BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts needs a new statewide transportation policy and they need it now. That was the message stated loud and clear at The Mayors and Municipal Leaders Transportation Summit held Monday, June 11, at the main concourse of South Station as commuters started to head home.
Lisa Wong came from Fitchburg to speak along with Kim Driscoll of Salem and of course Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who was introduced as The Hub’s Big Wheel, for his successful Hubway bicycle program now in its second year.
The introduction was delivered by Joe Curtatone of Somerville, Chair of the Metro Mayors Coalition with two panels chaired by Jay Ash, Chelsea City Manager and Vice-Chair of the Coalition.
Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey also delivered remarks representing Governor Patrick.
The Summit was sponsored by The Metro Mayors Coalition, The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Massachusetts Municipal Association, the North Shore Coalition, Transportation for Massachusetts, Our Transportation Future and A Better City.
Secretary Davey said that MBTA ridership was at its highest numbers since 1946, but a deficit of over $150 million needed action on Beacon Hill to help close the gap before the end of the month. Otherwise cutbacks in service would take place.
“It’s paying to mow the lawn on the highways on a credit card,” said Davey referring to needed maintenance not taking place, or being paid for at some future date.
“The MBTA deficit has to be closed and this has to be done now,” said Mayor Menino.
He also noted that the long-term transportation challenges of Massachusetts had to be solved.
One interesting new statistic presented at The Summit was that Boston has 917 miles of roads that need to be maintained.
The loudest applause of the afternoon took place when former Governor Mike Dukakis was introduced. Long an advocate of mass transportation and rail service, Dukakis was Governor in November of 1989 when South Station completed a renovation.
“We could not have had this type of event here 25 years ago with water coming though the roof and the place was falling apart,” said Dukakis in a brief interview.
Thomas McGee, State Senator from Lynn and co-chair of The Joint Committee on Transportation, stayed for the entire Summit and said he would carry the message back to the Legislature.
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