Imagining the transportation nightmares of Cape Cod and Western Mass.
Transportation problems in places like Cape Cod and Western Massachusetts get overshadowed in the handwringing over how the state’s economic fortunes unravel when the metro Boston transit system is out of whack. But if Beacon Hill has been remiss in dealing with the MBTA, just imagine the frustrations of residents in the far-flung regions of the state.
‘Tis the season to lament traffic issues on Cape Cod, namely, when tourists and commuters endure the horrors of bridge traffic as they descend on the region’s luxurious swatches of sand in the summer months.
What to do? The antidote to those backups, a third Cape bridge, has taken on an almost mythical aura. But unlike the Cape Cod Tunnel of urban legend, this idea seems to be inching closer to real-life fruition.
According to the Boston Globe’s Jon Chesto, private companies have shown interest in partnering with the state to build a toll bridge next to the Sagamore Bridge. The aging Sagamore (soon to become an Army Corps of Engineers repair project) would become an off-Cape only route. Don’t want to pay for your ticket to paradise? Then it’s the Bourne Bridge for you.
The thirst for improved Cape transportation options is undeniable. Even the Cape Flyer’s Friday night service has been turned into a de facto express train since so many Cape residents were using it to commute. And despite the transit system’s winter snafus, Bourne recently voted to join the MBTA even though the town does not currently have all-year commuter rail service.
Meanwhile, in Berkshire and Hampden counties, residents and tourists would do backflips over serious discussions about new infrastructure or even a transit system as problematic as the MBTA. However, a plan to expand rail service from New York City to Pittsfield failed to gain ground.
Yet tourists find ways of getting where they want to go. More alarming, is that many of the Bay State’s poorest residents have no public transportation at all. A report by the Valley Advocate’s Hunter Styles on a recent Harvard study on the role that a young person’s neighborhood plays in climbing out of poverty found that the biggest hurdle for Western Massachusetts youth trying to move up the income ladder is the lack of reliable transportation.
“We have 18 towns that aren’t served by public transportation,” Deborah Leonczyk, the director of the Berkshire Community Action Council in Pittsfield told Styles, “which makes it difficult for most low-income rural folks to actually find employment.”
Leonczyk wants Beacon Hill to invest in a three-year pilot program that would create routes for employer-funded shuttle buses for low-income workers. Bay State residents in public transportation-starved areas would gladly trade up for metro Boston’s transit headaches.
Newspaper support for updating the Public Records Law grows, as the Eagle-Tribune calls for major reforms.
Gov. Charlie Baker sat down with Keller@Large over the weekend to make his case for the MBTA control board and reiterated his call for a more detailed plan from Olympic organizers. Former state transportation secretary Jim Aloisi says the Senate’s vote for a T control board compromise is promising. (CommonWealth)
The Massachusetts House asks the Supreme Judicial Court to decide if the Senate’s votes for tax changes complied with the state constitution. (State House News)
A battle is brewing over an amendment in the House budget pushed by Steward Health Care System, which allows hospital networks to effectively operate as insurers by establishing systems that cover Medicaid patients. (Boston Globe)
“Where is the outrage?” asks Peter Gelzinis after a 7-year-old boy is shot on Sunday on Bowdoin Street in Dorchester. (Boston Herald)
Brockton‘s decision to switch ambulance services this month from a company that had the city’s contract for 34 years is creating a political maelstrom for the mayor. (The Enterprise)
The divorce between Boston developer Trinity Financial and the city of Lowell appears to be politically related. (Lowell Sun)
Almost half of Boston‘s restaurants and food-service businesses were cited last year for at least two of the most serious levels of health and sanitary code violations. (Boston Globe)
Mayor Marty Walsh‘s planning initiative, Imagine Boston 2030, which aims to set forth a vision for Boston as it approaches the city’s 400th birthday, is the same exercise his predecessor, Tom Menino, launched in the 1990s, spent at least $540,000 on — and then shelved and ignored. (Boston Globe)
The Boston Finance Commission says the transfer of the Winthrop Square Garage from the city to the Boston Redevelopment Authority may end up costing taxpayers money and should be stopped. (Boston Herald)
Joan Vennochi says new allegations raised in Boston’s lawsuit against the state gambling commission over its awarding of a casino license to Wynn Resorts raise good questions about just how far the panel may go in exercising what its chairman, Steve Crosby, calls the “tremendous discretion” granted to it by state law. (Boston Globe)
John Nichols says Ireland‘s vote for gay marriage was also a big demonstration of democracy in action. (The Nation)
The Federal Trade Commission and all 50 states have charged four connected cancer charities — the Breast Cancer Society, Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, and Children’s Cancer Fund of America — with bilking consumers out of $187 million. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
The Globe‘s Matt Viser reports in from Texas on the strange world of right-wing conspiracy theorists who think planned military exercises there are a pretext for a military takeover of the Lone Star state.
Jaclyn Cashman says it’s hard to listen to couple of richies like Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton talk about income inequality. (Boston Herald)
News reports say Charter Communications intends to buy Time Warner Cable for $55 billion. (NPR)
A number of studies of family-friendly laws conclude that while the statutes may help families balance work and home life, they can harm women’s ability to be hired and promoted. (New York Times)
The vote in Los Angeles to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour will be bad for teens and those in their early 20s, writes Jared Meyer in the right-leaning City Journal.
Students at Phillips Academy protest Memorial Day classes. (Eagle-Tribune)
A report from the Massachusetts Health Council says medical marijuana is a gateway to heroin. (Salem News)
The New York Times talks with two dozen current and former congressmen from both parties about the phrase in the Affordable Care Act “established by the states,” which is the focus of the pending Supreme Court challenge, and all say the four words were a drafting error.
Fung Wah might be finished. (Boston Globe)
A group of states is calling for tougher carbon emissions targets to address global warming. (Governing)
The annual report on drug use by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration says the rapid growth of heroin use is posing the biggest challenge for law enforcement in the Northeast, overtaking other substances and creating a lucrative market for traffickers. (Patriot Ledger)
Doubts are being raised about the reliability of the the diagnosis of “shaken baby syndrome,” which is at the center of the upcoming trial of a nanny charged in connection with the 2013 death of a Cambridge 1-year-old under her care. (Boston Globe)
The Norfolk District Attorney‘s office laid off four prosecutors to close a budget gap created when Gov. Charlie Baker imposed mid-fiscal-year budget cuts in February. (Boston Herald)
Police say despite arrests in small towns such as Abington and Easton, they don’t have the time or resources to chase the growing number of prostitution solicitations popping up online. (The Enterprise)MEDIA
The Arizona Republic finds success with storytelling events. (Nieman Journalism Lab)