Massachusetts officials, local mayors and advocates rallied in Boston’s South Station today for a solution to the state’s transportation funding crisis. State Transportation Secretary Richard Davey headlined the rally. He says bridges, roads and transit systems across the state are crumbling and in need of updates and repair.
“The current transportation system we have today we cannot afford and the kind of improved system we all want we cannot afford.”
State transportation agencies are saddled with debt – most of it from the Big Dig. Forty-five percent of the state transportation budget goes to the debt burden. Transportation officials say they need new sources of revenue for maintenance and new infrastructure. But raising the gas tax or hiking tolls have been political nonstarters. And Lawmakers in Western and Central Massachusetts are reluctant to dedicate tax dollars to Boston-area roads and bridges, and vice-versa.
Still Governor Deval Patrick, local mayors and outside groups are upping pressure on lawmakers to take action. Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone:
“We’ve allowed ourselves to be divided by region, divided by mode. And in a battle over dwindling resources, suburbs have been pitted against cities. Rural communities have been pitted against urban areas. Drivers have been pitted against rail and transit users. That has got to stop and stop now!”
They’re calling on lawmakers to produce a long-term funding solution in the next Legislative session, beginning in 2013.