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Transportation plan must go out of its way to innovate on cost control, revenues

Re “The state’s vision for fixing transportation” by Michael S. Dukakis and Stephen P. Crosby (Op-ed, Dec. 9): I support the notion that a long-term transportation financing strategy is essential. However, such a strategy must acknowledge the need to continue to develop both innovative reform measures to control costs and nontraditional financing approaches to generate sufficient revenue and to aid in achieving other policy objectives.

Financing approaches that should be explored include, for example, a restructured gas tax indexed to inflation; tolls on roads that are not currently tolled; increasing existing tolls during peak periods; charges to enter a section of downtown Boston, in order to relieve congestion and support transit; a statewide vehicle-miles-traveled fee to be distributed equitably to each region; and public-private partnerships.

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While there are pros and cons to all these approaches, they need to be evaluated within the context of the current plan to expand our public transit services and maintain and rehabilitate the existing highway system. The results of this evaluation then need to be presented to legislators, who first must be convinced that, as the op-ed states, “for a first-class economic future, the Commonwealth requires a first-class transportation system.”

John Collura

Amherst

Ther writer is professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the UMass Transportation Center at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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