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Mass. Gov. Favouring Public Transit


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Romney favoring public transit

Rte. 3 widening called unlikely

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff, 2/11/2004

Announcing his $1.1 billion transportation spending bill yesterday, Governor Mitt Romney said that he favors train service over highway-widening projects, and suggested the state is unlikely to go forward with the addition of lanes on Route 3 on the South Shore.

"Greenbush has the effect of adding a lane to Route 3," Romney said, referring to the commuter line along the South Shore now set to be built. "The prospect of widening highways is a nonstarter. The cost is prohibitive."

Romney said his administration is currently ranking major transportation projects according to their priority, though the list is not ready to be released. He said he supports projects including the Silver Line, commuter rail to New Bedford and Fall River, a Blue Line extension to Lynn, and the Urban Ring, a transit route through and around Boston. The governor did not say how those projects, which add up to billions of dollars, would be paid for, other than that the state would be "highly dependent" on federal funding.

Romney said he favors public transit over new or widened highways that promote sprawl-style development, citing his recent visit to Houston for the Super Bowl as an "eyeful" and an example of "what happens when you don't have zoning. We don't want to see strip mall after strip mall. We want to see lovely town centers and villages."

Environmental groups lashed out at the governor for not having a more detailed blueprint. The Sierra Club issued a statement saying the bond bill and the administration's transportation planning thus far lacked vision and innovation.

The addition of a lane in each direction on Route 3 from Weymouth to Duxbury, estimated to cost $180 million, has been considered since the 1980s to relieve overcrowding. Told of Romney's remarks yesterday, Terry Fancher, general manager of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, said the project might not have to be done right away, but would be needed in 10 years.

"If you're going to talk about a new way to get over to Cape Cod, widening has got to be part of the plans," he said, referring to Romney's proposal to build a $35 million rotary flyover from Route 3 to the Sagamore Bridge. "Once you drop a project out, it's virtually impossible to get it back," he added.

The widening of Route 3 through the South Shore would follow the addition of lanes in each direction on Route 3 from Burlington to the New Hampshire line, a $375 million project nearing completion, and the $200 million add-a-lane project on Route 128 from Wellesley to Randolph, which started late last year.

The governor's transportation bond bill calls for an annual investment of $400 million in roadway and bridge projects other than the Big Dig, plus millions more for cities and towns. There is no category of funding to help the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority pay for major capital projects, but Douglas Foy, chief of Commonwealth Development, said roadway money could be "flexed" to pay for transit.

Foy added that the 25-year transportation plan is still nine months to a year away from being completed, because more public input is needed.

From The Boston Globe

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When I read that... I thought wow a Republican governor favoring mass transit... I hope he follows through.

We really need some expansion of our rail lines... I thought Greenbush was a good idea but with limited funds we should now start focusing on the T in Boston. We need new trains, extension of the green and blue lines and urban ring should take priority.

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