McGee ties transit goals to economic success

January 17, 2013
By Thor Jourgensen/The Daily Item

Projects like a local ferry help businesses and workers, and ignoring a multi-billion dollar state transportation wish list would be bad for the state’s economy, state Sen. Thomas M. McGee says.

Speaking to state and local elected officials in City Hall Wednesday, McGee said Lynn’s waterfront ferry project offers future assurances that commuters will get to work on time, even during winter weather commutes like the one that snarled regional roads on Wednesday.

“On the water, with no wind, a ferry moves on time. It is an essential piece allowing us to be competitive nationally and internationally,” McGee told the group.

Transportation and education are top state spending goals identified by Gov. Deval Patrick as he looks ahead to this year.

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee and state Transportation Planning Office Director David Mohler at Lynn City Hall.
State Sen. Thomas M. McGee and state Transportation Planning Office Director David Mohler at Lynn City Hall. (Item Photo / Thor Jourgensen)

Transportation goals outlined in a new, 63-page state report titled, “The Way Forward” include “… an intensive decade-long period of statewide capital investment …” totaling $13 billion over 10 years.

The money would pay for rapid transit, road, bridge and other kinds of repairs: the report warns the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority alone needs hundreds of millions of dollars annually to continue serving riders.

“We’re not willing to stand pat,” state Office of Transportation Planning Director David Mohler said Wednesday.

McGee said the Blossom Street extension ferry project is poised to move into a year-long third phase that will include pier construction, a parking lot with lighting and other improvements. The work also includes improvements to the public boat landing.

“It will be transformative in terms of what that area used to look like,” he said.

McGee spent months attending public hearings where participants, including Lynn residents who attended a meeting last December, listed transportation improvement priorities. He said the state cannot afford to spend, on average, $1 billion less than it needs to on transportation improvements.

The state report calls for $1 billion alone in spending on local roads — an amount translating into an annual 50 percent increase in tax dollars spent on making roads smoother and safer for city and town residents and business customers.

“We are at a point where we can’t ignore what we need to do now for transportation,” McGee said.

Revere’s new parking garage is highlighted in “The Way Forward” with the report calling the North Shore Road structure “ … an economic turning point for Revere.”

Paid for with state and federal money and opened last June, the garage has parking for vehicles and bicycles, and abuts waterfront land where Mayor Daniel Rizzo last week said a developer is “very close” to formally announcing plans to build a hotel and apartment complex.

Rizzo said the two projects will probably be enhanced by the opening of eight to 10 restaurants situated around a public plaza planned for construction near the garage.

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at

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