Decade under the T#039;s influence? No thanks

by Beacon Staff • September 24, 2008

p>Make no mistake: the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's plan to burrow the Silver Line beneath our neck of Boylston Street bodes ill for Emerson and its students. As the administration fights the state's transit behemoth for the sovereignty of our streetways, students should step up and proclaim their support.At issue:br /MBTA's plan to tunnel the Silver Line under Boylston Street.

br /Make no mistake: the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's plan to burrow the Silver Line beneath our neck of Boylston Street bodes ill for Emerson and its students. As the administration fights the state's transit behemoth for the sovereignty of our streetways, students should step up and proclaim their support.

The T's proposal, which calls for gutting the campus' main thoroughfare for at least five years, would be catastrophic in severity and scope. Even if the T's seemingly specious schedule is adhered to, the college's main artery would be torn asunder, long enough for two graduating classes to spend their whole Emerson careers in a construction zone. Dormitory-dwelling students, especially, would toil to the permanent soundtrack of jack-hammers and asphalt-layers. Attracting vivacious new students to a rended campus would become a Sisyphean task for the Admission Office.nbsp; And, as selectivity rates fell, we'd end up like Groucho Marx: Who wants to go to a college that would accept students with no aversion to the stink, eyesore and headache of MBTA-commissioned construction in the first place?

MBTA General Manager Daniel Grabauskas is no John Henry. His organization's inability to make self-imposed deadlines and budgets is legendary. (In a bizarre recent legal twist, Big Dig malfeasance forced a federal judge to decide whether America had indeed been at war since 9/11, because statutes of limitations for corrupted construction are nullified in wartime. The judge found, much to the T's glee, we had indeed been at war.) Emerson Vice President of Public Affairs David Rosen, who has made it his mission to foil the Silver Line construction, predicts the project will require the better part of a decade. Considering delays at the interminable Big Dig and Kenmore Square tunnel projects, his forecast seems more realistic.

We hope Rosen and Emerson President Jacqueline Liebergott can at least win some cooperation from the T going forward, if the state decides the transit authority's will must be done, and damn the locals. But the administration should not have to go this one alone. The Student Government Association should get behind the issue and throw its support behind the administration. If ever there was a problem that warranted a grassroots Facebook petition-group, this is it. Too much is at stake for once and future Emerson students (and the sophomores and freshmen who will watch Boylston Street ransacked).

It's hard to tell what's set the T's sights on sending the Silver Line subterranean (that their spokespeople have politely told us to screw hasn't helped us understand their side.) Their proposals claim a paternalistic impulse to help woebegotten Roxbury residents find jobs on the waterfront. That's nice, but what Roxbury residents really want is improved Orange Line service.nbsp; Why the MBTA should profess to know better what Roxbury needs is beyond us.

What we do know is the plan is bad for Emerson and bad for Boston. And what we propose now is that Emerson students vocally back their administration, at least on this issue. As always, we'd do well to heed Bob Dylan: "You can't rely no more to be standin' around waitin'...There's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend."