Massachusetts Transportation Investment Coalition, a coalition of public-spirited groups, issued a report yesterday about transportation in Massachusetts.
According to a report commissioned by the Massachusetts Transportation Investment Coalition, 585 bridges in the state are structurally deficient, the most heavily traveled being the Interstate 95 span that crosses the Newburyport Turnpike in Lynnfield. A stretch of North Road in Westfield is number one on the list of deteriorated highways. There may be no immediate safety hazard, but with truck and automobile transportation essential to the state economy, no highway should linger in substandard condition.
With the spike in gas prices, ridership on public transit has increased markedly, and the MBTA has worked hard to accommodate all its riders. Years of inadequate investment, however, have meant that 82 percent of the transit rolling stock is in poor or marginal condition, and 84 percent of commuter rail coaches are in similarly poor shape. Continual repair keeps most of them going, but the threat remains of unreliable service.
The coalition comprises 21 groups ranging from the American Automobile Association, Conservation Law Foundation, Construction Industries of Massachusetts, and the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council. Its members will spend the next few months going around the state explaining the extent of the problem. The coalition's findings ought to encourage legislative candidates to make transportation finance an issue this fall.
In other news, two consecutive commentaries published by The Salem News about commuter rail-related issues. Yesterday the paper wrote an editorial about attempts made on the North Shore back in 1978 for extending commuter rail options. If only you could go back in time, huh? The idea 30 years ago was to build electric LRVs to run along existing commuter rail and Blue Line tracks to move people from the North Shore to Boston. The editorial also touched upon the bad experience many North Shore residents had last week in attempting to use public transportation to get into Boston for the Celtics parade.
The Globe noted that this is a hard sell topic, due to the cost. Last year, the Legislature said it would cost $15 to 19 billion to fix all the transportation-related issues plaguing the Commonwealth. Increases in gasoline tax could fund the fixes, but then voters might become angry. That leaves increasing transit fares or toll hikes, which would be a few commuters would be contributing revenue to be used for state-wide transportation issues.
Today's editorial was about the lack of parking at the MBTA's Beverly Station lot. There is a lack of parking at the commuter rail system's second busiest (Salem) and third busiest (Beverly) stations. However, new stations have been built in Lynn and Lawrence. Yet these stations are not busy and the demand for parking is not as great.
It seems like the T was trying to satisfy some urban communities while ignoring some other suburban/urban areas. Where's the leadership? Who is making the decisions? Will we always have to ask these questions?
On a lighter note, be on the lookout for wrapped commuter rail trains. Boston Daily wrote about the unveiling of the first-ever wrapped commuter rail train we mentioned last week. The newly wrapped train was unveiled yesterday. We'll try to find some coverage about the event.