Proposed MBTA Monopoles in Manchester
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Citizen engagement is working!
As a result of public input to the project, the following statement was issued to the media on Friday, June 30, 2017:
"The MBTA today announced that it is conducting a 30-day assessment of the project approved by the MBTA in 2014 to install equipment along MBTA commuter rail line corridors to provide customers with improved Wi-Fi and cellular service. There will be no construction of poles or other infrastructure during this review, which will include comments and other feedback from customers, elected and appointed officials, and residents. A presentation on the status of this project will be given to the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board at an upcoming meeting."
Note that this statement refers to the 70-foot monopoles, not the 30-foot poles for the Positive Train Control System that are scheduled to be installed this summer.
The MBTA, through a contract with a private vendor, is proposing to install up to four tall monopoles (70 feet plus a 4 foot antenna) along the train tracks in town for the purpose of enhancing WiFi service on the train and other telecommunication enhancements. Three of the locations are known with a fourth still to be determined in the general vicinity of the Ledgewood Circle/Plum Hill area of town. The known locations are at the track crossing at Boardman Avenue, behind 6 Tuck’s Point Road, and at the train station behind the old electric company building.
The Selectmen were never formally notified of these proposals but have recently become more aware of the potential impacts of them and they are working hard to alter the current plans. We feel the Town has been put into a position of trying to play catch up to a process that has not been very transparent. Compounding the situation is the apparent exemption the MBTA has from local permitting (with the exception of wetland impact review which has a narrow focus.) However, the towers are subject to review under Section 106 of the National Preservation Act. This review must conclude that the towers will not have an adverse impact on historical assets before a federal permit for the FCC regulated towers can be built. The Town’s Historical Commission, the Selectmen and many Manchester citizens have all sent in letters to the state demanding that a more detailed analysis of the visual and other impacts the towers will have on our historic district before proceeding. We have also provided testimony before the MBTA Finance Management Control Board requesting that they halt the project in order to first undertake a thorough review of the finances, the technology and the overall efficacy of the project. These efforts are continuing.
In all, some 320 towers are proposed along the MBTA commuter rail lines in 60 communities. The Town of Andover was quick off the mark to organize against the project and we have followed their lead. We are working with them to gain the support and voices from other impacted communities. The response we are getting is encouraging. And the more citizen voices that weigh in, the better. Below you will find a list of officials you may want to contact.
In addition to the proposed monopoles, which we are now told will not be erected this summer, the MBTA is going forward with 30 foot poles for their Positive Train Control system. This is a federally mandated safety feature all train systems are to install. Four PTC poles are to be installed this summer in Manchester: near the track crossing at Boardman Avenue, near the track crossing at Beach Street (on the west side), and two others along the tracks in the woods toward the Gloucester line.
As efforts continue to alter this project, updates will be posted here. Your engagement is encouraged – write to state and federal officials, attend future MBTA control board meetings, send along suggestions to the Selectmen. Together we can drive the project to a more positive outcome.MBTA Control Board Meeting PowerPoint
MBTA's WIFI Plan Finds Opponents Along Rail Lines
Manchester Board of Selectmen Update on Proposed MBTA Monopoles - June 21, 2017
Background Information on the MBTA Monopoles Project
Information about the Section 106 Review Process
A Citizens Guide to Section 106 Review
The National Historic Preservation Act 1966
Protection of Historic Properties
Frequently Asked Questions about Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act