Nearly 50 people turned out for Sen. Lydia Edward’s second Community Transition Committee virtual meeting last week to discuss transportation. Edwards kicked off the series of meetings last month with the first being on the topic of housing. At each meeting Edwards is asking residents to advise her on constituent and public policy issues impacting the Senate district.
While last week’s meeting focused on transportation, the committee will cover issues including addiction and recovery, Massport, seniors, education/youth services, public safety, and environmental justice throughout 2022.
“I can’t believe we have 46 people on the meeting tonight,” said Edwards as she kicked off the meeting. “That’s almost 16 More people than we had on housing. So this is a growing conversation.”
Local resident Alex DeFronzo kicked off the community conversation on transportation with an emphasis on adding more designated bike and bus lanes in the area.
“The developments that have happened in Downtown Boston with dedicated bus lanes and new bike infrastructure with protected bike lanes is excellent,” said DeFronzo. “It would be so incredible to see more of this and I think it will really help with the congestion and traffic issues. So whatever we can do to keep equity there and have the same sort of stuff that’s happening downtown happening here would be great.”
DeFronzo also added that adding more bus lanes, increasing funding to the MBTA for more rapid transit as well as funding the Red-Blue Line Connector will all help reduce traffic and congestion regionally.
GreenRoots’s John Walkey said there needs to be more transparency when it comes to increasing capacity at Logan Airport. While the state and the Port Authority year after year commissions studies and reports that call for increasing flights and passengers under the argument that Logan is the state’s ‘economic engine’ , more needs to be done to protect communities surrounding the airport.
“There are tremendous benefits and there are lots of very expensive reports that have been produced to show what the benefits are to the region,” said Walkey. “What they don’t do is say who gets those benefits? And what they don’t do is say what are the costs and who bears those costs? I think if we were to actually do a cost benefit analysis of the airport and take a look at who is getting the benefit of having international flights coming in here–and there are some benefits for local residents who have jobs and we want to see those jobs increase–there are some downsides. And those downsides are the noise pollution, the air pollution and the health impacts of those downsides.”
AIR, Inc. Vice President Chris Marchi added that the same sort of tenacity from elected officials that went into fighting the utilities in Environmental Justice Communities needs to be applied to focusing on Massport’s recent expansion. Marchi argues that no other entity will contribute more to traffic woes and transportations issues in the region than an increase in flights and passengers coming and going at Logan.
“We will need you (Sen. Edwards) to use this opportunity now to begin to pressure the Port Authority on every front,” said Marchi. “I would ask that what you began with the utility companies extends to Massport. Massports 2018-2019 environmental data report disclosed that the airport emitted 35,481 pounds of pollution every single day into the air . They also disclosed that as far as greenhouse gasses, the airport emitted 810,000 metric tons–and that’s just one year in 2019. So it’s so important to me– and I’m really grateful that you’re having this session–that we really strengthen the relationship between our elected officials and our community’s perspectives on airport issues.”