All aboard the private funding train
As state transportation officials flip over couch cushions to find money to fix, improve, and expand public transit, there may be a new template for funding some projects hiding in plain sight: private developers. Quel suprise!
The Boston Landing commuter rail station in Brighton opened Tuesday, on time and on budget. How, you may ask, did the ever-embattled MBTA achieve such a thing? By having New Balance pay for the $20 million project as part of the sneaker company’s development of its worldwide headquarters project and the booming growth around its Guest Street neighborhood.
“There certainly has been plans to bring back commuter rail service to this neighborhood,” Keith Craig, director of New Balance Development Group, tells Greater Boston. “But with an owner like New Balance, there was a way we could make it happen faster.”
As T officials scramble to restart the long-stalled Green Line extension, they can point to the benefits Brighton will be getting by having its first commuter rail stop in decades that will draw shoppers, workers, and new residents to the old manufacturing area.
Cambridge and Somerville have agreed to pony up a combined $75 million toward the $2.3 billion Green Line Extension project but officials are still trying to hit up businesses along the new seven-stop extension who will benefit from the added access.
The idea for private investments in public transit is certainly not new, just generally unfulfilled. It’s called “value capture,” but not everyone is on board with the idea.
“It’s a nice treat,” writes Boston Globe columnist Dante Ramos. “What it isn’t is a model for how the T should generate revenue in the future. A good transit network needs a predictable stream of money for operations and continuing improvements.”
Transportation advocates agree, saying not all neighborhoods attract massive development projects such as Boston Landing or Kendall Square.
“Most of the network will not have large employers or huge real estate development that can fund this type of partnership,” Josh Fairchild of Transit Matters, who does a regular transportation podcast for CommonWealth alongside former transportation secretary James Aloisi, told Greater Boston. “I don’t think it’s going to be the majority, or even a new model, for what we’re going to see because it simply can’t fund the entire network. There’s only so many opportunities for it to be feasible.”
But that’s not the same as saying funding isn’t necessary. Fairchild, Aloisi, and others say the aging system needs more revenue and the only place that it will come from is government, whether it’s federal, state, or local.
But Boston Landing may be altering the paradigm. Because it’s a one-time deal doesn’t mean a whole bunch of other one-time deals can’t be made. The MBTA is in discussions with Harvard to upgrade transit in Allston and Wynn Resorts has offered to subsidize Orange Line service for increased stops near the Everett casino.
The Globe uncovers more than a half dozen patronage hires in the state environment department of people with strong ties to Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, or environmental secretary Matthew Beaton.
The Senate approves a budget amendment reining in state subsidies for movie star paychecks. (CommonWealth)
A Herald editorial criticizes the Senate for putting the kibosh on a sales tax holiday this summer.
Drivers urge the Department of Public Utilities to limit the reach of background checks for those seeking jobs with companies such as Uber and Lyft. (CommonWealth)
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia unveiled his new $280 million budget that fully funds the city’s schools, adds police and fire, and provides money for new police cruisers. It also includes a 2.5 percent property tax increase but no new fees. (Herald News)
British authorities have identified the suicide bomber in the Manchester concert attack that killed at least 22 people as an British-born citizen who was the son of Libyan immigrants. (New York Times) ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack but officials have yet to confirm the connection. (U.S. News & World Report)
President Trump’s budget proposal eliminates or sharply reduces funding for a wide variety of programs. (Boston Globe) Reaction in Massachusetts to Trump’s budget was strongly negative and bipartisan. (State House News) Tucked inside the budget is a new proposal to punish sanctuary cities. (Governing)
The percentage of uninsured residents would shoot up in Massachusetts under the Trump health care bill, according to a new study. (Boston Globe)
Is Trump losing it? “He was not always so linguistically challenged,” reports Stat News.
William Coleman III tries to run for two Worcester City Council seats at the same time, but the city’s Elections Commission nixes that. (MassLive)
Two candidates — one Republican and one independent — have announced plans to move into the 10th Plymouth District to challenge state Rep. Michelle DuBois of Brockton, who made a splash nationwide when she posted a warning to illegal immigrants to stay inside because of a rumored raid by federal officials. (The Enterprise)
With yesterday’s 5 pm deadline to submit nominating signatures passed, the Globe has a rundown of who cleared the first hurdle to appear on the fall ballot for Boston mayor and City Council seats.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is not happy about talk from state officials of redeveloping land originally set aside for expansion of the Summer Street convention center for non-exhibition uses. (Boston Globe)
Fidelity Investments chairman Abigail Johnson makes a rare public speech, touting the virtues of bitcoin and other digital currency systems.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is pushing Greater New Bedford Vocational-Technical High School to change its admission policies to accept a wider range of students in the wake of a CommonWealth story that spotlighted the selective admission policies of voc-tech schools around the state. (Standard-Times)
Attorney General Maura Healey appears to be investigating racial incidents at Easthampton High School. (MassLive)
Students at Milton Academy stage a sit-in to protest what they say are a series of racist acts at the tony private school that have gone unsanctioned by administrators. (Boston Globe)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, made a visit and a donation Tuesday to Quincy High School, where Chan was the valedictorian of the class of 2003. (Patriot Ledger)
Education reform is facing a big disconnect between policy designers and doers, says Todd Gazda, the superintendent of the Ludlow Public Schools. (CommonWealth)
The all-boys Boston College High School puts on hold any talk of the Catholic school going co-ed. (Boston Globe)
New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald says six overdose deaths have been traced to an extremely powerful synthetic drug called carfentanil, which is typically used to tranquilize elephants. (Associated Press)
Despite banning lead paint 40 years ago, thousands of children in Massachusetts continue to test positive every year for heightened levels of lead in their blood and only 17 percent of homes built before 1978 have been tested for lead paint. (Wicked Local)
An editorial in the Berkshire Eagle says there may be common ground on dueling bills in the Legislature that would create a new profession of dental technician akin to nurse practitioner. CommonWealth recently had a Codcast with advocates on both sides debating the measures.
A pilot program on Cape Cod where patients were “prescribed” fruits and veggies by doctors and given vouchers for farmers’ markets will be expanded this year after results showed reduced weight, waistlines, and cholesterol levels of those who participated. (Cape Cod Times)
The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce tells lawmakers it supports a study of a high-speed rail link between western Massachusetts and Boston. (MassLive)
After years of battles, the federal flood zone maps for Quincy have been finalized, allowing thousands of homeowners to shed or reduce their costly insurance. (Patriot Ledger)
Framingham officials signed a 20-year net metering deal with a Boston-based solar developer to purchase energy credits from a planned project at a Canton MBTA parking lot where solar panels will be installed on a carport roof. (MetroWest Daily News)
Boston police say they are upping the focus of gang unit officers on city “hot spots” in an effort to seize guns and get ahead of potential trouble during the usually more violent summer months. (Boston Herald)
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum doubled to $10 million the reward it is offering for information leading to the return of 13 art works, including several priceless masterpieces, stolen in 1990 in the biggest art heist in history. (Boston Globe)
MEDIAStat, the medicine and health news site backed by the Boston Globe, says it is on the path to 10,000 subscribers, each paying $299 a year. (Digiday)
Fox News’s retraction on its Seth Rich story is woefully inadequate. (Poynter)