Friday, November 14, 2008

MetroWest and North of City Fund Mass Pike

In case you haven't seen the updates flying out from The Boston Globe/Boston.com and The Boston Herald: Massachusetts. The Mass Pike Board has voted. And MetroWest and North of Boston drivers who commute using the Pike or the tunnels, you get to pay off the Mass Pike's debt.

If you drive from North of Boston on I-93 or if you live on the South Shore and don't drive to Logan everyday, thank the good people of MetroWest and North of Boston because we're covering your debt. Not our debt - your debt. You benefit the most from the Big Dig, but we get to pay for it.

In a 4 to 1 vote, the Mass Pike Board approved plans to up tolls. The toll increases will go into effect in either February or March 2009, after some public hearings and a final vote. If you are upset about this, we urge you to contact your local state rep and your local state senator and voice your concerns.

The toll increases will be as follows:
  • Tolls at Weston and Allston-Brighton increase from $1.25 to $2.00. If you have a Fast Lane transponder, your toll will only be $1.50.
  • The Airport tunnels increase from $3.50 to $7.00. For Fast Lane users, the toll will be $6.00.
For those who pay cash at the tolls (which I really just don't get - go out and get a Fast Lane or EZ-Pass transponder), your tolls increase $.75 at Allston-Brighton and Weston and $3.50 for the airport tunnels.

People are enraged. Check out the comments on the Boston.com article.

I do live in MetroWest. To get technical, I live in the Blackstone Valley. I moved back to the Valley because it is my home. Also, for the most part, I've worked outside of the city. I did commute into Boston on the commuter rail, but I've also commuted to Waltham (on 128) and to Providence. Not everyone has a job in the city, so I'm sick and tired of listening to people say "you should move closer to the city." If I lived in Boston, I would have an extremely long and expensive reverse commute to MetroWest.

From a commuting standpoint, those of us who live West of the city really do get hosed. We either have to deal with an insane amount of traffic getting to jobs along 495 or 128 or we have to deal with unending train delays. There is no perfect system, but it would be nice to see transportation costs evenly distributed across the Commonwealth - at least to those communities North and South of Boston.

I think a gas tax makes sense, but I could see why it would be argued down. A lot of people live in Western Mass - is it really fair to ask them to pay for the Big Dig? The Big Dig directly benefited downtown Boston and surrounding towns.

I'm at the point right now where I think Fred Salvucci, the matermind behind the Big Dig, should be brought up on charges for deceiving a Commonwealth. This project was gross negligence. It artificially boosted our state's economy by causing an enormous amount of revenue from the project to come into the Commonwealth. Think about all the people the project employed, the cost of materials, etc.

The irony is - even with the Dig, traffic isn't any better. We spent all this money, got to see some cool engineering feats, and driving in and around Boston is still a cluster.

Why can't a gas tax on gas sold within the geographic area of the Big Dig come into play? Why aren't we seeing other solutions to this revenue problem?

South Shore residents and those North of the city who commute on I-93 are the big winners, along with New Hampshire and Rhode Island residents. For everyone else, I guess we know where we stand in this Commonwealth.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Um.... buddy...

As a Bostonian I can say traffic is vastly better in and around Boston's thruways due to the big dig. Please refrain from commenting on that which you know not.

Sure, the old colonial like surface roads are still a mess, but that's what we get for never burning out city to the ground.

MassDriver said...

Ummm ... yeah anonymous, I've driven the roads of Boston. IN fact, I drove 93 the other night and sat in traffic from the time I left my office at 5:15 until I arrived at my destination at 7:20. So, how exactly did the big did improve Boston traffic?