OPINION|Barry Richard: Train? No, Bridge? Yes
The Baker Administration says it's ready to deliver a train to southeastern Massachusetts. Problem is, no one really wants the damn thing. At least not what is being proposed.
Governor Charlie Baker, apparently believing that something is better than nothing, has decided to extend commuter rail to New Bedford and Fall River. But, since we don't have the money or the permits to run the thing up the so-called Stoughton route Baker says let's run it through Middleboro instead. So what if it adds a half hour to the commute and no one except Fall River wants to do that.
How stupid is it to spend many tens of millions of dollars on a project that nobody is really excited about? Taunton opposes it. Lakeville opposes it. New Bedford opposes it. And Middleboro opposes it. So, why do it?
Here's a better idea. Why don't the politicians just say, "Hey, we tried," and call it a day? There are many things we could use the money for. A replacement for the wicked old New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge is one such thing. Yet, Mayor Jon Mitchell says it's a non-starter with state transportation officials.
For $100 million we could replace the bridge. Repairs to the more than 100-year-old bridge will cost an estimated $40 million over 10 years. Gee, that option makes about as much sense as funding a rain that no one really wants at ten times the cost. Yet, the state is not willing to talk about a replacement bridge.
Hey, what say we forget about the train and build a bridge, no?
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.