Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Renewed Focus on Crumbling Transportation Systems

Patrick Administration Pledges Renewed Focus on Crumbling Transportation Systems

$15-$19 Billion Backlog Cited in Transportation Commission Report


BOSTON – Wednesday, March 28, 2007—Following the release of the Transportation Finance Commission Report, Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of Transportation and Public Works Bernard Cohen today called for a renewed focus on our transportation systems in the Commonwealth.

“The Transportation Finance Commission’s report shines a spotlight on the scope of the challenges we face. Make no mistake, my administration is committed to addressing those challenges now,” said Governor Patrick. “Investment in our transportation infrastructure is critical if we want to grow our economy. The hundreds of companies we are actively engaged with to expand or relocate to Massachusetts consistently cite infrastructure as an impediment to future growth in the state. We can no longer defer or delay. We must begin solving our transportation troubles now if are to succeed in a global economy.”

The report released today found a $15-$19 billion shortfall in funding for transportation over the next 20 years. “The condition of our roads, bridges, and transit systems are all in broad decline,” the report says. “Our transportation agencies do not have the resources to do their jobs properly.” The Commission took into account a full range of transportation needs, including funding for state highways, public transportation, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s bridge and parkway program, and Chapter 90 funding for cities and towns.

“What this bi-partisan panel found, after more than two years of investigation, is that there is a significant gap between the financial resources we have and the resources we need, just to keep the system in good working condition,” Secretary Cohen said. “The report serves as a long overdue wake up call to state and local government and the business community in Massachusetts that the condition of our highways and transit infrastructure is seriously impaired and that conditions will continue to worsen dramatically unless we change the way we manage and invest in transportation.”

To begin addressing the backlog, Governor Patrick today called on his secretaries, members of the commission, and legislative, transportation, and business leaders to undertake a careful review of the findings and to begin working together in a very public and transparent process to forge a consensus around innovative, long-term solutions to finally address this critical problem.

Earlier this month, the Patrick Administration took a step to address the most immediate transportation needs, when the Governor filed a $1.47 billion bond bill that will re-start the pipeline of important bridge and highway projects that have been stalled for several years. The bill won swift approval by the Legislature.

“This report will serve as the beginning of the discussion on how to solve this problem,” said Governor Patrick. “I believe that whatever solution we agree upon must address some fundamental problems: the lack of coordination between transportation agencies, a narrow base of transportation financing that is unsustainable and inadequate to meet our transportation infrastructure needs, and the neglect of entire regions of the state that must serve as catalysts of statewide economic expansion.”

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