Transportation

The link between a strong transportation network, economic growth, and quality of life is indisputable and of increasing importance in our highly inter-connected world. Numerous studies demonstrate the immense economic benefits of affordable and plentiful public transportation and well-maintained infrastructure. Time and again, all the evidence proves that resources invested in building and maintaining transportation systems yield an enormous return on investment.

 

Yet, here in the Commonwealth – for far too long – the critical needs of maintaining the existing stock of infrastructure and building a world-class transportation system for the 21st century have simply been put on the back shelf.

 

The problems with the T are well-documented, including a $161 million dollar shortfall for this year alone. We are told that this short-term challenge must be met by raising fares, cutting service, or both.  However, this is a false choice. Even after this short-term crisis has passed, we will all be right back in this same spot next year, only the budget gap will be bigger. A staggering percentage of the resources allocated to the T must go to debt service alone.

 

While providing adequate funding for mass transit, we must also support alternative methods of transit such as bicycles. Through relatively inexpensive actions, we can promote bike use and take some cars off the roads. Bike lanes with clear markings, signs for bike routes, and sufficient parking racks can all make biking easier and safer. The bike racks at the Alewife T station are a great start. At the same time, everyone – cars, bikes, and other vehicles – must learn to share the road, so we can all get to our destination safely.

However, in addition to the challenges facing the alternatives to cars, the larger transportation and infrastructure problems in the Commonwealth present a challenge the answer to which will cost in the billions, not millions, of dollars.  For example, the American Society of Civil Engineers did a recent survey in which they noted that many bridges in the Commonwealth are badly in need of repair. Like most public policy problems, these are challenges that must be confronted now before they grow even worse.

 

But you don’t need me to tell you. Just drive or bike around most parts of our district and other parts of the state as well. You will find yourself dodging potholes and bouncing down the road as the suspension on your car is stretched to its limits. Breakdowns and delays on the T are growing ever more common. We can do better.

 

While I will primarily focus on meeting the needs of constituents here in Arlington, Belmont and Cambridge, I believe the real solution lies in addressing the problems of the state transportation network as a whole. This is true because legislators from other parts of the state want to know that the issues facing the Regional Transportation Authorities (RTA) will be met before they will agree to bail out the T. Together, we can work to improve transportation across the state.

 

As your representative, I will work tirelessly to bring all relevant stakeholders to the table to fashion a comprehensive solution to transportation and infrastructure issues. The business community in particular must be engaged to form a private/public solution to this problem. If together we meet this pressing challenge, we will build a transportation system to carry us safely into a prosperous future.