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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Governor Deval Patrick’s New Transportation Plan is Brilliant but Ill-Conceived

Governor Patrick outlined the new transportation plan at UMB earlier this month



Governor Deval’s “The Way Forward: A 21st Century Transportation Plan,” proposes a 10-year, $13 billion capital investment in our transportation system, which is $1.02 billion per year till then. 

How is this going to be paid for? By raising our taxes, of course. Income tax will be increased to 5.66 percent annually to fund this transportation plan. Well, ok—I can live with that.

But what exactly is the money going to be used for? MassDOT and the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) plan to spend approximately $4.4 billion and $1.1 billion over ten years to pay off previously incurred debts which stemmed from personnel, rent and utilities cost. If a little more hard-earned taxpayer money will help to get the state out of debt while expanding services on existing routes, I have no problem with that.

Also, the MBTA will get $3.2 billion, over 10 years, set aside for providing modest service enhancements such as keeping the T open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and restoring weekend service in places where it was cut. The money will also help to close current and projected budget deficits. I’m on board with this too. Getting rid of debt and getting home late on the weekends without needing to take an over-priced taxi sounds good to me.  

The plan also proposes spending money on bridge repair and implementing more effective safety measures on highly congested highways as well as bicycle and pedestrian paths.

The plan even outlines potentially adding new Orange and Red Line cars which may be produced right here in Massachusetts

I am for all of this. It sounds great, seems necessary and, at least on paper, it will improve services on the T and roads will be safer and less congested.  

I was in love with the governor’s proposal right up to the point where he reveals his plans for expansion.

Plans which will cost up to $4 billion to build new railroads down to Fall River and New Bedford. A green line extension to Medford. A railroad between Springfield and Boston and one from the Berkshires to NYC Rail. Isn’t that what Amtrak is for?

Embarking upon any sort of expansion should be nowhere in the thoughts of the administration, given the financial troubles it’s in and the present economic climate.

My uneasiness with this expansion is in the transportation plan itself, which talked about how the MBTA is in debt due to the lingering effects of the Big Dig of 2007 (the most expensive highway project in US history.)  

I’m pretty sure the transportation plan back then didn’t include incurring unbelievably massive amounts of debt down the line.  

Deval Patrick ended the transportation plan presentation with the statement, “I choose growth.”  Well, I choose to nurture the rail and transportation system we already have, not to expand and magnify the mess.  

Let’s have MassDOT, RTA and the MBTA in the green before we start expanding the green.