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Davey defends transportation plan, renews commitment to Green Line extension

Posted by Jarret Bencks  March 6, 2013 09:41 PM

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Transportation Secretary Richard Davey gave strong backing to the Green Line Extension Project and touted Deval Patrick's new transportation plan in  Medford Wednesday.

Speaking at a transportation forum cosponsored by the Medford Chamber of Commerce and local legislators, Davey said Patrick's plan, which would require an infusion of about $1 billion in annual taxes and fees, would improve the current transportation system and pay off debt resulting from funding transit through bonds, a habit he called "shameful."

"We need to make the case together that this is the time to invest in transportation," he said.

From the podium in a room on the fifth floor of Century Bank's headquarters on Mystic Avenue, where the forum was held at about 6 p.m., Davey had a clear view of rush hour traffic creeping north along Interstate 93.

"Some might say, 'Now is not the time to raise taxes,' it's never the right time to raise taxes," he said. "But it's also never the right time to be sitting in that traffic, or sitting on that broken-down Red Line train."

"Reform is not enough."

Patrick's plan calls for the replacement of trains on the Orange Line that have been in circulation since 1979 and trains on the Red Line operating since 1969.

"Those should have been in a museum 10 years ago," Davey said.

State Senator Patricia Jehlen, who coordinated Wednesday's event, said it would be up to the Legislature to figure out how to raise revenue for transportation.

"We need revenue and it needs to come from somewhere," she said, "and if it isn't from taxes, it is going to be fare increases."

On Tuesday, MBTA officials said the authority would require 33 percent fare increases if it didn't receive more funding.

On the Green Line extension, a project that broke ground last year and intends to extend the line through Somerville to a terminal stop in Medford by 2020, Davey said: "We are absolutely committed to getting that project done."

His stance was not as strong on a community path for pedestrians and bicyclists along the extension.

"I think it would be a shame to build the Green Line extension without the community path, to be honest, but we've got to find a way to fund it," he said.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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