OPINION | Barry Richard: Here Comes the Train….Again!
So, here we go again. Another State of the State, another promise about commuter rail to the South Coast.
In his final State of the State address before facing re-election this Fall, Governor Charlie Baker made the following pledge;
“After more than three decades of lip service, we’re going to make commuter rail from Fall River and New Bedford to Boston a reality."
Sorry, Charlie but, we've heard that one before.
Almost five years ago to the day the old snake oil salesman Deval Patrick promised a $1.8 billion dollar investment in the rail project that was going to result in some 38 hundred jobs and generate $500 million dollars in new economic activity statewide annually.
“Opportunity is too important to leave to chance, but opportunity requires growth and growth requires investment. We have made a commitment to bring commuter rail to the South Coast because we know this will unlock new economic development opportunities while delivering a reliable transit choice for commuters with huge environmental benefits.”
Yawn. Sorry, Deval. Been there, done that.
In February 1992, Governor Bill Weld promised the train too;
“Sue me if it doesn’t happen.”
His successor, Paul Cellucci promised a train in 1999 and Acting Governor Jane Swift did as well in 2001.
In March of 2005, Governor Mitt Romney promised $670 million dollars for the train project. Ole Mitt said we'd be "all aboard" within 6 to 8 years. CHOO CHOO!
So, pardon my skepticism, Charlie.
Governor Baker's plan is for a route through Middleboro which almost no one wants. The Stoughton route is no longer an option.
Given that no one really wants a train that goes through Middleboro why waste the money? Give us the cash to spend on things we really want and need. Like a new bridge. That would make more sense.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon-3 p.m. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.