project, sent to YourArlington.
The release says MassDOT, the town of Arlington and its engineering firm engaged in collusion to eliminate the public from the development of the Mass. Ave. Corridor Project. No required public meetings were held for six years until October 2008, "when the corridor design was already set in stone," the release says.
"That design was revealed at a meeting in February 2009 and railroaded through without input and without any required alternate designs being presented," Berger said in the release.
"At the heart of our request for an investigation is the long-standing pattern of misinformation or deception," Berger added in the release.
Since the fall of 2008, town officials have maintained that the public has been involved and informed.
The release also says:
"On January 10, 2013, the East Arlington Concerned Citizens Committee won a victory in its long fight against the removal of any travel lanes on the corridor. The town's registrars determined the EACCC's nonbinding question must be placed on the ballot for the April 6 town election.
"More than 3,100 signatures submitted were certified as those of Arlington's registered voters. The question asks voters, 'Shall the Town have four vehicular travel lanes on Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington as now practiced? Yes_No_.'
"'The selectmen twice refused to place our question on the ballot so we took it to the people. They overwhelmingly agreed with us,'" the release quotes Berger.
"'Town officials knew there would be tremendous opposition from residents and business owners in removing any travel lanes on the Mass. Ave. Corridor. They colluded to block public participation,'" Berger said in the release. "The corridor serves as transportation life blood for our community. Squeezing in bike lanes close to the safer Minuteman Bikeway cripples 98% of the corridor's users, undermining safety."
The release is dated Jan. 21. Berger declined to explain whether the date is correct, and if it is why the release was sent out Jan. 27.
The EACCC at the time declined two requests for comment.
The group remained publicly silent on the issue until The Globe published a story Jan. 27.
That story did not report the group's latest charges.
YourArlington requested a copy of the 17-page letter, and Berger declined to address the request, saying only that EACCC members would be glad to meet.
Contracts for the project from Pond Lane to Cambridge in East Arlington are scheduled to be awarded this spring, with work to begin this summer.
It is unclear what force the nonbinding vote in April would have should Corridor opponents be successful.
Oct. 17, 2012: Mass. Ave. critics again seek ballot question | Word on the Street, April 8, 2012: As many as 80 view plans | June 14, 2011: 4-1 selectmen vote pushes avenue project toward 75% goal | April 13, 2011: 345 hear speakers for, against
This story was published Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.