NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 16, 2013

More transportation money? Fool me once ...

(Continued)

5. Voters later rejected a ballot question to repeal “temporary” tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike because they were told the alternative was a gas tax increase, which is being floated now anyhow, along with toll hikes.

6. Eventually, there was yet another of the executive department consolidations that are done when officials want to look like they are doing something, then you find out that there are the same number of employees, and each of the agencies under the new umbrella have their own human resource departments, purchasing departments, etc.

It’s now 2013, the highways are still not adequately funded, the MBTA is in debt, and the state expects us to trust it again with more of our money. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me over and over, what am I, really dumb?

Here’s my transportation plan. Do the reforms first. My favorites are the recommendations for “more performance management within DOT” and “a modernized asset-management system.” And be sure to do “changes to MBTA retirement eligibility.”

Here are other reforms not being discussed. Do an independent audit of MassDOT, tell us where all the money raised by the gas tax for the state Highway Fund goes. Repeal the state Prevailing Wage Law, which increases the cost of infrastructure projects by making both public and private contractors pay the prevailing union wage. New Hampshire repealed this law in 1985 and has saved millions while maintaining its roads better than Massachusetts does.

When the reforms are done, get back to me about higher taxes, fees and tolls. Who knows? If we try actually managing our transportation system, we may no longer need them.

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Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is a regular Salem News columnist.

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