How Rahm Emanuel could save the Sagamore Bridge
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The Sagamore flyover
, Mitt Romney’s
Cape Cod legacy, is the gift that’s stopped giving. The summer driving season is just days away, but drivers have already been experiencing weeks of soul-crushing traffic jams
, including mammoth Mother’s Day weekend
backups, thanks to 24/7 lane restrictions on the Sagamore Bridge
due to steel work to shore up
the nearly 80-year-old bridge.
warned western Massachusetts drivers planning to get a jump on Memorial Day weekend on the Cape to prepare for the worst
if they travel before bridge construction work ends on May 24.
“I want to see one eight lane bridge over the Cape Cod Canal before I die,” lamented one man on the Cape Cod Times Facebook page.
That would be nice since the Cape’s real problem is that the Sagamore and the Bourne bridges can’t handle 21st century traffic and conventional state funding can’t produce the new spans the region needs.
Most proposals for new tools such as infrastructure banks have gotten short shrift from federal and state lawmakers. President Obama’s
national infrastructure bank plan has gone nowhere with Congress. Gov. Deval Patrick’s state plan
was recently stripped out
of both House and Senate versions of a recent transportation bond bill.
Maybe Chicago has an answer. The Economist
recently spotlighted Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s
latest brainchild, the Chicago Infrastructure Trust.
Fed up with waiting for federal or state dollars to help pay for his audacious $7 billion plan to rebuild the Windy City’s crumbling infrastructure, Emanuel has devised a what is essentially a Match.com for the for the city’s transportation and other public assets.
Instead of foisting higher taxes on city residents, Emanuel aims to have private companies invest in the trust to fund projects on a “case-by-case basis.” So far the likes of Citibank, Citi Infrastructure Investors,
and the JP Morgan Asset Management Infrastructure Investment Group
among others, have put $1.7 billion in the trust. The companies reap profits from tolls, user fees, and tax breaks.
Though Emanuel convinced the Chicago City Council to go along with the idea there are plenty of skeptics
. Some lawmakers wonder about the wisdom of relying on investments made by some of the architects of the country’s financial meltdown. Others suspect that corporate user fees could be more onerous than city-backed fee or tax increases as Chicagoans discovered to their dismay when former Mayor Richard Daley
farmed out parking meter operations to a private group.
Despite the dire condition of many state roads and bridges, interest in public-private partnerships has been lukewarm at best in the Bay State. There are also barriers like the Pacheco law
that would have to be dealt with if such projects are ever to be seriously considered.
Yet with transportation officials working nonstop to extend the lifespan of bridges like the Sagamore through periodic repairs, the Chicago experiment bears watching. Cape Cod traffic jams won’t end anytime soon. A Sagamore Bridge painting project begins next year. --GABRIELLE GURLEY BEACON HILL
Without specifically backing either the House or Senate health care cost bills, Gov. Deval Patrick signaled broad support
for the goal of limiting the growth in health care costs to no more than than that of the overall state economy. Patrick also pledges
to serve out his full term.
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation
shuts down an ice cream stand at Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle
after the operator made building improvements without receiving permission first, the Lowell Sun reports
. The action follows a report
about DCR’s poor supervision of leases.
State Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty is throwing in the towel
on a late-night budget amendment he sponsored to move the Chelsea District Court, where a close family friend and campaign supporter serves as clerk magistrate, under the umbrella of the Boston Municipal Court and take authority over court away from Lynda Connolly
, the chief justice for district courts, who recently took disciplinary action against the clerk.The Republican
argues that gaming commission member Bruce Stebbins’s
tenure as a Springfield
city councilor should not disqualify him
from service on the state regulatory body. Springfield is in the running for a casino site.MUNICIPAL MATTERS
An audit of Lawrence’s finances
finds no fraud or mismanagement of the $235 million city and school budget, but raises concern about lax controls over investments and primitive payroll systems, the Eagle-Tribune reports
A change in federal law could force some cities and towns to spend millions of dollars
to replace public safety communications equipment, some of it just purchased to comply with other federal mandates.Dracut Housing Authority Executive Director Mary Karabatsos
wins high marks in a federal review eight months after three of the authority’s five commissioners nearly ousted her from the job, the Lowell Sun reports
tries to ride the momentum behind waterfront development as it puts a sunken pier out to bid
’s Paul McMorrow
, in his weekly Globe
Boston’s Haymarket pushcart vendors to get with the 21st century. NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON
A Republican New Hampshire lawmaker makes a Nazi salute
to the speaker during a House session, the Eagle-Tribune reports
. NECN has a video report
, showing the rep apologizing four times to the House but insisting afterwards that the speaker is a tyrant.Virginia’s General Assembly
rejects an openly gay prosecutor for a Richmond judgeship, the Washington Post reports
approves a new law allowing guns to be carried openly by people who have taken firearms training and had a background check, the Tulsa World reports
Cash-strapped states are diverting
funds from the recent nationwide foreclosure settlement to plug budget deficits.
House Speaker John Boehner
telegraphs a new standoff
over the debt ceiling, earning a rebuke
from the New York Times
editorial page. ELECTION 2012Republican consultant Todd Domke
, in a commentary
for WBUR, says the controversy about Elizabeth Warren
’s Native American heritage raised as many questions about her Senate campaign as about her personally. The Wall Street Journal documents
Warren’s Native American problems.Mitt Romney
is fighting back, producing a Web video that touts Bain Capital’s intervention in an Indiana steel company that saved jobs
and the American way of life. Buzzkillers, though, point out the ad fails to mention the millions of dollars in subsidies the state government poured in. In a speech yesterday in Iowa
, Romney cast President Obama
as an enemy of free enterprise. Romney receives
a strange endorsement from George W. Bush
Meanwhile, big banks -- including current poster-boy for bad Wall Street behavior JPMorgan Chase
-- are betting big on Romney, according to a Globe story
on campaign donors. Keller@Large
says if any congressional district is ripe for GOP picking, it could be the 6th District
, where US Rep. John Tierney
and challenger Richard Tisei
each claim a lead in polls.BUSINESS/ECONOMY
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling
’s video game company is in trouble
, which could prove costly to Rhode Island
, which wooed the firm from Massachusetts with $75 million in loan guarantees that the Bay State wasn’t willing to match.General Motors
says it plans to stop advertising on Facebook
as the social media company preps for an initial public offering that could put a market value on the company of $104 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports
Farms in Williamstown will be able to host
weddings, small concerts, and other commercial projects after gaining town meeting approvals.EDUCATION
MIT announced this morning that L. Rafael Reif
, the university’s provost, will take the reins as the school’s new president
, succeeding Susan Hockfield
, who announced three months ago that she was stepping down.
The president of the Methuen teachers union
defends a decision made during a secret session of the board to hold a new vote for president after she lost an earlier vote, the Eagle-Tribune reports
bust a move to prank their students, NECN reports
The attorney general’s office has sued a shuttered Weymouth driving school
that officials say closed its doors and left 200 students without lessons they had already paid for.RELIGIONScituate
parishioners that have occupied a local church the archdiocese
is attempting to close say they will not give up their 24-hour vigil they began in 2004
despite a Vatican
ruling this week that rejected their appeal.TRANSPORTATION
The Fall River City Council
is moving toward lifting the cap on taxi licenses
and banning the practice of the large operators in the city from hoarding unused licenses.
The Herald knocks
for running express Silver Line buses from the South Boston convention center to Logan Airport. The convention center doesn’t pay for the service and the T pays the bus drivers overtime, meaning the cash-strapped agency is likely losing money on the route. ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT
In a victory for wind turbine foes, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection has recommended
that a Falmouth wind turbine
, which sits less than 1,500 feet from a residence, be shut down because of the excessive noise it generates.
Federal mediators have been called in to try to avert a strike
at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant
in Plymouth.CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson
and Salem immigration attorney and Democratic Senate candidate Marisa DeFranco face off over the Secure Communities program
on Greater Boston
The secretary of state
has rejected an appeal by the New Bedford Standard Times
for all documents related to an internal investigation by the Bristol County Sheriff’s Department
into the jail’s medical director, who abruptly resigned last fall.
A local political news website in Seattle
closes because of limited ad revenue despite 400,000 monthly page views, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
and Newark Mayor Cory Booker
make a funny video
together for the New Jersey Press Association Legislative Correspondents Club Show.