Statehouse testimony on behalf the Metro Mayors Coalition Joint Committee on Transportation

Here is the testimony I gave on behalf the Metro Mayors Coalition at the Statehouse yesterday to the Joint Committee on Transportation:

It is an honor and a privilege to speak before you today on the most pressing issue facing our Commonwealth. Our future economic vitality relies on us rebuilding and reinvigorating our transportation system. It is the challenge of our time, the test facing our generation of leadership.

The reality is we’re still playing catch up after years of neglect, short-sightedness and shortcuts, which only served to deepen the transportation crisis facing Massachusetts.

Thanks to Governor Patrick’s leadership and this Legislature, however, we are now five years, two billion dollars and over 250 retrofitted bridges into a sorely needed accelerated bridge repair program. We have seen reforms to our transportation agencies, their operations and oversight which have saved the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. But we have more to do and a long way to go.

Massachusetts has more than 400 structurally deficient bridges. People commute daily in T cars that came on line back when Bill Russell was still playing for the Celtics. We have a growing list of urgently-needed transportation projects that would benefit every city and town in the Commonwealth that has gone virtually untouched for decades.

The status quo is broken and our state economy will suffer if we don’t fix it. Our current transportation system is crumbling – and when it comes to our future, the future is now. Let me make this point clearly, if we do not address this problem Massachusetts will not be able to compete in the 21st century global economy.

Companies want to tap into our supremely talented workforce, but are hesitant to locate here because of the miserable daily commute to work. Those companies are also reluctant to invest in a state that isn’t willing to invest in itself.

The good news is that MassDOT has laid out a Way Forward for the 21st century transportation infrastructure we need to support the 21st economy the people of this state deserve. You can already see the value of this investment in the city of Somerville.

Within the next year Assembly Square will become the first new T station to open since 1987. More than $1.5 billion of initial private investment is flowing into that 145-acre section of our city. We will see 2,500 housing units and 3 million square feet of commercial development rise up. It translates to 23,000 net new jobs.

The Green Line extension is also underway. I now spend a significant portion of every day talking with companies and developers who want to build in my community because of the opportunity created by finally bringing the Green Line through Somerville.

All tolled, by adding seven new T stations our estimate is it will attract billions in private investment; spur tens of millions of square feet in commercial and residential development; create roughly 30,000 permanent jobs in Somerville, Cambridge and Medford; generate billions of dollars in economic activity every year; and put tens of thousands of construction professionals to work to build it all.

That’s what happens when we stop delaying and start doing. We have the opportunity to invigorate our economy in each and every one of your districts, to pave the roads and lay the tracks that will lead to our next wave of prosperity.

I urge you to seize this opportunity to build the future we desire rather than make due in whatever future happens to us.

I thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing great things in our future here in Massachusetts.