Also, kudos to Governor Patrick for his new press releases to bloggers (as promised during his meeting with us in Boston last Saturday) - it's nice to actually be able to report on a story before the Globe! Woot, woot.
Enough of the glowing Patrick praise, he's going to earn his weight in gold if he can figure out the Bay State's way out of this mess. It's Sink or Swim, Governor... or should I say Sink and Swim, given the state of our state's bridges? Everyone knew our infrastructural needs were bad, but I don't think many had any idea they were this scary:
The projected $15 billion to $19 billion shortfall over the next 20 years, up from prior estimates of $9.5 billion to $15.7 billion, is a conservative calculation, commission members said.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation does not have the money or expertise to maintain and fix Storrow Drive, Soldiers Field Road, Longfellow Bridge, and its other roads and bridges.
Yikes. I don't know what's scarier: the fact that one of the best ways to get around Boston in a car is falling into major disrepair - or the fact that the Department of Conservation and Recreation is in charge of Storrow Drive? Of course they don't have the expertise (or the money). Let's put it in the hands of some organization that does - there must be some kind of organization in Massachusetts that's in charge of keeping track of the highways, with lots of experts and personnel. Oh, yes, that's right - the Massachusetts Highway Department. Who'd a thought?
Fixing the Bay State's infrastructure is a must: everything depends on it, from jobs to entertainment. Yet, the revenue has to come from somewhere. The Massachusetts state gas tax is fairly low compared to other states in the region, but even a modest gas-tax increase would be difficult to pass. Furthermore, I'm not so sure it's the best solution anyway: there are lots of pros and cons (it's not a very progressive tax, but we need revenue for our state's roads and curbing mileage has environmental benefits). So what do readers think? How to we bridge this gap?