No money for taking trolley poles down

John Ruch

The old, rusty poles that once held electric streetcar wires above Centre and South streets are sticking around for a while after all, according to an MBTA project manager.

An informal agreement to make removal of the sidewalk-crowding poles a priority was reached in December between the MBTA and the Boston Transportation Department, as the Gazette previously reported.

But at a Feb. 3 meeting about Route 39 bus improvements, MBTA project manager Erik Scheier said that the MBTA’s pole-removal funding isn’t coming through.

The MBTA is using federal stimulus funds for the Route 39 improvements, and intended to use them to remove the poles as well, Scheier said.

“We have talked to the FTA [Federal Transit Administration] about this…and they’re very clear we can only spend [stimulus] money on things that improve transit,” Scheier said, explaining that the federal government does not consider pole removal to be a transit project.

He noted that pole removal remains an item in the MBTA’s capital budget, as it has for years. “It’s just something we need to find a funding source [for],” he said.

The so-called catenary poles have been unused and rusting since 1985, when the MBTA halted the Arborway Green Line service through Jamaica Plain.

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