fb-pixel Skip to main content

Protector of neighborhoods

A cyclist uses the Southwest Corridor just after it opened.globe file

I WAS saddened to read of the passing of David Burke, a former aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

This public servant never demonstrated the self-importance often found in aides to powerful people. During the 1970s, when Cambridge, Somerville and Boston residents fought to save their homes and neighborhoods from destruction by the proposed Inner Belt highway, Burke was always ready to use Kennedy’s power to gain access to federal officials as high as the secretary of transportation.

After a long struggle and delay, the highway and its threat of destruction were stopped. The region got an equivalent amount of federal money to extend the Red Line to Alewife, relocate the Orange Line and blend it with parks in the Southwest Corridor, and refurbish the nearly defunct commuter rail lines.


Today thousands of people still live in those neighborhoods, and thousands more use those transit and commuter rail services. Al this would have been impossible without Burke’s willingness to take the time to help an apparently hopeless effort. His was an example of how to use power in a moral way, to have government serve its people.

Fred Salvucci

The writer is former Massachusetts secretary of transportation.