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Gov. Baker’s congestion report marred by recommendation to add new highway lanes

With congestion at a tipping point, focus should be on alternative modes of transportation
For Immediate Release

BOSTON -- In a rebuke to the long awaited study Gov. Baker released this morning --- “Congestion in the Commonwealth”--- MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale issued a critical statement. 

The report acknowledges that congestion in Massachusetts is at a “tipping point,” reducing residents’ access to jobs and overall mobility, and it puts forward some solutions advocates have long pushed for, including dedicated bus lanes, increasing transit capacity, building more affordable housing near transit and updating fees on Uber and Lyft rides. But in the report and during the press conference releasing the report, Gov. Baker also recommended adding new highway lanes, which would negate the gains made by the other solutions.

 

Matt Casale, MASSPIRG’s Staff Attorney and Transportation Campaign director, released the following statement:

“While there are several meaningful and positive ideas included in the governor’s congestion report, it’s hard to take seriously any proposal that recommends adding highway capacity in 2019. We have known for decades that building new highway lanes, even if they are tolled, doesn’t fix congestion -- it encourages more driving, which increases air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. 

“To build a modern, sustainable and efficient transportation network for Massachusetts -- and to have any chance of meeting our statewide emissions reduction goals -- we have to stop trying to apply 20th century solutions to our 21st century transportation problems. For example: We can increase dedicated bus lanes and create new managed and HOV lanes without laying new pavement. We can use our current roadway network more efficiently and stop giving priority street space to cars only, and truly embrace the mantra of ‘moving people, not cars.’ At the end of the day, adding new highway lanes is a really expensive way to make the transportation crisis in Massachusetts worse. We urge the governor to put the brakes on this idea.”

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MASSPIRG  is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. MASSPIRG is part of The Public Interest Network. The Public Interest Network runs organizations committed to our vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.

For more information on all of the problems with adding new highway lanes, see our series of “Highway Boondoggles” reports, availale at https://uspirg.org/feature/usp/stop-highway-boondoggles

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MASSPIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.