Corporations will pay for transportation, and Cambridge should be asking them
The recent announcement that New Balance will pay for a new commuter rail stop in Brighton that will service their employees and the public proves what I’ve been saying all along: Companies will help us fund transit projects if we ask them.
At a price tag of $14 million to $16 million dollars, it is not a small contribution that the sneaker company is making to the transit system. It is also acknowledgement that the lack of good transportation is at a desperate level, and to retain their employee base they needed to make significant improvements in partnership with the existing infrastructure.
We are facing the same dilemmas here in Cambridge and soon on a massive scale. As I’ve said during my Planning for People campaign for City Council: Cambridge is at a crossroads, literally and figuratively. Traffic issues are the No. 1 complaint I hear from voters (followed closely by the need for expanding affordable housing). Neighbors are worried that they will be trapped during a medical emergency because rush-hour commuters block intersections. Entire neighborhoods are congested with overflow commuters looking for parking. And across the city it takes longer and longer – more of your precious time – to make it from point A to point B.
There is no good news to report. Cambridge has approved more development in the past two years than was built in the previous 20, and that adds up to more than 12 John Hancock towers! Estimates put another 100,000 commuters going into and out of our city. Where are we going to put them all?
We don’t have the street parking capacity, and there is no plan to upgrade the red line or the MBTA bus system. But did the council mandate that the red line be upgraded? That the bus system be expanded as part of any development project? Simply – no.
In fact, contrary to the understanding of many current councillors and candidates alike, there is no holistic citywide Master Plan integrating transportation so that the city can even begin planning for this commuter onslaught. As part of my Planning for People campaign, it will be my first priority to work hard to have us gather the information the state requires and to implement our master plan according to the state law that mandates that all cities and towns in the commonwealth create, implement and update on a regular basis.
This will give us a baseline with which to begin to form some rational basis to deal with our transportation system. It will cost money, and we will have to ask our representatives and the governor to help us out. But we need to be thinking of creative solutions to give us an advantage. I propose that even just the interest on our current “free cash” of $142 million could be used to finance design fees for upgrading the Red Line that could then increase passenger capacity by 50 percent.
And when I am on the council, during the process of approving or denying development plans I will make sure that we expect developers to come to the table ready to contribute to the infrastructure that will not only help their company but the city as a whole. Only then we can make progress toward resolving our transportation issues. But this will happen only if someone with my knowledge and expertise has a seat at the table. Watch my video here to learn more.
That is why it is critical that you, the Cambridge voter, cast your No. 1 vote for me, Dennis Carlone on Nov. 5. I’m on the Clean Slate with Janneke House and Nadeem Mazen and I urge you to vote the whole slate. Cambridge needs change, now more than ever.
Dennis Carlone, candidate for Cambridge City Council