It is a critical time to let your legislators know that you want a real solution to the state’s transportation finance situation to address current fiscal needs, meet needed Chapter 90 funds for cities and towns, address state of good repair needs, procure needed new equipment and fund the Green Line extension.
STEP has written the following letter, which anyone is more than welcome to use, modify, or add to.
Please take a few minutes to email or call Senator McGee and Rep. Straus, co-chairs of the transportation, committee and your legislators. Some useful email addresses:
I/we appreciate the attention that has been focused by the Senate and House Joint Ways and Means Committee on the Commonwealth’s transportation finance problems. However, it is extremely disappointing to see that the proposed transportation plan does not realistically address both the transportation funds that are needed and any investment in any long-term capital plans. The Legislature’s proposal is another band-aid approach to solve the immediate MBTA debt crisis and reverse the use of bond funds for payroll for one year. It ignores the needed and legally mandated capital improvements and replacement of vehicles that have gone well beyond their useful lives.
This proposal locks in many more years of chronic under-funding for our bridges, roads, public transportation, sidewalks, and bike paths and will lead to further decline of our transportation system. We already know how poorly the band-aid approach works; we’ve lived with it for years and one can see evidence of it everywhere.
People want good roads, safe bridges, safe transit vehicles, and a transportation system that promotes the economic development needed across the Commonwealth in the 21st century. Citizens and organizations around the Commonwealth have come together to tell Beacon Hill to fix the problem now. The Legislature’s current plan is inadequate for repairing roads, bridges, and maintaining and expanding rail service. This is not a time for another band-aid approach.
In order to obtain federal New Starts funding for the MBTA’s Green Line Extension, the Commonwealth has to show that a large amount of new state transportation funding is available to address the state of good repair and operating deficits. Otherwise, the state will be saddled with paying for the entire construction of the Extension within the state. At a time when other states are eagerly building new transit systems to meet public demand and fuel their economic growth, why would the Legislature want to deliberately suffocate the MBTA’s ability to run its day-to-day operation, infrastructure upkeep, and also sabotage an opportunity to obtain New Starts funding? Ignoring this opportunity would ensure that funds for the Green Line Extension (a legal obligation per the federal Clean Air Act) would be diverted from other projects and from ‘state of good repair’ needs. This makes no sense. Where is the vision for a solid transportation plan? How does this proposal support MassDOT’s stated commitment to a 21st century transportation mode-shift and reduction of green house gases?
We need a real solution to end the crisis facing our transportation system. The legislative funding plan is detrimental to the future of the Commonwealth. This insufficient proposal is an insult to its citizens who rely on having good roads, bridges and transit every day. The gridlock over the transportation finance plan reflects the resistance in Beacon Hill to serve the needs of our communities because of personal animosity among the leadership. This gridlock is at the expense of solving a transportation fiscal problem that has huge impact on the economical health and future growth of MA.
The public is looking to the Governor and the Legislature to at least meet in the middle which would show bold action and leadership to realistically meet the MBTA’s deficit, “state of good repair,” provide adequate Chapter 90 funding and make critical investments in our future.
Thank you for your consideration.
Ellin Reisner, President
Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership