Last updated on November 20, 2019 at 02:28 pm
Transportation plan for Massachusetts. What’s the right way forward?
This week’s Rush Hour Race got us thinking about our commutes to and from work, and how we get around the city in general. A world-class transportation system is vital to any state’s economy and to our well-being. Companies looking to invest in the Bay State rightfully expect excellent mass transit, railways and roads that allow for their employees, services and goods to travel easily and quickly within, to, and from Massachusetts.
The Commonwealth’s infrastructure is in need of upgrading, but in a post-Big Dig world, how will we ultimately pay for it? And how much are residents and businesses willing to cough up for a viable plan, the final results of which we may not see (or appreciate) for years?
The cost of doing nothing may be too costly to contemplate. While people balk at raising a billion dollars a year through 2023 to pay for Governor Patrick’s proposed $13 billion transportation overhaul, we may be past the point of saying “we can’t afford it.” The system’s current rate of disrepair means that maintaining the status quo will lead to further and more costly repairs in the future.
A report prepared by AECOM (PDF) for the Boston Foundation and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership points out that letting the system continue on the same path will increase “operating costs for cars, trucks and railroads and heighten the likelihood of crashes—translating into costs associated with property damage, injury and loss of life.”
The AECOM report also notes that longer travel times and greater congestion drain “valuable time from productive work or the non-work activities that support a high quality of life.”
Continuing down the same path will cost us dearly, in more ways than you might think. AECOM estimates that by 2030 the price to maintain the current crumbling system will soar between $18.8 billion and $27.6 billion (in today’s dollars), with possibly 12,300-15,600 jobs lost—a cost far higher than the Governor’s proposed $13 billion outlay (even with inevitable overrides).
To stay competitive in a rapidly changing global economy, Massachusetts has to act quickly. What do you think the Commonwealth should do?
The Backstory: slightly longer but equally fascinating reads related to this post
- Focus: MA transportation finance, Northeastern University, Dukakis Center for Regional and Urban Policy website, various links & reports
- Read the AECOM report: The Cost of Doing Nothing: The Economic Case for Transportation Investment in Massachusetts, PDF
- “State Senate Passes $300M Transportation Bond Bill” Bret Silverberg, Patch.com
- “Four Plans to Fund Massachusetts Transportation” Bret Silverberg, Patch.com
- “Pay now or really pay later for transportation” Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe op-ed
- “Mass. gets scaled-back transportation plan” Martine Powers/Boston Globe
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