The Codcast: Salvucci, Aloisi liken Pollack to Sargent

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack is being likened by two of her predecessors to former governor Frank Sargent for her decision to replace the elevated section of the Massachusetts Turnpike between Boston University and Allston with an at-grade version. Sargent 50 years ago called a halt to the proposed inner belt highway that would have continued the state’s auto-centric approach to transportation and carved up many of Boston’s neighborhoods.

On the Codcast hosted by TransitMatters members Jim Aloisi and Josh Fairchild, former state transportation secretaries Fred Salvucci and Aloisi praised Pollack for deciding not to follow conventional wisdom and rebuild the elevated section of the Turnpike as is, which would have maintained the Pike as a de facto wall separating one part of Boston from another.

“The Allston neighborhood had already been destroyed by the Turnpike,” said Salvucci, who grew up in Brighton. “This is a chance for the first time in more than a half century to fix the huge mistake, the blunder, that was made at that time.”

Salvucci said Pollack took the key initial step, deciding the state would not repeat its earlier mistake. But Salvucci said Pollack must now follow Sargent’s lead and invest in public transportation options. Where Sargent used the money he saved by not building the inner belt to extend the Red Line to Alewife, to relocate the Orange Line, and to revamp the commuter rail system, Salvucci and Aloisi said Pollack now has to build support for measures that will get people out of their cars and into alternative types of transportation.

“This is perhaps the most significant regional mobility opportunity to face us in a long, long time,” Aloisi said.

The two former secretaries say the 10-year construction timeline for rebuilding the Turnpike will impact a wide swath of the region. “It is going to be miserable to take an automobile from the west into the city. It is going to be miserable for the people in the automobiles from the western suburbs. It’s going to be miserable for people in Allston and Brighton and Cambridge because that’s where the autos are going to spill into,” said Salvucci. “So there’s a potential for unification of these constituencies to insist on the delivery of the kind of regional rail solutions that Secretary Pollack is actually exploring right now. So the table is set for some really positive decisions to come out of this initial very good decision.”

Harry Mattison, an Allston resident who has played an influential role in the long-running discussions about Turnpike reconstruction, said his community is a choke point for some 200,000 people a day coming into the city from the west or trying to go north-south between Dudley and Longwood and Harvard Square.

“The status quo is already horrible,” said Mattison, “and it’s getting worse and worse. In a couple years, when this construction starts, it’s going to go through the roof.”

Salvucci said state officials need to do the same kind of public outreach they did in the early stages of the Big Dig. Out of those meetings came ideas for the Hingham-to-Boston ferry and park-and-ride lots on the South Shore, Salvucci said.  “A lot of those ideas built new habits,” Salvucci said. “We need to begin that now [for Allston].”

The transit advocates say the key to building new habits is the proposed West Station, which would serve as a commuter rail stop on the Worcester Line, a possible rail link to Kendall Square and North Station, and a bus link to points south (Boston University) and north (Harvard Square and beyond). They all said commuter rail service should operate all day long on the Worcester Line and not just during the morning and evening peak.

Pollack originally said she thought West Station could wait until 2040 when Harvard University’s development plans in the area (the school owns most of the land) are better known. But when she announced her decision on a design for the elevated section of the Turnpike, she indicated she was open to moving the timetable up.

Salvucci, who teaches at MIT, said the university gathers extensive information on the travel habits of its employees. He said the data indicate people from Acton (close to 20 miles away) are far more likely to ride public transportation to work than residents of nearby Newton. From Acton, MIT employees can ride the Fitchburg commuter rail line to Porter Square and from there take the Red Line to MIT. There is no similar connecting point for Newton residents, so more of them drive.

“West Station effectively is the Porter Square of the network. It allows people to get off of one vehicle and make other public transportation choices, some of them by bus and some of them by rail,” Salvucci said. “People make these decisions individually one at a time. You’ve got to start giving them options now. It already is terrible enough, but it is going to get worse. So you’ve got to start giving them options now to create those possibilities for the future.”



A bill dealing with foundation education budget funding is filed quietly by the House, which seems content to take a back seat — at least publicly — to the governor and the Senate. (CommonWealth) A Berkshire Eagle editorial says the governor’s foundation budget proposal comes up short.

Frank Callahan of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council says the attorney general’s office is falling behind in fighting wage theft and legislation to provide the office with more staff must pass. (CommonWealth)

Michael Widmer decries the state’s Kafkaesque health care assessment. (CommonWealth)

Carolyn Villers of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council says 40,000 Bay State seniors badly need health care help. (CommonWealth)

A Globe editorial applauds Gov. Charlie Baker’s bill to strengthen judge’s ability to hold suspects deemed dangerous before they go on trial.

Inspired by a similar initiative in Vermont, Longmeadow Sen. Eric Lesser wants to pay people up to $10,000 over two years to move to the often sparsely populated western Massachusetts counties of Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin. (WGBH News)


Negotiators have agreed on a framework for a peace agreement between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the US, which would end the longest war effort in US history. (New York Times)

Unless the bill is amended to include the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, Tribal Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais opposes legislation filed by Congressmen William Keating and Joseph Kennedy III to grant a reservation to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. (WGBH News)

Edward M. Murphy explores our Know Nothing heritage on immigration. (CommonWealth)

A Herald editorial pans Elizabeth Warren’s proposed tax on the super wealthy.


Elizabeth Warren’s strategy for standing out in a crowded Democratic primary field: “nerding out.” (New York Times)

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James Lyons, the new chairman of the Republican State Committee, hobnobbed among the elite members of his party as Ron Kaufman introduced him around the Republican National Committee’s Winter Meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (WGBH News)


Environmental lawyer Bill Golden, a former state senator, is listing for sale the Nantucket Lightship — docked in Boston Harbor — that he and his wife purchased from the state for $126,100 nearly two decades ago. The couple invested millions of dollars upgrading the 128-foot boat into a luxurious home, which is now on the market for $5.2 million. (Wall Street Journal)

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Bob Hildreth says the college bubble is starting to burst. (CommonWealth)

Using UMass Boston as his example, Jeff Jones of Capstone Development offers up a blueprint for building college dorms. (CommonWealth)

The Sunday Globe asks why Boston, booming with development and tax revenue, can’t seem to fund its schools adequately.

Former town administrator Michael Embury is the sixth to resign from what was once a 15-member Nauset Regional High School Building Committee. Embury resigned from his post as Brewster town administrator in June amid questions about town finances. (Cape Cod Times)

The Lowell Sun recounts the recent history of Lowell’s shifting school district leadership, which included an alleged threat of dismemberment made by a School Committee member. Acting Superintendent Jeannine Durkin has decided not to seek the position on a permanent basis.

José Bou, who works to reduce student absences in the Holyoke Public School system, received his college education in prison, where he received some crucial encouragement from his music history professor. (WBUR News)


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Zoning bylaws may be changing in Plymouth to allow a 15-acre plot of solar-arrays. (Brockton Enterprise)


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