NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 25, 2012

Study: 'Smart' infrastructure key to New England economic growth

(Continued)

“Those considerations wane over time,” Reopel said. Speaking of traffic congestion’s role in inspiring those kinds of solutions, Reopel said, “It has to come to a point where enough is enough.”

Other studies have focused on public transit’s role in lowering individual transportation costs,and congestion is not limited to Boston’s roadways. According to a report released in June, the MBTA’s aging infrastructure would be insufficient to handle a growth in ridership.

“Billions of dollars will need to be invested in new rolling stock and upgraded power and signal systems in order to address the capacity problems identified in this report,” the Urban Land Institute report concluded.

The NEC study focused more on automotive, freight trains and airports, highlighting the benefits of Logan International Airport’s recent non-stop connection to Japan. To reach emerging markets in India, China and Brazil, travelers often have to move through New York, according to the study.

Railways in central and western Massachusetts also impede commerce. Bridges remain too short to accommodate double-stacked container cars, the study said. The study mentioned that a cost-lowering system developed by Lexington-based RailRunner to transfer freight from trains to trucks is already in place in New England.

Noting the costs associated with developing a rail or subway system, the study recommended rapid bus transit to connect smaller cities. Reopel said bus transit, combined with pricing that would increase as congestion increased, would alleviate transportation woes. He also said that the ideas mentioned in the report would have a place in next year’s conversation about transportation financing.

In some parts of Massachusetts, low costs are an advantage. The Interstate-91 corridor, which transects Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts, can produce highly engineered products at a cost of only about 5 percent more than the southeast region of the country.

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