On December 6, MassDOT Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard Davey spoke at NAIOP’s Government Affairs Roundup. He discussed a number of his priorities as Secretary. First and foremost, he is committed to supporting innovation within the agency. He is encouraging employees to do things differently and to come up with creative solutions to some of the challenges facing MassDOT. His energy and passion for the job are clear.
A top priority for the agency has been the implementation of the transportation reform legislation passed in 2009. The impetus for that bill was the mandate that there be reform before any discussion of new revenues. Although there was no discussion of new revenue streams at the NAIOP program, Davey made it very clear that MassDOT cannot continue to maintain current services (and certainly not expand services), given the significant reductions in budgets and staffing.
One particular area of discussion was the agency’s cataloging of its real estate holdings to determine what opportunities might be available, including public/private partnerships. NAIOP will be closely monitoring such opportunities. Another priority is electronic tolling. Currently being used in a number of other states, only e-tolls will be used on the Tobin Bridge starting next year.
His remarks also illustrated the need for a complete financial restructuring of the MBTA if it wants to continue to provide current services or consider any expansion plans. Debt is the major problem for the MBTA, with 50 cents of every $1 of revenue going to debt service.
Secretary Davey is optimistic regarding the future of MassDOT, but he is also a realist who understands that reforms can only get you so far. We encourage a rational discussion about the historic, existing, and future requirements for infrastructure. If we do not invest in our future, we will ultimately pay a higher price in lost businesses and jobs.