Opinion

Bearing down on the Blue Line

Extending Blue Line rapid transit service from Revere to Lynn has been discussed at Lynn meetings, underscored during press conferences, and emphasized at public hearings.

Thanks to state Sen. Brendan Crighton’s decision to file legislation studying the feasibility of an extension, the debate over bringing the Blue Line to Lynn has finally found a bigger arena.

Backed by fellow members of the Lynn legislative delegation, Crighton can repeatedly make the case before his colleagues and state transportation officials for how the Blue Line extension, in his words, “could change lives.”

Bills filed by legislators wind their way through a process that takes them to legislative committees where Crighton can emphasize the extension’s importance to state transportation officials sure to be in attendance, as well Lynn area officials and residents advocating for the extension.

It was a frustrated former state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, now the city’s mayor, who stood before state transportation officials at North Shore Community College on May 5, 2016, to argue, with Crighton and former City Councilor — now state Rep. — Dan Cahill at hand, that extending the Blue Line 4.5 miles from Revere’s Wonderland station to Lynn “is imperative to the region.”

The Lynn Business Partnership has made that same argument for more than 25 years and now Crighton’s push to engage in a legislative debate over the extension and its feasibility raises the Blue Line to the same level of discourse as state plans to make improvements to other major MBTA lines.

Local advocacy, city zoning decisions and development trends have long buttressed the extension’s merits. The growth of Lynn’s downtown as a residential destination fits into the argument that it makes sense to tie residential development to rapid transit.

The mostly-empty commuter rail garage is mute testament to the need to bring a more vibrant and intensely used form of public transportation to Lynn.

The MBTA set the stage for a broader debate about the Blue Line extension in forums much larger than a community meeting when it highlighted Lynn in its comprehensive Focus40 plan. It labeled the city “a priority place” for review as part of the MBTA’s analysis of how to meet transportation needs through 2040. Priority place status underscores the lack of an existing adequate transportation network.

Another state study, the Lynn Transit Action Plan, will focus partly on extending the Blue Line. By filing legislation for a Blue Line extension feasibility study, Crighton is highlighting the importance of these studies and focusing much broader attention on the extension’s merits.

More Stories From Lynn