Richard Davey Gives Update on Back Bay Transportation Projects
Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey provided an update on local issues at the Back Bay Association's Back Bay Update.
Transparency will be key for the future of the Department of Transportation, Secretary Richard Davey said during the Back Bay Update breakfast at the Hilton on Thursday.
Davey spoke about the approved MBTA service cuts and fare increases, the study of Massachusetts Turnpike ramps between the Back Bay and South Boston, and development plans for the Turnpike Air Rights parcels 12, 13 and 15 by Mass Ave. and Dartmouth Street.
But overall, he stressed that the state plans to be open about what’s doing well – and what’s not.
“Why would we tell the public what we’re not doing well?” Davey said. “Because they know already.”
The first step is admitting there’s a problem, he said, and the practice of 'we’ve always done it this way' will be replaced with creative ideas for better spending and ways to reduce revenue – along with employee incentives for those who come up with good ideas that are chosen.
As for the approved service cuts and fare increases, he spoke to the severity of the MBTA deficit.
“Unless something gives, we will be back here next year having the same conversation,” he said.
But a major problem is that the department hasn’t spent enough in general upgrades and maintenance, keeping, for instance, red line cars from 1969 on the tracks.
“The state,” he said, “has not invested the kind of capital it should have in maintenance.” And that’s something he vowed to change.
There’s been a crackdown on fare invasion as well, especially on the green line. During non rush-hour, for instance, conductors no longer open the middle doors of the train, and expect to see more undercover officers making sure people pay.
In addition, Davey said he’s working with corporations and colleges to establish prepaid passes that could include a Charlie Card chip embedded in student ID’s.
He also spoke to plans for an eastbound ramp from the Mass Pike into Back Bay. A study group reconvened last fall and is plugging away at the issue.
The future of Storrow Drive, on the other hand, is still up in the air.
We’ve been thinking about Storrow in a very piece mail way,” he said, mentioning the Esplanade 2020 Vision. “If we want to get serious about it, we need to build a consensus.”
Development plans for the air rights parcels - the space above the turnpike by the Hynes T stop - also garnered a lot of attention. With four proposals on the table, Davey said he’s excited, but also wants to make sure they’re good developments for the neighborhood.
The proposals include a mix of office, residential, retail and hotel developments from Trinity, Carpenter, Chiofaro and Weiner/Samuels.