MassDOT Wants You!

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MassDOT has started a talent search for a range of professionals to work for the agency, as well as for the MBTA. They are looking for the right people with the right skills at the right time, and that time is now! These will be energetic individuals that are familiar with best practices and want to assist in transforming the current transportation system into a world class system.

This is a great opportunity to get involved with an agency that has problems, for sure, but also one that is on the move and seeking change with top notch leadership at its helm. The experience that these new hires will get will be invaluable as they move on with their careers. Or, for more seasoned professionals, this is a great way to give back and shape the future of transportation in the Commonwealth.

Some of the current jobs include:

  • MBTA Assistant Administrator of Contracting Strategy & Supply Chain
  • MBTA Business Analyst
  • MBTA Deputy Administrator of Customer Experience
  • MBTA Director of Cost Control & Lean Strategy
  • MBTA Director of Financial Analysis & Planning
  • MBTA Director of Revenue
  • MBTA Manager of Capital Budget
  • MBTA Sr. Operating Budget Analyst

If you know of someone looking for a new, challenging opportunity, let them know about MassDOT.

A Little Late, But Welcome to Massachusetts, Steve!

WynnEverettIt appears that the lengthy, sometimes contentious, legal battle between Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is over. A “surrounding community” agreement was reached by both parties for the development of an Everett casino. The agreement includes:

  • $31 million over 15 years for community impact
  • $25 million over 10 years for Sullivan Square infrastructure improvements
  • $11 million for traffic mitigation in Charlestown
  • $250,000 for a regional working group on a “long-term fix” for Sullivan Square
  • a “good faith effort” to purchase $20 million annually over 15 years from Boston businesses
  • $1 million for reimbursement of Boston’s professional (legal) expenses.

Wynn Resorts Everett will be a $1.7 billion, five-star, premier destination resort with a 600 all-suite room hotel in Everett, located off Lower Broadway, at the site of the heavily contaminated, former Monsanto Chemical plant. Millions of dollars will be invested to clean and remediate the site and to construct infrastructure and traffic betterments.

The Commonwealth will receive a licensing fee of $85 million, along with 25% of gross gaming revenues, which are estimated to be $260 million annually.

There will be 4,000 full time jobs, as well as over 3,600 construction jobs.

For Everett:

  • $30 million in advanced payments for a Community Enhancement Fund payable during the construction period
  • $5 million Community Impact Fee, increasing annually
  • $20 million for real estate taxes, increasing annually (almost 25% of the city’s tax base)
  • $250,000 contribution to Everett Citizens Foundation
  • $50,000 annual payment to purchase vouchers/gift certificates from Everett businesses to be distributed by Wynn as part of its loyalty programs
  • An estimated $2.5 million per year in hotel and restaurant taxes
  • An active waterfront park with a winter garden and harbor walk will be created

That’s quite a financial commitment by an out-of-state company to the Commonwealth. In case you haven’t heard it before, welcome to Massachusetts!

MBTA Control Board’s First Report Shows Urgent Need For Change

The MBTA’s new Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) has just issued its first 60-day report identifying the scope of the challenges facing the T. The GreenLineFMCB has been tasked with identifying and shaping solutions to improve operations and performance. The report is extensive, probing, and extremely candid. The Board members should be congratulated on producing such a clear case for moving from the status quo to a system that is reliable, transparent, and sustainable.

It is no surprise that the some of the underlying problems are even more serious than originally thought. Firstly, the MBTA’s annual operating budget is unsustainable, with expenses increasing at nearly three times the rate of revenue growth. Secondly, annual capital spending on deferred maintenance and capital investment is substantially below the $472 million annual spending needed to prevent the backlog from further increasing. The prolonged under-spending has caused the backlog in capital investment to rise to $7.3 billion. The report states that the management team has committed to ensuring that available capital funds are spent, maintaining the MBTA system at a level that will prevent the backlog from further increasing while improving the overall condition of the system and its facilities as expeditiously as possible.

The FMCB has reported some progress:

• Total Capital spending increased to $740 million in FY2015 and is budgeted to be $1.05 billion in FY2016.
• The MBTA planned, designed, and is executing a Winter Resiliency Plan to better prepare the system to withstand major storms and extended periods of cold.
• The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services have signed a Performance Improvement Plan and are working to address identified shortfalls in performance.
• The FMCB and MBTA management are developing a strategy to make improvements in the procurement and contracting processes and to review all existing service contracts (e.g., the MBTA issued a Request for Information for the private-sector on some low and moderate ridership bus routes, express bus routes, and late-night bus service).
• The FMCB and MBTA management are focusing on performance metrics to drive improvement in MBTA operational practices and to expand transparency and accountability with the riding public.
• The FMCB and MBTA leadership are also pursuing efforts to increase workforce productivity and to reduce absenteeism among MBTA staff.
• The FMCB is committed to a positive employee engagement program, understanding that morale, sense of mission, clear management and decision-making structures, and workforce investments are all necessary ingredients for any successful organization.

It is very clear to the reader of this report that the work of FMCB has just begun. The goal is to have a transit system that is sustainable and accomplishes its mission. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, the MBTA will be operating efficiently. It will certainly take a lot of work by a dedicated management team and workforce. However, there is no alternative. Businesses, residents, and workers must have an MBTA that is reliable.

NAIOP Applauds Legislature for Budget with Important T Reforms

Last night a $38.1 billion state budget (H. 3650) was released from conference committee. NAIOP applauds the conference committee members (House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka, Sens. Sal DiDomenico and Vinny deMacedo and Reps. Stephen Kulik and Todd Smola), Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo for their leadership in passing a bill that includes important reforms for the MBTA.

One of the most important aspects of the bill (and something NAIOP has championed) is the creation of a MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board chaired by the Secretary of MassDOT. The budget states that the Fiscal and Management Control Board shall “initiate and assure the implementation of appropriate measures to secure the fiscal, operational and managerial stability of the authority and shall continue in existence until June 30, 2018.” A two year extension beyond 2018 could be granted if needed. The Board shall formulate and recommend a plan to the secretary of transportation to stabilize and strengthen the finances, management, operations and asset condition of the authority. The Fiscal and Management Control Board will also develop performance metrics and measure items included in the plan. NAIOP believes the creation of the Control Board will provide greater accountability and transparency for the T’s governance and management practices and is critical to ensure a safe, reliable, fiscally stable, modern transit system for Massachusetts.

The budget also suspends the Pacheco Law for three years. The Pacheco Law requires a vetting process before privatization of services at the MBTA and, according to a report released today by the Pioneer Institute, it has cost the MBTA at least $450 million since 1997. NAIOP strongly supports this important reform.

The House and Senate are expected to approve the budget today and then it goes to Governor Baker for his review. He then has 10 days to review it review it before signing it and announcing amendments and vetoes.

NAIOP will continue to actively advocate for transportation reforms that support roads, bridges, public transit – and economic growth.

NAIOP Testifies in Support of Transportation Legislation

Yesterday, building off of our ongoing advocacy on this issue and the statement we recently signed with 24 other business groups, NAIOP testified before the Joint Committee on Transportation urging legislative leaders to fix the the Commonwealth’s broken public transit system by adopting the recommendations outlined by the Governor’s Special Panel to Review the MBTA. We will continue to work with the Baker Administration, legislative leaders and business groups to advocate for real reforms that will quickly address the needs of the Commonwealth’s citizens and businesses.

NAIOP’s testimony from the hearing follows:

NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, Supports House Bill 3347
May 11, 2015

NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, would like to express its support for House Bill 3347, An Act Relative to a Reliable, Sustainable Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

NAIOP Massachusetts represents the interests of companies involved with the development, ownership, management, and financing of commercial properties. NAIOP’s 1,600 members are involved with more than 240 million square feet of office, research & development, industrial, mixed use, retail and institutional space in the Commonwealth.

This winter, businesses across Massachusetts felt the impact of the Commonwealth’s failing transportation infrastructure. Employees simply could not get to work. The T, in particular, illustrated the negative impact an unreliable transit system has on the economy. Those who normally relied on the T, but had the option of driving, caused roadways to be more congested and commuting times to grow exponentially. There is no question that without a reliable public transit system, the economic wellbeing of the Commonwealth will continue to suffer. The time for action is now.

NAIOP and 24 other business organizations from across the state recently signed a statement urging policymakers to act quickly to make the changes needed to transform the MBTA into a modern, world-class public transit system. House Bill 3347, which includes many of the recommendations outlined by the Governor’s Special Panel to Review the MBTA, would be an important first step in the right direction.

The bill contains a number of important provisions. It will provide greater accountability and transparency for the T’s governance and management practices through the establishment of a Fiscal and Management Control Board. It sets performance metrics so progress can be measured and goals can be achieved in a reasonable amount of time. It addresses the T’s procurement and maintenance practices so that the system is safe, reliable and in a state of good repair. Most importantly, it requires the Control Board to implement a plan designed to stabilize and strengthen the finances, management, operations and asset condition of the MBTA and to ensure a safe, reliable, fiscally stable, modern transit system for Massachusetts.

We urge the Committee to give this bill a favorable report and to take the steps needed to create a world class public transit system that will meet today’s needs and accommodate the growing demands of future economic growth.

Business Coalition Urges Governor and Legislature to Create World-Class Transit System

A broad coalition of 25 business associations representing large and small employers from a wide range of industries today issued the following statement urging the Governor and the Legislature to adopt the recent recommendations made by the Special Panel to Review the MBTA and to swiftly begin the task of fixing the state’s public transit system:

Business Coalition Statement in Support of a World-Class Transit System

The Challenge
The winter of 2015 highlighted the Commonwealth’s transportation vulnerabilities, particularly for the MBTA. While school and business cancellations, a dramatic drop in retail sales, and an increase in public safety risks result from many major winter storms, the complete shutdown of the MBTA followed by a prolonged reduction in services for the subways and commuter rails are not the norm.
The unreliability of our public transit system caused many businesses to lose substantial revenues from the loss of productivity due to delays and/or the inability of workers to get to work. Many hourly workers forfeited wages; many retailers forfeited sales; many restaurants forfeited patrons; and the Commonwealth forfeited the income, sales and meals tax associated therewith. A sub-optimal public transit system also caused roadways to be more congested than usual and commuting times to grow to unreasonable lengths for those who opted to drive or were transporting goods. The adverse financial impacts totaled in the billions of dollars. This is unacceptable and must not be repeated.

The Framework
Due to the urgency of fixing the MBTA and the need for the public transit system to be reliable and fully functional, the undersigned business organizations are requesting policy makers to address the following issues:
• Make the T a customer-focused organization that provides first-rate service and clear communication while instilling confidence in its ridership.
• Provide greater accountability and transparency for the T’s governance and management practices to ensure the entity is efficiently and effectively run while employing a productive workforce.
• Develop a long-term strategic and capital plan for the T that efficiently uses its resources to enhance the current capabilities and future needs of the T, businesses and workers, while providing sufficient funding to cover the costs.
• Overhaul the T’s procurement and maintenance practices so that the system is safe, reliable and in a state of good repair.
• Establish metrics, milestones and regular reporting to ensure proper implementation of the T reforms within a reasonable period of time.
• Ensure that the T balances its operating budget without the need for ever-increasing state assistance each year.

The Solution
The undersigned support this position and urge the Governor and the Legislature to act swiftly so we can begin the arduous task of fixing the state’s public transit system.

Following a thorough analysis of the various recommendations from the Governor’s Special Panel to Review the MBTA, and measured against the principles outlined above, we endorse the Panel’s proposal and urge the Legislature to adopt the plan immediately.

The following business organizations support this statement:
495/MetroWest Partnership
Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield
American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts
Associated Industries of Massachusetts
Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts
Construction Industries of Massachusetts
Environmental Business Council
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
Massachusetts Biotechnology Council
Massachusetts Chemistry & Technology Alliance
Massachusetts High Tech Council
Massachusetts Lodging Association
Massachusetts Petroleum Council
Massachusetts Restaurant Association
Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation
Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council
Massachusetts Business Roundtable
Metro South Chamber of Commerce
NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association
National Federation of Independent Businesses
Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce
North Shore Chamber of Commerce
Retailers Association of Massachusetts
South Shore Chamber of Commerce

Quotes from Business Coalition Members:
“The unreliability of the public transit system has caused many businesses to lose substantial revenues from the loss of productivity due to delays and the inability of workers to get to work,” said Richard Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM).

Eileen McAnneny, President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said, “Now that the breadth and severity of the problems confronting the MBTA have been revealed and the price of inaction is evident, we have a real opportunity to move forward with a plan for transforming the MBTA into a modern, world-class public transit system.”

“The transit system experienced a ‘stress test’ and failed. The time is right to not only fix today’s MBTA, but ensure that it will meet future demands,” said David Begelfer, CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

“The MBTA is critical to Greater Boston’s economy. Workers, customers, patients, students and tourists depend on it every day. We need to take the T to the next level right away,” said Paul Guzzi, President and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Transportation Transformation: Event Recap & Support for MBTA Reforms

On Thursday, April 9, NAIOP hosted the Transportation Transformation Conference, which featured federal and state transportation officials as well as national experts who discussed the role of transportation in a growing Massachusetts economy; new technology and other innovative solutions to transportation challenges; and what the future holds for the nation and Massachusetts.

The event was held the day after Governor Baker’s Special Panel to Review the MBTA released its detailed report on a plan of action to reform and improve the MBTA. MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack discussed the report’s findings at the event. NAIOP supports the recommendations outlined in the report and looks forward to working with the Baker Administration, Legislature and the business community to create a reliable and safe public transit system.

The following is a guest blog and event recap by Fred Wagner, Principal at Beveridge & Diamond, former Chief Counsel of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and moderator at the Transportation Transformation Conference. The post originally appeared on Enviro Structure.

TRANSPORTATION TRANSFORMATION RECAPThe NAIOP Massachusetts Transportation Transformation conference held on April 9 was one of those rare trade association meetings where you didn’t want the sessions to end.  Ideas flowed from the podium and from the audience faster than the New England melting snow flowed into the Charles River.

Perhaps unwittingly, transportation thought leaders from local, state and federal agencies echoed the philosophy of legendary architect Daniel Burnham (D.C.’s Union Station, NYC’s Flatiron Building):  “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.  Make big plans, aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistence.”

Over 300 attendees heard Vinn White, Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, describe the draft “Beyond Traffic” report  and how the challenges of demographic and technological trends will shape our transportation network looking 30 years into the future.  After showing this well-viewed YouTube video showing traffic flow in Ethiopia’s Meskel Square, he asked what these images of chaos had in common with what you’d see in Davis Square in Somerville, Massachusetts.  The answer?  People.  People living their lives, trying get to work, bringing kids to school, or visiting friends and family.  In short, Mr. White suggested, even if our major intersections thankfully don’t resemble the bedlam from Meskel Square, we may have more in common than we think.

Newly confirmed MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack described how in her view, there was no such thing as a transportation plan that existed in isolation.  Rather, she wanted to know from communities what they thought their biggest challenges were, and then look to transportation infrastructure to help solve those challenges.  “Don’t just pull projects off the shelf that have been there for 30 years,” she has instructed her new staff.  “There’s probably a reason they’ve been up on that shelf for so long.”

Secretary Pollock’s views were supported by Jay Ash, the new Secretary of Housing and Economic Development in Massachusetts Governor Baker’s Administration.  He commented to the receptive audience how unusual it must be for them to hear a Transportation Secretary and an economic development executive being so much on the same page.  Secretary Ash reiterated how he had, over the course of his career in public service and in his new role, visited communities all over the Commonwealth with visionary plans.  All of them demanded to some extent an improved transportation network to convey people to new centers of commerce, education, or recreation.

Finally, Gabe Klein, the former head of Washington, D.C.’s and Chicago’s Departments of Transportation, and Harriet Tregoning, the Director of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Office of Economic Resilience, both provided a glimpse into the future of urban/suburban transportation.  Pedestrians, bicyclists, streetcars, and yes, even automobiles, living in harmony, operating on re-engineered streets that provide safe and reliable means of mobility.

“Change is coming faster than we believe,” Mr. Klein predicted.  Autonomous vehicles could be a reality in less than 5 years, given the current pace of technological advances and investment by huge companies like Google and Amazon.  Parking downtown could be a thing of the past, as people share solar-powered, self-driving cars, moving seamlessly between work and errands, never really needing a place to leave an empty, under-utilized vehicle.  Imagine planning a new mixed-used development without the burden of complying with a parking ratio?  Not quite worthy of a John Lennon lyric, perhaps, but even so…

Gatherings like this serve as a reminder why all of us in the development sector love our work.  We get to “make big plans” and, with any luck, see them come to life.

View event photos