Sunday, October 12, 2008

Connecting the Commonwealth and the T's Expansion

From today's Sunday Boston Globe two different takes on mass transportation in Massachusetts.

In the weekly Starts & Stops column, the newest report from MASSPIRG is cited. MASSPIRG just published "Connecting the Commonwealth: Key Public Transportation Projects and Their Benefits for Massachusetts." The 53-page MASSPIRG report focuses on why more and better mass transit is needed in the Commonwealth in the 21st century. Transit enthusiasts will embrace this report, which also details how Massachusetts can expand its infrastructure to include New England metro-areas outside the state. Of course, the larger question is how to fund the recommended initiatives, especially in the current fiscal situation the state is currently facing. Not to mention the economic issues plaguing our federal government.

On a different note, the "Starts & Stops" column lead story, about emergency services on the Pike, should be read by all Pike users.

Moving on - the second T-focused piece in today's Globe was an op-ed article authored by Charles Chieppo, who was a member of the MBTA's Blue Ribbon Committee on Forward Funding. Mr. Chieppo makes the case that the state needs to ensure better oversight of the T and the Authority's expansion projects.

The bulk of the editorial focuses on the proprosed Silver Line III expansion, connecting the Silver Line that runs between downtown and Dudley Station with the portion running between South Station and Logan Airport. This project is estimated to cost $1.8 billion. The project is in place because of environmental mitigation surrounding the Big Dig, specifically the additional vehicle traffic as a result of the road improvements. The reason the Silver Line III project is so expensive is because the T would need to tunnel under densely populated urban areas. If completed, the Silver Line III will only attract 15,000 new riders a day - mainly people who are probably already just walking around the city.

Mr. Chieppo is not arguing against funding mass transit projects. Rather, he has attempted to make the case to ensure that these projects are properly funded and properly managed.

The Big Dig initially appeared to have the funding, but look at where the mismanagement got us. The State is reeling from this project, designed to "improve" traffic flow in Boston. We need to urge our state leaders to look at the larger picture and put in mass transit and transportation infrastructure projects that benefit everyone.

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