Politicians Demand Transportation Funding
By Sarah Birnbaum
June 11, 2012
BOSTON — Massachusetts officials, local mayors and advocates rallied on June 11 in Boston’s South Station for a solution to the state's transportation funding crisis.
State transportation secretary Richard Davey headlined the rally, saying that bridges, roads and transit systems across the state were crumbling and in need of updates and repair. “The current transportation system we have today we cannot afford and the kind of improved system we all want we cannot afford,” he said.
State transportation agencies are saddled with debt — most of it from the Big Dig. 45 percent of the state transportation budget goes to the debt burden. Transportation officials have said they need new sources of revenue for maintenance and new infrastructure. But raising the gas tax or hiking tolls have been political nonstarters. and Lawmakers in Western and Central Massachusetts are reluctant to dedicate tax dollars to Boston-area roads and bridges, and vice versa.
Still Gov. Deval Patrick, local mayors and outside groups are upping pressure on lawmakers to take action.
“We’ve allowed ourselves to be divided by region, divided by mode," said Somerville mayor Joe Curtatone. "In a battle over dwindling resources, suburbs have been pitted against cities. Rural communities have been pitted against urban areas. Drivers have been pitted against rail and transit users. That has got to stop and stop now.”
They’re calling on lawmakers to produce a long-term funding solution in the next legislative session.
WGBH NEWS FOCUS: THE MBTA
About WGBH News Focus: The MBTALove it, like it or lump it, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority touches nearly everyone's lives in eastern Mass. And it's in financial crisis, with newly announced fare hikes not enough to cover next year's projected $100 million budget deficit. WGBH News features special focus coverage of the tracks and troubles of our public transit system.
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.
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