State Sen. Joe Boncore held a “Coffee with Joe” event with Revere residents this past Saturday at Torretta’s Bakery. He took a moment to reflect on his work at the State House and for his constituents around the First Suffolk and Middlesex district.
What are your thoughts on the past two years in the State House?
It’s been an incredible journey, getting to know the pulse of the State House and getting to know constituents all across the district. I was able to accomplish quite a bit. As chairman of the Joint Committee on Housing we passed the largest housing bond bill in the Commonwealth’s history, a $1.8 billion bond bill that makes the investment in the production and preservation of housing that is affordable throughout the Commonwealth.
What other areas are you working on?
Also, as chairman of the Transportation Committee, we just passed the Chap. 90 bond bill. This supplements money going to the municipalities for local road work. I’ve also been able to take the lead on some issues around congestion in the area. One of those areas is called “dynamic tolling” also known as “congestion pricing” which would help alleviate some congestion in the area, our neighborhoods, during our commute.
If we can take 5 percent of cars off the road that would free up congestion by about 20 percent. Congestion tolling would incentivize people, people who have a more flexible schedule to not drive during peak hours.
Could Route 1, the old Newburyport Turnpike, get a makeover?
We need infrastructure investment all across the Commonwealth. Highways and bridges in Commonwealth are in a $5 billion state of disrepair, and number is growing every day. Expanding roads might seem like the right idea, but it actually induces more cars and more traffic. We need to look at transit not as a way to move cars but to move people, The investment is better made in the reliability of the T and investment in commuter rail. We need transportation that is efficient, time saving and reliable.
Does he think the Suffolk Downs development helps with transportation issues?
I do, especially in regard to the T. The blue line is not at capacity right now, they’re not running every available car on the blue line, like they are on the red, orange and green line. The reason for that is because the demand is not there. I think the infusion of 10,000 residences in the (Suffolk Downs) development during the next 20 years. We have to focus on the Blue Line, the demand will be there. This will also force us to look at the Orange Line/Red Line connection, which would link communities and economies. The expansion and connection of the two lines were part of mitigation when the Big Dig took place. It will make so transit is moving people. We need to be more efficient with our public transit.
What are your plans for the upcoming term?
I’ll be working on the housing and transportation committees. We have a housing crisis in Massachusetts, especially the greater Boston area that is one of the top three most expensive cities to live in. We need to be able to produce housing to keep pace with our job growth and economic growth. In order to do that we need housing and some zoning reform. In transportation my main focus is on “congestion tolling” and figuring out what we need in our region. There’s a lot we can do with “dynamic tolling,” we also need to find sources of new revenue, and invest in our otherwise failed transit system.