Saturday, 2:15 PM
Sources: Patrick plan gives Big Dig to Massport
By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick would get rid of some tolls in the western part of the state and give control of the Big Dig to the agency that runs Logan International Airport under a plan his administration is drafting to eliminate the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, according to three government sources.
Patrick has been working for more than a year to reorganize the stateís troubled transportation agencies. Though some tolls would be eliminated, the tolls closest to Boston within Route 128 would remain. The Turnpike Authority board is set to meet Friday and will discuss raising tolls.
Patrick's long-term goal is to eliminate the turnpike authority and let the Massachusetts Port Authority assume control of the roads inside Route 128, including the Big Dig tunnels. Massport already maintains one toll road, the Tobin Bridge. Under the Patrick plan, Massportís road maintenance and tolling responsibilities would be greatly expanded.
The western Turnpike would still have tolls at the Connecticut and New York borders -- at Stockbridge and Sturbridge -- under the plan, though, others would be eliminated, according to one of the government sources. The Massachusetts Highway Department would take over that portion of the turnpike, under the plan.
All the sources requested anonymity because Patrick has yet to formally unveil the plan.
The sources were not able to explain how the turnpike authorityís $2.2 billion debt would be parceled out. The debt, mostly the result of the Big Dig, has left the agency struggling with a poor credit rating and in need of legislative help to avoid insolvency.
Patrickís plan would need legislative approval.