Chelsea Viaduct Contract Approved

Chelsea Viaduct Contract Approved

The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has approved the contract for construction on the Chelsea Viaduct project, with the low bidder being Skanska McCourt at $169.37 million, some 3 percent below estimates for the massive rebuilding project.

A key part of the scope of work identified in the documents includes keeping the Arlington Street on-ramp, an entryway that had been considered for possible removal.

The project was bid out in July, and a Notice to Proceed is expected in January, with substructure repairs starting shortly after that and into the spring of 2020.

The Chelsea Viaduct is the elevated highway that runs from the County Road overpass to just beyond the 4th Street off ramp. The project has been in the planning stages for more than a month.

The scope of the project includes repairing and retrofitting the superstructure underneath the viaduct. That will take the rusted steel beams and retrofit them with new concrete structures that will be decorated with murals.

That work is expected to begin in the early months of 2019 and will proceed through the spring of 2020 – lasting more than a year.

That will be followed by replacement of the superstructure, which is the decking that the cars and road operate upon. That will be replaced primarily through a pre-fabricated bridge pieces that will be lifted into place and secured. Only two small pieces of the Viaduct will require traditional repair techniques. That will be over the railroad tracks and by the 4th Street off ramp.

There will be no traffic impacts on Route 1 during peak travel times. All work will be performed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on the substructure rehabilitation.

In the fall of 2020, the superstructure replacement will feature some traffic impacts, as they move three lanes into two lanes southbound and two lanes northbound. There will also be interim ramp closures at that time and some parking impacts as well.

As a part of the mitigation for the community, a new community parking lot will be constructed below the Viaduct to help with downtown parking. There will also be improved lighting and a solid snow fence built around portions of the Viaduct.

Completion is expected in 2021.

MassDOT officials said they are in the process of assembling a Chelsea Task Force that will analyze public transit, vehicular travel and other travel options throughout construction and work to ensure reliable transportation for all. More is expected on that Task Force in the coming months.

Cutlines –

1

A before and after view of the substructure repairs to the Chelsea Viaduct, going from rusted steel to a mural.

2 – (Timeline, no cut)

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DiDomenico,Colleagues Pass Bill to Improve Traffic Safety

DiDomenico,Colleagues Pass Bill to Improve Traffic Safety

Sen. Sal DiDomenico and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate recently voted to pass legislation that aims to create safer streets for all road users. Developed in collaboration with a coalition of bicycle, pedestrian and transportation advocates, S.2570, An Act to reduce traffic fatalities, includes several measures to improve road safety, lessen the severity of crashes, and standardize the collection and analysis of crash data.

“This bill is an important next step in our efforts to create safer streets for all road users, especially cyclists and pedestrians,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “We must ensure that our roadways are safe and accessible for everyone, and I am confident that this legislation will go a long way towards achieving that goal and reducing traffic fatalities in the Commonwealth.”

“We need to keep working year after year to achieve a future in which traffic fatalities get as close as possible to zero,” said Sen. William N. Brownsberger (D-Belmont), lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “This bill will help us move in the right direction.”

“This legislation updates basic protections for pedestrians, cyclists and others who may be on the road, and is a common-sense policy to ensure safer roadways for pedestrians and drivers alike” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “I am very happy the Senate has passed this legislation.”

“This bill takes an important step in encouraging the use of multimodal transportation to relieve the congestion and reduce our state’s carbon footprint,” said Sen. Joseph A. Boncore (D-Winthrop), who serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, which advanced the legislative measure forward with a favorable recommendation earlier this year. “Ensuring that pedestrians and cyclists have more protections on shared roads is vital to that end.”

The bill classifies several groups, including pedestrians, utility workers, first responders and cyclists, as “vulnerable road users,” and requires motor vehicles to apply a “safe passing distance” of at least three feet when traveling 30 miles per hour or less with an additional foot of clearance required for every 10 miles per hour over 30 miles per hour. Current law only requires motor vehicle operators to pass at “a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.” The bill would further require a vehicle that is overtaking a vulnerable road user to use all or part of the adjacent lane, crossing the center line if necessary, when it cannot pass at a safe distance in the same lane and only when it is safe to do so.

The bill would also require certain large vehicles newly purchased, leased or operated pursuant to a contract with the Commonwealth to be equipped with lateral protective devices to eliminate a vehicle’s high ground clearance and the extraordinary risk posed to vulnerable road users, who are susceptible to slipping underneath large vehicles during accidents. Such large vehicles would also be required to utilize convex and cross-over mirrors to increase a driver’s ability to see around their vehicle. These provisions would apply to vehicles purchased or leased by the Commonwealth after January 1, 2019 and to vehicles operating pursuant to leases entered into January 1, 2020.

The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security would be required to develop a standardized analysis tool to report crashes and incidents involving a vulnerable road user and maintain a publicly accessible database of such reports to help inform further efforts to reduce traffic fatalities.

The bill would establish a 25 mile per hour speed limit on an unposted area of state highway or parkway inside a thickly settled or business district within a city or town that has accepted the 25 mile per hour local option, as lower vehicle speeds reduce the severity of crashes. While current law requires persons riding bicycles at night to use a front white light, this bill would also require use of both a red rear light and a red rear reflector when riding at night to improve the visibility of bicyclists.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration

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Everett Avenue On-Ramp Closing for One Month on May 6

Everett Avenue On-Ramp Closing for One Month on May 6

 The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is reminding members of the public that the on-ramp from Everett Avenue onto the Tobin Bridge (Route 1 southbound) in Chelsea will be closed for approximately one month beginning on Sunday, May 6.

This traffic impact is associated with the ongoing Tobin Bridge Repair project and necessary in order to allow crews and contractors to safely and effectively conduct operations.

The Tobin Bridge work will also mean temporary off-peak lane closures on Route 1 north and southbound through November 2018, as well as some adjustments to the width of the travel lanes in order to allow crews to access work areas on the bridge. Additionally, the Beacon Street off-ramp will be closed for an approximately a two-month period beginning in summer 2018.

Three full lanes of travel will be in place on the Tobin Bridge this year during peak commute hours. Travelers are reminded that there will be future traffic impacts including permanent lane closures on Route 1 northbound during the 2019 and 2020 construction seasons.

This $41.6 million project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020.

The full scope of work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.

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City Gets Multi-Million-Dollar Federal Grant to Fund Beacham Street

City Gets Multi-Million-Dollar Federal Grant to Fund Beacham Street

The City announced on Wednesday that it had secured a $3 million federal grant to go towards full design and construction of the Beacham Street reconfiguration project.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Planner Alex Train broke the news, which is a major coup in the $9 million project – which looks to reconfigure Beacham Street as a critical east-west corridor between East Boston, Chelsea and Everett.

That would be achieved by reconfiguring the roadway not only for cars, but also for bicycles and pedestrians. It would also include landscaping improvements and accommodations for the trucking traffic that needs to use the corridor as well. Everett has also begun a similar project on its side of Beacham Street, and both project would align when completed.

The project also has some pieces that will provide flood protection from the Island End River, which has been known to spill over its bands and threaten the New England Produce Market – a regional, critical food supply facility.

The federal grant will go along with money set aside in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the project.

Ambrosino said they would also pursue money from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) from its Transportation Improvement Fund when that money becomes available.

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Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced several changes to the Mystic/Tobin Bridge repair project, including the one-month closure of the Everett Avenue on-ramp May 7.

MassDOT announced that since several projects in the area are coming underway – including the Alford Street Bridge, the North Washington Street Bridge, and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge in Boston – they have adjusted the Tobin work to not close a lane permanently on the lower deck northbound.

This schedule adjustment means that MassDOT will no longer be implementing a permanent lane closure on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from April 22 through November of this year but will instead be adjusting the width of the travel lanes in this area and utilizing off-peak lane closures. Three full lanes of travel will be in place on the bridge this year during peak commute hours.

The full list of impacts this construction season is now as follows:

  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the upper deck (Route 1 southbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Everett Avenue on-ramp closed at all times for one-month period beginning on May 7.
  • Beacon Street off-ramp closed at all times for a two-month period beginning in summer 2018.
  • Fourth Street off-ramp closed for a one-month period in 2019.

No more than one ramp will be closed at any given time throughout the duration of the project.

“We are investing historic levels of funding into our highway transportation system and we are seeking to do so in ways that minimize impacts on the travel public and our local communities,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Our construction teams have worked hard to optimize the schedule of operations to better accommodate travel throughout this area. We continue to encourage members of the public to learn about upcoming traffic impacts and use the appropriate tools to make the best decisions on traveling in order to reach their destinations in an efficient manner.”

This $41.6 million maintenance project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 with lane closures and traffic impacts occurring during each of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 construction seasons.

Work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.

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Secretary Pollack Would like Silver Line to go to Everett

Secretary Pollack Would like Silver Line to go to Everett

Just as the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line gets ready to launch in Chelsea on April 21, State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in a meeting in Boston that she would like to see it eventually expand to Everett – a plan that Everett officials and the Lower Mystic Regional Transportation Working Group has touted as well.

The Silver Line 3 (SL-3) will being operations on April 21, making a 30-minute journey from the Mystic (Market Basket) Mall to South Station, via Logan Airport and the Seaport in Boston, every 10 minutes. The BRT will run on a separate bus-only lane through Chelsea and over the Chelsea Street Bridge.

Pollack said that a draft of the soon-to-be-released Transportation plan, called Focus 40, will have a recommendation for Everett to be included in an expansion of the new Silver Line service.

“That service will open on April 21, and we’re looking forward to the opening,” she said. “That is a BRT service and we hope to continue it from Chelsea into Everett and Sullivan Square and other highly congested areas. That’s one other thing we are looking at in our Focus 40 plan.”

Those statements came at a breakfast in the Back Bay on March 20 where Pollack was the keynote speaker and addressing investment in the Orange Line. She also highlighted the new Silver Line service and the agency’s hopes to expand it in the years to come.

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New Early Morning MBTA Bus Routes Started this Week

New Early Morning MBTA Bus Routes Started this Week

New, early morning bus routes on several area MBTA lines began on Sunday, April 1, for a one-year early morning pilot program on the routes.

The pilot will be on the MBTA’s busiest key bus routes serving neighborhoods within the immediate Boston core traveling to downtown Boston, the Seaport, and key stops in between beginning as early as 3:20 a.m. Serving residents who start their work day before many people’s alarms ring, the new routes are part of the MBTA’s continued commitment to expanding offerings for those riders who need them most.

There are nine routes on the pilot, and four of them serve the areas of Everett, Chelsea, Revere, East Boston and downtown Boston. Those routes in this area include:

  • Route 104 – Lynn Street Revere via Broadway Everett to Sullivan Square.
  • Route 109 – serving Broadway Everett.
  • Route 117 – serving Wonderland Revere to East Boston, via Revere, Chelsea and Eastie.
  • Route 455 – Salem to Wonderland Revere.

“The T’s expansion into early morning bus service will provide an important opportunity for the changing needs of Massachusetts’ workforce,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Throughout this one-year pilot, the MBTA will be able to gather important information about changes in bus ridership and analyze that data to better inform future transportation plans around the Greater Boston area.”

“The launch of early morning service demonstrates that the MBTA is acting on its top priority to put the needs of its customers first,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “This new transit option will serve workers who must start their day earlier than most. Other commuters and city residents depend upon these essential workers and the MBTA’s ability to get them to their work places safely and on time.”

The changes also include additional service on existing routes during pre-dawn hours. Some routes will extend beyond their normal end points during the early morning to provide direct service to downtown Boston and Logan Airport, allowing customers to reach those destinations even before trains start running. Early morning service is already a part of the MBTA’s bus service on several routes, but these added services represent earlier and/or extended routes on several bus lines. This expansion is the result of a year-long ridership study and planning initiative at the T, which resulted in the identification of key routes where early morning demand is heaviest.

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MBTA Announces Silver Line Service to Start April 21 in Chelsea

MBTA Announces Silver Line Service to Start April 21 in Chelsea

The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the MBTA have pegged April 21 as the first day of operations for the new Silver Line Gateway (SL-3) in Chelsea and East Boston – connecting residents of Chelsea to the airport, the Seaport in Boston and South Station in what is expected to be a 30-minute ride from the Mystic Mall Station to South Station.

“Silver Line 3-Chelsea relates well to the Baker-Polito Administration’s economic development goals,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “Silver Line 3-Chelsea is consistent with the notion that if the MBTA can offer an efficient, fully accessible, one-seat ride between key destinations then more people will use mass transit and the service will spur transit-oriented development.”

MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramirez said it will simplify thousands of commutes to and from Boston.

“The MBTA is excited to bring this new service to Chelsea, East Boston, and the surrounding communities,” said Ramírez. “We believe the SL3-Chelsea will simplify the commutes of many of our customers in these neighborhoods.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it will likely make the City much more desirable for those who live here and those looking to live in Chelsea.

“The City is very excited about the opening of the new Silver Line,” he said. “It has been a long time in the making.  We feel it will substantially improve transportation options for our residents and make Chelsea and even more desirable place to live and work.”

Maria Belen Power of GreenRoots, an organization in Chelsea that advocates for better public transit, said it will be helpful to residents as Chelsea is highly dependent on public transit and has no subway stop.

“We are excited for service on the silver line to start in Chelsea, as it will provide another line of access from Chelsea to Boston,” she said. “As a community highly dependent on public transit with no subway stop, bus services, including bus rapid transit, are key for our community to thrive. While this is a great and necessary improvement in service, Chelsea still has the three busiest bus lines in the entire MBTA system. We will continue to hold the MBTA accountable to improve public transit in Chelsea for all of our residents.”

State Rep. RoseLee Vincent said she hopes the Silver Line introduction will help relieve the bus congestion.

“This new and expanded public transportation route will help to reduce overcrowding on MBTA buses that serve Chelsea, as well as provide residents of Chelsea an alternative and more direct route to subway routes and downtown Boston,” she said.

Fares on the SL-3 will be $2.25 per ride with CharlieCard, and a Linkpass costing $84.50 per month. Student and senior citizen passes cost $30. Children under 12 are free.

There are free transfers offered at:

  • Blue Line at Airport Station.
  • Red Line at South Station.
  • Bus Rapid Transit lines SL-1 (Logan to South Station), SL-2 (South Boston Design Center to South Station), SL-4 (Dudley Square to South Station).
  • Local Bus Routes 111, 112, 116 and 117.

MBTA officials predicted bus customers from Revere and Chelsea who tend to experience crowding issues on Bus Routes 111, 112, 114, 116, and 117 will benefit from the SL3-Chelsea. As an additional travel option, they said the SL3-Chelsea will make enhanced, new, or simplified connections to the Blue Line – at Airport Station – as well as the South Boston Waterfront and the Red Line at South Station.

Nearly 7,000 daily bus customers on these area routes take trips that can require several transfers in order to travel from Chelsea and East Boston to downtown areas. This commute is now simple and direct by using the SL3-Chelsea, filling a critical gap in access between these residents to the employment opportunities in the Seaport District and downtown.

Each of the Routes 111, 112, 114, 116, and 117 will also connect directly to or very close to brand new SL3-Chelsea stations, making hopping off a customer’s regular route to board the SL3-Chelsea easy and convenient. Route 111 connects at Bellingham Square Station, Route 112 utilizes a stop approximately 50 yards from Bellingham Square Station, Route 114’s City Hall Avenue bus stop is just three to five blocks from both Bellingham Square and Box District Stations, and Routes 116 and 117 connect at Box District Station.

The SL3-Chelsea route will operate 60-foot, high-capacity buses serving four new stations through dedicated, bus-only lanes in Chelsea and via the Coughlin Bypass in East Boston.

SL3-Chelsea buses will operate approximately every 10 minutes with the time between Chelsea and South Stations anticipated to be between 20 and 30 minutes.

This new service is the first brand new service to be introduced to the MBTA system since the MBTA Greenbush Commuter Rail Line began in 2007. Construction of the SL3-Chelsea route began in March 2015 with construction of dedicated busways and four new stations. Construction of this $49-million investment was managed by MassDOT’s Highway Division and jointly funded by the MBTA (approximately $42.1 million) and MassDOT ($7.6 million).

MBTA officials will present an overview of the new SL3-Chelsea service, discussing schedules, routes, and stops at the following two public meetings this month. Both meetings will provide Spanish language interpreters.

  • March 19, 2018

6:30 p.m.

East Boston High Auditorium

86 White Street, East Boston

  • March 21, 2018

6:30 p.m.

Chelsea City Hall

500 Broadway, Chelsea

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America as We Know It Is Over

America as We Know It Is Over

It is difficult to understate the impact upon the future of our country of the Republican tax bill proposals that have been passed by the House and Senate and await a reconciliation between the two versions for a final vote by both.

The most complex piece of tax legislation to be enacted in more than 30 years was devised and voted upon with little or no debate and in the middle of the night (after midnight, actually) in the Senate, with cross-outs and extended, hand-written notes in the margins such that no Senator really knows what he or she voted upon.

However, what is clear is that the tax bill will raise taxes on the middle class — some substantially so (especially here in Massachusetts) — and all but destroy the Affordable Care Act, while giving huge benefits to the ultra-rich in countless ways.

One of the most outrageous giveaways to the ultra-rich is that they can deduct the cost of maintenance of their private jets. Wouldn’t we all like to do that for our cars, the preferred mode of transportation for the rest of us?

In addition, this tax giveaway by the supposedly deficit-hawk, fiscally-conservative Republicans will be increasing the deficit by at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years, and most likely more than that.

All in all, this represents America’s move toward a real-life Hunger Games, in which most Americans barely will be able to scrape by with little or no prospect for economic mobility.

The American Century has been turned on its head — and we never will be the same again.

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City Councilor-at-Large Roy Avellaneda Announces Re-Election Bid

City Councilor-at-Large Roy Avellaneda Announces Re-Election Bid

Current Chelsea City Councilor at Large Roy Avellaneda has announced he will seek re-election to the City Council in the November 7th election.

Said Avellaneda, “It would be my privilege to continue to represent the people of Chelsea as Councilor at Large. I’ve never stopped fighting for Chelsea residents and stakeholders. But after a brief hiatus, two years ago, I decided to run again, and you gave me the honor of putting me back on the City Council.”

Roy is a lifelong Chelsea resident. His family moved here from Argentina in the 1970s and opened Tito’s Bakery on Broadway. He attended St Rose, Dom Savio High School, and Babson College.

“I was brought up in Chelsea, and I’ve lived here all of my life.  So I not only understand its history, but also keenly aware of its challenges, and most pressing needs,” he said.

He has served Chelsea as a member of the Planning Board, and on the City Council for a total of 12 years, the first time beginning in 1998.  He returned to the Council 2 years ago, and served on the Licensing Board in between.

Along the way, Roy has also worked as Legislative Assistant to State Senator Jarrett Barrios, and worked in the MA Department of Transportation during the administration of former Governor Deval Patrick.

“Twenty years in both local and state government, have given me a unique, and valuable experience. I know how the wheels of government turn, often slowly and painfully. So you have to get in there, roll up your sleeves, and keep pushing it along. You have to have patience, but always maintain a sense of urgency.”

Roy is also a successful real estate broker, and the top producing agent with Weichert, Realtors-Metropolitan Boston Real Estate.  Roy also currently also owns and operates his own cafe, Pan y Cafe in Cary Square, which he opened about a year ago.

“From a very early age,” he said, “my parents taught me the importance of public service — of being involved in one’s community.  But their story and their example also includes the business they founded.  I’ve always been involved in this community, but at the same time, whether it’s the bakery, a cafe, being a real estate broker, I’ve also been in my own business here in different ways for a long time now.  So I have the perspective, not only of someone who has worked in government, but also of a small business person. And in that sense, I’m doubling down on Chelsea because I believe in our bright future, and I always have. I’m doing everything I can to help bring it about and to make the lives of everyone in this community better. But I’ve also made my life here, and I think it’s important to be personally invested in your community, and have a stake in that future.”

Since re-joining the City Council in 2016, Roy has focused on a number issues confronting Chelsea residents and business owners, including tax relief, jobs and economic development, affordable housing, and environmental protection.

“Two years ago,” he said, “I made a commitment to do everything I could to make sure our homeowners and local businesses were not overburdened, to address the affordable housing crisis, to lobby for smart development that reduced negative impacts while increasing green space and support our youth. Today, I can point to achievements that improved those issues facing Chelsea.”

Specifically Roy sponsored, and along with with City Manager Tom Ambrosino, successfully lobbied for state legislative passage of the Home Rule Petition to Increase the Homeowner Residential Exemption from 20% to 35%, saving homeowners hundreds of dollars per year.

He also worked hard to get legislation passed to help small businesses with equipment or inventory of less than $10,000 in value pay less in taxes, resulting in an increase in investment and jobs by local Chelsea merchants.

Roy co-sponsored the Community Preservation Act ballot initiative and campaigned for its approval by voters. Chelsea approved it overwhelmingly (70%) creating a funding mechanism for affordable housing, green space and historic preservation.

Roy also supported and lobbied for the adoption of two key affordable housing measures.  The first, The Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, now requires 15% of housing built by developers to be affordable.  The second, The Condo Conversion Ordinance, limits multi-family owners from evicting tenants without just cause pursuant to condominium conversion.

Roy introduced and successfully lobbied for the passage Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance which now protects workers in Chelsea from unscrupulous employers who attempt to withhold rightfully earned wages and overtime.

Roy’s advocacy was also instrumental in obtaining more funding for Chelsea’s Summer Jobs Employment program, which provides summer jobs and the opportunity for for Chelsea teens to gain work experience and life skills.

“I am particularly proud to have the endorsements of the Greater Boston Labor Council, SEIU 888, SEIU 32BJ, Ironworkers Local 7 and New England Region of Carpenters,” he said, “because I have worked and fought hard for working people of all ages in Chelsea.”

“Two years ago, he said, “I asked Chelsea voters then to give me the opportunity to be their voice and to work for them.  They did, and for that, I’m very grateful. We’ve accomplished a lot since.  But, we have so much more work to do in Chelsea. We need improved access to affordable transportation.  We need a permanent bike sharing program. We need to keep pressure on MassPort to mitigate Logan Airport’s impact on our community. We need more balanced and smart new development that doesn’t negatively impact our quality of life. We need to focus on and properly mitigate the impact of the Wynn Casino. We have to increase economic opportunities for working families so they can afford to take care of themselves and their children and not be priced out of Chelsea.  There’s so much to do. So I am once again asking for your vote on Nov 7th to continue to be your Councilor At Large. Please support me on Tuesday, November 7th. Thank you and God bless.”

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