Tag Archives: buses

Speak out, WRTA riders!!! … and a message from MPS …

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Worcester’s inner-city population depends on buses and pedal-/foot-power to travel around the city. pic: R.T.

Join WCCC and other Organizations
from around the city to Speak Up about proposed WRTA Bus Rate Increases and to Request Affordable, Safe and Reliable Transportation for Everyone!

Tuesday, April 11

4:30 p.m.

at the Worcester Public Library

Speak up now or pay more later!!

Current fare: $3.50 for unlimited rides.

Proposed increase: $5.00 for 6 rides max

Call for more information: 508-796-1411 x 148

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From Mauro D. on the preservation of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church:

Thank you for attending April 3rd’s dynamic general membership meeting!

Thanks to those who made themselves available for the film producers and, to those who could not not make it on camera due to time constraints, a special thank you for your patience and support.

If you were not on camera, please know there may be other opportunities to express your knowledge and experience of this horrible situation going on!

Your continued support is highly valued and needed.

It looks like our Meat Raffle fund raiser is off to a great start.

It takes place on April 22 at 1 PM at Union Tavern on 65 Green St.

Our appeal has been received by the Vatican and we are moving forward.

Prospects with a Barrister in Rome look very encouraging.

There will be a special prayer vigil at 9 am in front of St Paul’s Cathedral on TUESDAY, April 11, across the street from the entrance, near the parking lot of Denholms. If rides are needed, call a fellow member.

We invite everyone to attend our Sunday Prayer Vigil Sunday at 10 am at the Mount Carmel Apartments. A great place to meet and keep informed.

God Bless You and God Bless Our Lady of Mount Carmel!

Mauro
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http://www.preserveourladyofmountcarmel.org

This just in …

There are so many working-class folks unhappy with bus service in Worcester/Worcester County. They say WRTA buses are often (very) late, sometimes as late as a half hour! During these pretty spring days the buses’ lopsided schedules are a major inconvenience; in January they’re an affront to the working poor. Or anyone trying to get around Worcester.  – R.T.

Please attend these meetings and voice your concerns!

From the WRTA:

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) has been undergoing a Comprehensive Service Analysis (CSA) of its entire fixed-route system by consultants, URS Corporation.

The final document is expected to be completed by the beginning of summer 2015.

In a continuing effort to engage WRTA customers and the public in this process, the WRTA wants you to help prioritize potential service changes …

The WRTA will be holding public meetings to discuss these potential changes and to obtain customer feedback.

The meetings will be held on:

Tuesday, APRIL 21

1 pm –  3 pm

CMRPC Union Hall Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Union Station (2 Washington Square, Worcester)

Wednesday, APRIL 22

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

CMRPC Union Hall Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Union Station (2 Washington Square, Worcester)

Thursday, APRIL 30

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Jacob Edwards Library

236 Main St., Southbridge

Pioppi Conference Room, Lower Level

WRTA bus garage comes to Green Island

By Sue Moynagh

On Wednesday, February 26, the WRTA held a public meeting at the Green Island Neighborhood Center. At a press conference on April 21, 2011, it was announced that the WRTA Vehicle Maintenance and Operations facility would relocate from Grove Street to 40 Quinsigamond Avenue. A series of meetings were held to gauge public opinion. This was the fourth meeting of this series, the last having taken place on October 9, 2013.

At this meeting, WRTA Administrator Steve O’Neil and STV, Inc.Associate Project Manager Neal Depasquale presented the designs for the facility, including building, grounds and immediate neighborhood layout. This presentation emphasized two aspects of the design: community “friendliness” and environmental mitigation. There were about twenty people present including State Representatives Dan Donahue and Mary Keefe, City Councilor Sarai Rivera and Jonathan Church from the Central Mass. Regional Planning Commission. Most of those present were members of the Green Island Residents Group, Inc. Executive Director Ron Charette of SWNIC also attended. There were a few questions and concerns raised, primarily about traffic issues, but most of those in attendance were pleased with the plans.

The new WRTA facility will be located at 40 Quinsigamond Avenue, which is currently limited development brownfield. It will be situated on approximately 11 acres of land on what used to be the Commonwealth and then NStar Gas Company site. Steve O’Neil was the first to speak. He said that the design was about 30% completed, and he wanted to include neighborhood opinions throughout the process. The WRTA is getting close to purchase of the parcel. One small easement problem needs to be ironed out, but he says they want to “hit the ground running this spring” when it comes to actual development of the property. Mr. O’Neil also emphasized the importance of making the building and grounds community friendly.

Then, Neal Depasquale showed conceptual site plans and explained how the space will be used in order to be efficient and also have low impact on the neighborhood. The façade will be similar to that of the Hub Terminal Building near Union Station. There will be some brick work with a middle panel utilizing soft grays and blues. Windows will be placed along the storage area. Although they have no functional purpose inside the building, they will make the building look less industrial from the outside. There will be a trellis-like approach to the building that will partially block the view, and the DPW pump station will also block pedestrian view.

The building will have two levels. The lower level will be for maintaining and storing the buses and will be approximately 137,000 square feet. The 13,000 square foot upper level will hold administration offices, state-of-the-art training areas, a library and operations offices. There will be visual contact with the site entrances for added security. The building will be ADA compliant on both levels.

There will be two entryways onto the site. Buses will come into the main entrance across from Endicott Street. They will immediately move to the back of the site adjacent to the railroad tracks so as not to be visible from the street. There will be maintenance and storage areas within the facility out of site of the public. At present, there are 52 buses and 28 demand response vans, with plans to purchase more. There will be limits on noise and idling. Fuel delivery and storage is also in the back. The other entrance, onto Southbridge Street, will be for emergency use, particularly if flooding occurs.

How will this facility be community friendly? There will be a community room that can be booked for events and meetings that can hold up to 50 people. This will be perfect when the Community Room in the Green Island Neighborhood Center is being utilized or is too small for an event. This room will be on the ground floor. There will also be a kitchenette off the community room for employee and function use. There will be two parking lots immediately inside the main gate. One lot will hold 100 spaces for operators, and the other auxiliary lot of 50 spaces may be used on occasion by neighborhood residents, most likely when the community room is booked. There will be three shifts, so the building will be open at night.

The main building entry way is across the street from Crompton Park and will obviously include a ramp for accessibility. The lobby and community room will be right inside. There will be security measures including surveillance cameras at the gates just outside the entryway. Buses entering will use transponders to automatically open the gates upon arrival. The storage and maintenance portion of the building will include five overhead doors, adjustable according to weather conditions, which will facilitate movement of the buses. The design focus is to make the building both welcoming and secure from all four points.

Traffic concerns were brought up by a few in attendance. Will there be traffic problems near the park and on Southbridge Street during peak traffic hours, especially during inclement weather? How about noise? Mr. O’Neil stated that no traffic mitigation measures were necessary according to the traffic analysis draft. The buses will be leaving the facility very early in the morning, between 4:30 and 6:00 a.m. well before normal peak traffic hours. Many of the buses will be returning at night, after 8:00 p.m., some even coming in between 11:00 p.m. and midnight. As for noise, many of the newer hybrid and electric buses are very quiet in comparison to the older diesel models.

When buses arrive back, they are flagged for storage or maintenance service, fueled, washed and then stored or sent for repairs. There will be 8 service bays for inspecting, repairing and cleaning the buses, above and below the vehicle and for wheel alignments.
At this point, environmental concerns were addressed. Both speakers affirmed that the design was environmentally sustainable. For instance, skylights will introduce natural light to operations and maintenance areas of the building. Standing trees will have to be removed but low shrubs will be planted around the entrance way. Budget constraints will limit landscaping, but if cuts have to be made, most of them will impact the interior of the storage area. Mr. O’Neil said, “We want the neighborhood to be proud of the building.”

One resident voiced concerns about the emergency entrance way. Lafayette Street is a narrow street and she asked how increased traffic would affect pedestrian traffic. She was told that they would revisit the area, and work with the city for necessary sidewalk and streetlight improvements. She also requested a “virtual reality” type of presentation, which would show traffic and pedestrians in motion. The designers would try to comply with the request for the next meeting.

Rep. Mary Keefe asked about water conservation. Could rain and snow melt water be collected for washing the buses and landscaping? The designers would have to look at the payback. It could possibly cost more to harvest water than to use city water supplies. Since flooding is an issue for the site, the facility has to be designed to raise it approximately 6 feet above the flood plain, and allow for underground storage of excess water. The gradient will control movement of the water and the gravel and plastic- lined storage area will prevent overflow or leakage of water into the flood plain. Barriers would not be necessary. Mr. O’ Neil did state that existing problems with flooding in the neighborhood will most likely remain, but will not be exacerbated by the facility. Plans will be viewed by the Conservation Commission.

The meeting lasted about an hour, and attendees had opportunity to speak one on one with the presenters and view plans close up. More meetings will be scheduled as work proceeds. Steve O’Neil also told residents that he would be glad to answer any questions that come up between meetings and they should feel free to contact him. These public meetings are well- advertised and are a perfect opportunity to be a part of this process and I hope residents and stakeholders will continue to express their concerns, ask questions or make suggestions.

The WRTA takes the “public” outa public transportation … and a few Worcester development developments

By Rosalie Tirella

A few days ago we checked our INCITY TIMES email to find a plethora of documents – information, phone numbers, petitions, etc from the folks (the soon to be displaced tenants) who are fighting Becker College’s leasing of their big apartment building on Fruit Street. Seems the college was dissuaded from buying the two homes in the Highland Street area so they could fill them with kids and decided things would be more “fruitful” on Fruit Street, a place with more office buildings, apartment buildings and fewer homeowners. People who are gonna fight the kids’ arrival tooth and tong.

My heart goes out to the group of Fruit Street tenants who sent me all the information. Yup. They are, when their leases expire, being thrown out of their very cool apartments that they so dearly love, their homes, so that Becker College kids can live in them, experience city living, courtesy of Becker College, which is leasing the building from the owner/s.

Renters never have the clout homeowners do. They don’t have the bucks. Money trumps good tenants ALWAYS, good folks who want to continue enjoying their apartments/lives.

I often get packages like the one emailed to me from the Fruit Street folks. A last ditch effort, so to speak. Over the dozen years I’ve been putting out ICT, people have come to know my passion for the little guy and gal. They know I worry about gentrification and working folks and families. They know I won’t back away from a fight if I believe in a cause.

But somehow, the Becker kids moving into the building doesn’t freak me out. Would if I lived there. Or my family lived there. But being removed from the situation some, I can be more objective and say: The tenants need to get in touch with our CDCs and begin looking for new digs. WHICH SUCKS. Been there, done that. However, Worcester needs the college kids, the educated future of TOMORROW. We talk about Becker’s cool video gaming program and how it’s attracting kids from all over the region who want to attend the school to get the hip gaming degree. Well, where is the school, is Worcester, going to put them? House them? In Holden?

Truth be told, the Highland Street homes seemed OK, too. If you buy a home next door to a college, this is what you are gonna get: A COLLEGE. A college filled with college kids. And so the TOWN-GOWN dance begins. Conflict is the accurate word.

My heart breaks for the Fruit Street tenants, but their landlord is within his or her legal rights. And Worcester’s colleges need to flourish and keep up with the times. Also, young people are energizing for a city.

The WRTA mess. Only the WRTA could take the public outa public transportation! Depressing!

However, we were happy to see, a few days ago as we drove past City Hall, one of the free shuttle mini buses that WRTA head honcho Steve O’Neil promised WRTA riders. After another public hearing where bus riders said: WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE BUSES? THEY ARE LATE. HOURS LATE. OR THEY DON’T SHOW UP AT ALL! STOP THE CHAOS!

I guess O’Neil felt the people’s pain cuz he did the right thing: got some shuttle buses floating around City Hall to pick up for FREE WRTA riders who were too freaking exhausted to walk all the way down to the new transportation hub to catch their buses home. They can no longer catch them at the logical place, in front of City Hall where all the stores, businesses and coffee shops are. Now they must do their business, make their purchases and take a hike with bags, food, books, etc to the new transportation hub. EXHAUSTING. Which is why O’Neil got the free shuttle buses going. Now people can hop onto these buses – I saw one driving by me as I waited at the stop light – and be DRIVEN to the transportation hub. Here’s hoping there is some frequency to these shuttles. You shouldn’t have to wait 20 minutes for one. You could miss your bus!

God, there are a ton of kinks to work out! Why not have two transportation hubs? The old City Hall one, which actually worked And the new one which looks good but is totally pointless? One that works, one for show.

I nominate Jo Hart for Woo transportation tzar! Or maybe she could take over Steve O’Neil’s job …

The WRTA vs “Jo” Hart: Go, Jo, go!

Jo Hart, a lone voice in a too too cruel city when it comes to the WRTA’s new bus hub/route schedule. Hear her rail against the machine Mon., July 29, 5 p.m. at the Worcester City Council Public Service & Transportation Sub-Committee meeting. City Hall. Main Street. City Manager Mike O’Brien will throw his two cents in with a shiny, sleek report! So many WRTA commuters are unhappy with the new location, new schedules … It’ll really suck come winter. – R. T.

Great work, Neighbor to Neighbor!

I have worked with and known the N2N crowd for more than a decade – wonderful ladies (mostly ladies) who work to empower Latino and low-income voters. As we move to celebrate InCity Times’ 12th birthday (our special 12th anniversay issue comes out Friday after next), it is so so cool to be able to run this info from folks who, like us, have been fighting the good fight for Woo’s inner-city folks –  for YEARS! Kudos, N2N!  – R. Tirella
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Inadequate regional transit systems take a significant toll on the quality of life of low-income Latinos in our communities
Over the past several months, Neighbor to Neighbor-MA teamed up with Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Planning to conduct door to door surveys, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups to show the effects of transportation in everyday lives. The final report, out this week, shows that inadequate regional transit systems take a significant toll on the quality of life of low-income Latinos in our communities. New data shows just how great that toll is, and provides a plan for how to reduce its effect on the health, employment opportunities, education, stress level, time, and wallets of our neighbors.
Click on the pictures below to read more about how infrequent, expensive, and unreliable transportation impacts daily life in these stories from local and national media. (EVEN IF YOU CAN’T SEE THE PICS, CLICK ON THE BOXES! YOU STILL GET THE INFO! – r. t.)
N2N Worcester leader Terri Cherry
shares her story with
Lynn State Sen. McGee, Chair of the
Joint Committee on Transportation,
talks about the need for
transportation reform.
N2N Springfield leader Ana Sanoguel
The Dukakis Center’s
explains the facts and figures
of the report.
Find more from our members at WBUR, Boston Magazine … . You can read the report here.
This report is an unprecedented collaboration between N2N-MA and the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, with major support from the Barr Foundation and supporters like you.
By combining hard data and personal stories, this report makes an even stronger case for economic justice.
Your support is crucial in this ongoing fight!
Onward!

Hub bub over our new transportation hub

By Rosalie Tirella

Bring back the bus stop in front of City Hall! Screw the shiny, brandy new transportation hub next to Union Station! That’s what our city’s WRTA bus riders seem to be telling city leaders. A bunch of folks were at City Council meeting recently to complain about the city’s new transportation hub. They said what we said a few months ago on this website and in ICT : It is hard walking to the new site with bags and bundles. It is hard walking to the new hub with bags and bundles in the rain (or sleet or snow, come this winter), if you work downtown and you want to just trek on down to City Hall to take your bus home. With the new system, you now have to end your work day walking another 20 to 30 minutes to get to the new transportation hub. Exhausting after a long day at CVS, the MID-TOWN Mall or any other downtown biz where poorer folks, folks without cars, work. And connections, missed bus connections, are more likely, since the buses keep their City Hall schedule, but riders must now hot foot it way way way out of their way to catch their buses. Make that miss their buses.

Yes, the new hub looks good standing beige and proud at Washington Square. Yes, it looks good on paper, or to people who were never poor and carless. But for folks whose lives are hard enough this new system means more hardship.

The people who go to Union Station to jump on a train to commute to Boston or Metro West are not the same Worcesterites who hop on a bus to get to their jobs as nurses aides in city nursing homes. There are probably very few folks who bus to Union Station to take the train to Boston. Two different groups of folks with very different commuting needs. The nurses aides are taking it in the chin.

Why did City Manager Mike O’Brien shut down the main busstop in front of City Hall? Why not have the new transportation hub AND the old City Hall stop? Let’s give folks choices, not herd them some place else, like urban cows and sheep. It’s as if O’BRIEN wanted to cleanse his up and coming downtown of all the poor, minority folks he believed would drag it down, make the new Worcester look sketchy, unsafe. Not new and shiny.

Shame on the city manager for being so superficial and thoughtless. Where would families be without nurses aides caring for elderly parents or friends. And people barely making above minimum wage deserve to be supported by our city leaders, not undermined.

Bring back the bus stop in front of City Hall, CM O’Brien. Don’t work against the working class and the poor.

Worcester’s transportation hub hub-bub!

By Rosalie Tirella

editor’s note: if you want to make your voice heard on this issue, please attend the public hearing tomorrow at the Worcester Public Library, 3:30 p.m. In the Saxe Room.

The move to move the main downtown bus stop away from City Hall to next door to Union Station blows. City leaders and the daily are touting the plan as part of a grand design to make the Union Station area the city’s transportation hub. A nexxus for trains, buses that go out of state … now our city buses. It all makes for synergy, good urban design, blah, blah, blah.

But what it really accomplishes, and I believe this is what city leaders are really aiming for, is the furthur removal of poor people from our downtown. Get the rabble away from City Hall!! Everyone looks so downtrodden! Everyone looks so young! Lots of folks waiting for the buses in front of City Hall, WHERE FOR EONS WORCESTERITES HAVE TRANSFERRED FROM ONE CITY BUS TO ANOTHER TO GET WHERE THEY NEEDED TO GO, are people of color! Young people of color. The working poor. This is bad p.r. for a City on the Move!

People of color, young people, poorer people! Get them away from our precious downtown common. Shoo them away from City Hall and the center of our city. Make our public school students and the nurses aides and the folks who work at CVS or Honey Farms, make folks whose lives are hard enough, feel like pariahs! Way to go City of Worcester. When the change occurs in April, is it safe to say it will be City Manager Mike OBrien’s municipal spring clean up?

How horrific! How small! How classist and racist. By removing these folks we will have ZERO, or close to it, folks making their way through our downtown. You know, the downtown Worcester where thousands of people used to traverse as they went about their business: shopping, paying bills at city hall, eating at restaurants, RUSHING TO CATCH THE BUS BEFORE IT PULLED AWAY! Now we really will have dead urban space!

And what about the person who actually buses downtown to shop? Well, now that person will have to lug his CVS bags or MidTown Mall packages all the way to the beginning of Shrewsbury Street. Not a very fun hike if it is raining, cold or snowing. Not a very fun hike if you are old or walk with a cane.

City leaders should be whacked on their rusted-out skulls for this latest insult to the little guy and gal!

This just in … Kill the WRTA hub

By John Provost

What if some arbitrary decision were made to close a road that cut 5-10 minutes off your commute each way, every day? … without any input from those who use it.

The reason given might be excessive noise or congestion.

Suppose there is also no way to shorten the delay by improving any alternate route.

Your routine – commuting, getting things done, living your life – would be permanently impaired!

As a driver, you would be up-in-arms!

WRTA wants to move the transfer point for local buses away from City Hall and downtown … to a pavilion near the Peter Pan / Greyhound annex to Union Station.

You may have bused when you were younger? You might need them when you’re older. Perhaps you use them now.

The ease of non-drivers’ getting around and conducting their business in this city – could soon be downgraded! A livability factor for a whole class of people; students, disabled, elderly and working poor – is at stake! Let’s not set more hurtles of inconvenience for those whose mobility is already compromised and limited.

Integration of local buses with inter-city train & bus may appear logical at first glance but would come at a high cost of inconvenience for local, day-to-day bus commuters; people who have long been conditioned and resigned to expecting little more than indifference to THEIR concerns:

1) The proposed transfer point is not central to downtown so those wanting to do errands en-route would need to walk three to five blocks to/from downtown to avoid yet another transfer. The extra time walking to and from would frustrate effective use of layover time. IMHO it would discourage more than encourage use of public transportation.

2) The most likely routing [hasn’t even been discussed] would have buses from the east and south turn first into the transfer facility before going downtown – or terminating, forcing riders to either transfer or walk downtown from / to the station for service from / to an eastside or southward local route. The spokesman admitted that would probably be the case (that buses from the east would turn into the station first before going downtown.

Union Station is NOT a destination for most local, day-to-day riders.

Yet City Councilors back this moving of the transfer point away from downtown.

“But over the years, city councilors have encouraged the WRTA to move its transfer center elsewhere, particularly to Union Station, because of concern about the number of teenagers who congregate in front of City Hall throughout the day as they wait for buses.”

Teenagers, like everyone else, have to commute. They can’t drive so they comprise a larger share of riders. As there are fewer busses they have to wait longer so it seems as if there are more of them. A June T&G article ranked Worcester 80th in the 100 biggest cities for having longer-than average bus waiting times and poorer access to service.

…. WRTA could not supply a number or ratio of local riders connecting to rail or inter-city bus when asked at a Worcester Library meeting 9/22. I asked WRTA’s spokesman at that meeting if anyone had asked riders if they thought changing the transfer point to the edge of downtown was a good idea. He could not answer in the affirmative.

WRTA plans to break ground on this new hub in November – with 60% of the project planning already completed. There will be discussion at WRTA’s Advisory Board Meeting tomorrow morning according to their Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Worcester-Regional-Transit-Authority/74387422073

The WRTA’s new Green Island digs (Asthma, anyone?)

By Maureen Schwab

On April 21, The Worcester Regional Transit Authority held a press conference on Quinsigamond Ave, at Crompton Park, to formally announce the award of a $ 39 million federal grant that will be used to build a new mainatainace and operation center. The WRTA plans to locate the new center on seven of the twelve acres of land owned by NSTAR, located on Quinsigamond Ave and Lafayette Street. The remaining five acres will be used by the State Department of Transportation.

This move will place both projects in close proximity, possibly as close as across the street, from Crompton Park, and a century old residential neighborhood known as Green Island. The residents of Green Island were not invited to the press conference, nor were they asked to serve on a committee that would guide the project to insure that neighborhood concerns were heard and hopefully met.

As promised, after the 4.21.meeting, the residents of Green Island were given the opportunity to hear from members of the City Council and administrators from the Worcester Regional Transit Authority about plans to move the WRTA maintenance and operation center to the empty NSTR property.

Notices were sent to Green Island residents, with a personal invitation from Worcester District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller to attend a meeting of Public Service and Transportation Committee. The meeting was held for the convenience of the Green Island residents, at the Green Island Neighborhood Center, 50 Canton Street, on Wednesday May 18.

Only about 12 residents, several WRTA employees and members of the management team were in attendance. Those residents of Green Island, who did attend, had the opportunity to hear information about the proposed WRTA move from WRTA Administrator Stephen F. O’Neil, and to ask questions about the project.

Many of the questions from residents raised serious concerns about noise and air pollution. At this time, attendees were told by O’Neil, traffic and environmental studies have not been conducted, but when they are, they will meet with all of the necessary requirements. CC Joseph Petty stated he has never received any complaints about air pollution at the Grove Street facility.

Questions about the State Dept. Of Transportation move were taken by State Rep. John Fresolo. Again, concerns were raised again about noise and air pollution. Rep. Fresolo will hold a separate meeting, at a date and location to be announced, to discuss issues related to this move.

The most important outcome of this meeting was the formation of a citizen’s advisory committee which will allow for residents to monitor the progress of this project, and the opportunity to serve on a design review committee. Anyone who is interested in being on the committee can call the City Clerk’s office and ask to be added to the list. The design review committee will be chosen from this list.

The move from Grove Street to Quinsigamond Ave will have the WRTA leave pollution behind on one site, and perhaps only partially remove the toxins that sit in the ground on the NSTAR lot. The grant money cannot be used to clean or renovate l what has been allowed to deteriorate on Grove Street for 75 years; the money can only be used to build a new facility. According to a newspaper article, the design of the new building is estimated to cost $4.1 million, with construction estimated at $48.8 million.

That’s a little more than $39 million.

Fresh, unpolluted air, on the other hand, is priceless.