October 8, 2019 (BOSTON, MA) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) is planning to sue the Massachusetts Department of Transportation after officials unlawfully eliminated the I-93 high occupancy vehicle lane to allow all traffic to use the lane north of Boston. The HOV lane is a required component of CLF’s settlement with the state regarding mitigation from Big Dig emissions, and removing it violates the Clean Air Act and state law.
“With the daily traffic nightmare on our roads, opening this lane to all cars is short-sighted, slows commutes for bus riders, and violates the law,” said Staci Rubin, Senior Attorney at CLF. “Punishing people for carpooling and taking public transit is the exact opposite of good policy. For the sake of our environment and the health and well-being of residents north of Boston, the state must realize its mistake and undo this change immediately.”
The state opened the HOV lane to all traffic on May 14, arguing that construction and reduced lanes on the Tobin Bridge made the change necessary. But the carpoolers and bus riders who were previously given priority have experienced significantly longer commute times as a result.
CLF sued the state in the early 1990s to push for better transportation options as a result of the Big Dig. The settlement required a number of projects including the Green Line extension, the Red-Blue connector, and the creation and maintenance of high occupancy vehicle lanes.
CLF delivered the notice of intent to sue today, and it can be found here. The state has 60 days to respond before the lawsuit is officially filed.
Other transportation advocates have also criticized the HOV lane decision.
“MassDOT’s decision to eliminate priority for bus riders and carpoolers goes against its own stated goal of moving more people in fewer vehicles, and should be reversed immediately,” said Chris Dempsey, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts. “Decisions like this one have left Greater Boston with the worst traffic congestion in the country. We applaud the Conservation Law Foundation for taking legal action to protect commuters and the environment.”
CLF experts are available for further comment.