Business executives call on Beacon Hill to act boldly to fix state’s tattered transportation network
CEOs, civic group warn of the perils to state’s economy
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Among the many large and small impacts, consider Greenfield Community College’s new programs to prepare workers for careers in the expanding energy-efficiency/alternative energy fields, said Dan O’Connell, president of the CEO partnership and a former state housing and economic development secretary. To reach the campus, potential students from Springfield without cars must rely on a patchwork of indirect buses and travel two hours each way , he said.
Past debates have sometimes pitted Greater Boston against the rest of the state, and highways against transit. Success this legislative session hinges on making the case statewide and across transportation modes, O’Connell said, recognizing that it’s never easy to raise taxes.
“At a time when resources are tight and the appetite for new revenue at the state level is also tight, we thought that making the case for targeted investment in transportation infrastructure was a case that our group should be associated with,” he said.
The report, prepared by the global infrastructure firm AECOM , will be released in full later this week, but the group shared a 17-page summary with the transportation secretary and the Globe.
Davey said it lends new numbers to a case the administration is already making.
“What the governor’s been saying the last couple years about transportation is that we need to invest in transportation not for transportation’s sake but because it’s the backbone of the economy,” he said, citing as an example the catalyzing effect of $3 million to improve Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport, which triggered a $20 million Gulfstream investment in a maintenance hangar that will sustain more than 100 new jobs.
And along the Mystic River, the state’s roughly $22 million investment in a new Orange Line station at Assembly Square is widely viewed as the linchpin in a $1.5 billion private redevelopment of the windswept former manufacturing site.
With more revenue, the state could invest in more such projects, as well as necessary repairs, Davey said.
AECOM, which has worked on similar reports for other regions, calculated the cost to the economy of failing to repair and maintain the highway system at $18 billion to $26 billion over the next two decades, using a model developed by the Federal Highway Administration and vetted by the US Government Accountability Office. The estimate of the multiplier effect of investing in infrastructure was determined using a Bureau of Economic Analysis model.
Martin Wachs, emeritus professor of planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the models are standard and the estimates appear credible and may even be considered conservative, given that they do not include transit.
“I thought the numbers were quite plausible, and not in any way alarmist,” said Wachs, who reviewed the report summary for the Globe. “They were accurate representations of the situation that many [states and regions] face.”
Michael Levenson of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Eric Moskowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.