The Route to GrowthApril 2, 2015
April 2, 2015
Yesterday, business leaders and local officials stood behind a new report called The Route to Growth showing that our state’s economic growth depends not only on reforming and modernizing the MBTA, but targeted expansion.
Here’s an example. Merrimack Valley Planning Commission Director Dennis DiZoglio highlighted a segment of the Haverhill commuter rail line where there is only one track, creating a bottleneck for trains. Building double tracks in that location will cost about $35 million, but will instantly double the capacity of the commuter rail line serving a large swath of the Merrimack Valley. That’s expansion, but it’s also a smart investment that leverages our existing system better.
Another recent example: Building a new Orange Line station at Assembly Square cost the state about $29 million but is leveraging private investment of more than a billion dollars and creation of thousands of jobs. That’s smart expansion.
Similarly, the Green Line extension will drive new investment to under-served areas and bring tens of thousands of residents within walking distance of rail. Expansion of South Station seems like another expensive Boston project, until you realize that it is needed to improve rail service throughout New England. There is simply no place to put the trains that need to run through Boston.
More controversially, South Coast Rail is a $2 billion proposed expansion project. Expensive, yes, but it will help connect an entire region of our state to the global economy. Is it worth it? The residents and leaders of Fall River, New Bedford, Taunton, and surrounding communities think so.
Perhaps the bigger question is: why do we spend less than 4% of our state budget on transportation ($1.6 billion out of a total $41.4 billion), when it is so key to jobs, housing, the environment, and quality of life?
Read the Report: The Route to Growth