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Thursday, June 26, 2014

MassDOT to Host Public Hearing to Review an Equivalent Facilitation Request

On Thursday, July 10, 2014, the MBTA will hold a public hearing to review an Equivalent Facilitation Request by the Green Line Extension (GLX). The hearing will be held at the Dr. Albert F. Argenziano School at Lincoln Park, 290 Washington Street, Somerville, MA from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm in the cafeteria. Submittal of the Equivalent Facilitation Request is required as part of the project’s application for a Full Funding Grant Agreement with FTA. 
“Equivalent facilitation” is the means by which the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations accommodate innovation in accessible design; it is intended to permit the development of improvements in vehicle, facility, or equipment design that provides for equal or greater accessibility, but would not strictly meet the required design standards. It does not, however, represent a mechanism for obtaining a waiver from compliance. Equivalent facilitation is covered under federal law by 49 CFR Part 37.

Although the GLX project has been designed to provide significant mobility and accessibility improvements within Cambridge, Somerville and Medford, a determination of equivalent facilitation is required for several isolated situations near the GLX stations, mostly relating to points where the project improvements interface with the existing sloping roadway conditions that are familiar to GLX area residents and visitors.

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) ADA regulations contain specific requirements governing the process for requesting a determination of equivalent facilitation as well as conditions that must be met before a determination can be made. Section 37.9(d) of 49 CFR Part 37 describes the procedures and requirements for seeking a determination of equivalent facilitation for transportation facilities. No departures from these specific requirements can be made without a determination of equivalent facilitation from the FTA Administrator.

A formal determination of equivalent facilitation from the FTA Administrator permits departures from the specific technical and scoping requirements for specific facilities where the alternative designs and technologies used will provide substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability.

The requirement for an affirmative determination of equivalent facilitation serves two purposes. First, it ensures that the facilitation provision does not become a mechanism for amending the regulations outside of the Federal rulemaking process. Second, and perhaps more important, it provides a degree of assurance that any departure from the required standard fulfills the same function to an equal or greater degree.

This hearing on July 10 is to review the elements of this GLX request and solicit public comment before it is made final and submitted to FTA. The GLX Equivalent Facilitation Request draft for review can be found on the GLX website here: 

More information about the project is available on the Green Line Extension website at:

This meeting is accessible to people with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency. Accessibility accommodations and language services will be provided free of charge, upon request, as available. Such services include documents in alternate formats, translated documents, assistive listening devices, and interpreters (including American Sign Language). For more information or to request reasonable accommodations and/or language services please contact Joe Sgroi at or 617-996-0771. For TTY, please call 857-368-0655 and ask to speak with someone about the Green Line Extension project.

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