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MBTA Wi-Fi Monopole Project Will Not Advance

Aug 15, 2017 06:46AM ● By Theresa Gilman

State Senator Barbara L’Italien

(Editor's Note: the following information was provided by the office of State Senator Barbara L’Italien.) 

BOSTON – The MBTA announced on Thursday, August 10 that it will reject the proposed implementation of approximately 320 seventy-foot Wi-Fi monopoles along the Commuter Rail, in more than 60 communities including Andover.  
“This is a huge win for Andover and communities across the state.” said State Senator Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover. “Since May, I have heard from hundreds of my constituents and have led a coalition of local, state, and federal partners to oppose this project. This decision will preserve property values, public health, and is a testament to the power of local activism. The neighbor-to-neighbor advocacy and public pressure, in my opinion, is what ultimately delivered this win. Thank you to everyone for your tireless advocacy on this issue. ”
Since May, Senator L’Italien led efforts in Andover and convened a group of State House colleagues to oppose the project.  This bi-partisan team shared statements emphasizing the potential impact on property values and public health concerns, as well as lack of communication with impacted residents and communities. Sen. L’Italien herself sent several letters (including all of the dozens of pieces of correspondence she received from constituents) to the MBTA Fiscal Management Control Board (FMCB). This resulted in the FMCB’s imposed moratorium on the project last month.
In a letter to communications contractor BAI Communications, the MBTA said the proposal is not consistent with the license agreement, and cited the concerns raised by Senator L’Italien and her constituents such as the project’s impact on historic sites and community character.  
The MBTA said the license anticipated a more modest project involving the use of “short monopoles” or to provide Wi-Fi to commuters. BAI’s current proposal would double the size of every pole for the purpose of creating infrastructure to lease - and returning only a modest 7.5 percent of profits to the MBTA and taxpayers.
BAI has been invited to submit a new implementation plan that better reflects the more modest project anticipated by the license, as called for by Senator L’Italien and her constituents in their communication to the FMCB. This change would mitigate possible damage to property values and quality of life in impacted communities such as Andover’s historic Shawsheen Village.
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