For years I thought eliminating the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority was a good idea. In fact, I believe it was supposed to be dissolved after paying off its initial bonds, years ago, but we know how state government tends to work toward self preservation.
While the Pike and MBTA have been in debt for years, Massport makes money, so my idea was to bring them all together under the umbrella of the state's Executive Office of Transportation, which includes the Mass. Highway Department and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The other reason I consider this a good idea is that having Massport under the direct control of elected officials would make the authority more sensitive to public opinion.
Boston.com is reporting that Gov. Patrick has a plan to dismember the Pike, turning everything west of Route 128 over to the state highway department, while Massport would take over the roadway from 128 to the airport. The Port Authority, which already controls the Tobin Bridge, would gain all three harbor tunnels.
I guess this is an improvement on the current state of things, though I'd like to see the entire plan and to hear feedback. The first concern that I see is that I don't trust Massport and this proposal gives the agency more power. Quasi-government authorities can be monsters, and through the years this particular one has been monstrous.
This reshuffle seems to do little to help the MBTA, which provides valuable services to many people. At a time when more residents are turning to public transportation, the state should shore up and help out that agency. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see a lot of cushy white-collar jobs associated with the T. It's here to serve, at a reasonable price, people who don't have vehicles or who are leaving those vehicles at home. Shouldn't we support that mission more aggressively?