Local Delegation Wants SouthCoast Rep on Transportation Committee
Members of the SouthCoast legislative delegation have penned a letter to Governor Charlie Baker, asking to have the area represented on the governor's new transportation commission.
Gov. Baker announced at the end of January that, through an executive order, he was forming an 18-member Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth. But Representative Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford) tells WBSM News our region was excluded from the commission.
"No one from southeastern Massachusetts, or in particular the SouthCoast area, has been appointed to that commission," Rep. Cabral said. "Myself and some of my colleagues thought it would be important to have someone from the SouthCoast at the table, because our transportation needs go beyond just South Coast Rail."
Also signing the letter was Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), Rep. Robert M. Koczera (D-New Bedford) and Rep. Paul Schmid (D-Westport). The letter states the legislators were "surprised to read that there will be no representation of the South Coast region" and urges Gov. Baker to "consider a membership that would ensure our dire transportation needs have a seat at this table."
The letter goes on to say "we do not believe an informed decision can be made without, at a minimum, hearing the transportation concerns of the South Coast region," and that even though the area has been waiting on South Coast Rail for decades, "our needs are not a monolith; the South Coast deserves a comprehensive review of our infrastructure needs."
Cabral discussed some of those needs with WBSM News, and the New Bedford-Fairhaven bridge is one of the biggest concerns.
"We also have issues with (Route) 195 and the ramps that lead to Route 18," he said. "There are issues with a number of bottlenecks going into (Route) 24, around the Route 140 and 24 intersection. Even with South Coast Rail, we're going to need to resolve a lot of these transportation issues that really impact southeastern Massachusetts and the SouthCoast in particular."
"We've got to have a transportation infrastructure that really makes it easier to get in and out of our region, in order to have better opportunities for economic development," he said. "We really need to have someone who has our best interest and understands our needs. I think it's important for the whole commission and the governor in particular to understand our needs in terms of transportation infrastructure besides South Coast Rail."
The letter was composed on February 12, and Cabral said he has not yet heard back from the governor or his office.
"Our hope is that it was an oversight. I'm sure it was not intentional," Cabral said. "It was probably an oversight on the part of someone, and I hope it gets corrected. That's our intention. This is about correcting an issues that needs to be connected, and ought to be connected, and I believe the governor will hear us on this."
Read the delegation's letter to Governor Baker here.