Downtown Worcester from Franklin St. (public domain)
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June 25, 2010 – Speaking of the City Council vote on the CSX rail yard expansion, there was yet another meeting in Vernon Hill this week, where residents were allowed to voice concerns last night over the impact the project will have on the area.
State Rep. Vincent Pedone hosted the meeting. Residents asked about several topics, from local traffic patterns, truck pollution, and noise and quality of life issues.
The rail yard expansion, which will see CSX invest more than $120 million in doubling its size in the city, will also (eventually) bring with it 20 new commuter rail trains that local and state officials, especially Worcester's Own Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, have been fighting for and negotiating, for several years. CSX has already pledged several million dollars for local road improvements, and other community projects.
There was also a presentation by VHB Engineering Inc., a firm Rep. Pedone hired to take a look at the alternative routes proposed by the city and state to compensate for the closing of the Putnam Lane Interstate Superhighway System, which will be closed as part of CSX's expansion plans.
John Bechard of VHB said that the alternatives he looked at either didn't meet or barely met minimum standards for road grade, or required too many tight turns that also didn't meet minimum design standards. This is likely because Putnam Lane is a 1-lane horse trail with some asphalt on it. It's doubtful that will stop the folks giving the Eastside a bad name.
One resident asked about how the city will hold CSX to its word. Mr. Pedone said the agreement is in writing, and that the city will be able to legally enforce its agreement with the company. They will also have the legal authority to make CSX obey city ordinances. Chances are excellent that's the case, since Lt. Gov. Murray was involved in these negotiations as well.
June 26, 2010 - The contract for WRTA drivers, mechanics and dispatchers is set to expire Wednesday, June 30th.
Negotiators for the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 22 have met some seven times over the past two months to reach an agreement with RTA Transit Services Inc., which operates the WRTA buses.
More negotiating sessions are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to settle monetary issues, including wages, health insurance premiums and vacation time. The Local 22 also has two membership meetings scheduled. Members will meet Monday to discuss strategy and take a strike authorization vote.
The current contract was ratified in August of 2007, requiring an extension from the June 30 expiration date. It raised wages 3 percent for each of three years, but increased members’ share of medical insurance premiums from 11 percent to 13 percent and co-payments by $5.
In the Summer of 2004, there was a 66-day strike, which crippled businesses around the City, and spelled the virtual demise of the Greendale Mall. It still has not recovered.