It is with great pleasure that I joined representatives from The Department of Conservation and Recreation, Southwest Corridor Conservancy, Park Management Advisory Council, legislators, and city and state officials today in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Southwest Corridor Park.
Forty years ago, Governor Frank Sargent listened to his constituents, who said that their neighborhoods were a lot more valuable than the expressways that were proposed to cut them up. Governor Sargent showed tremendous leadership by putting a stop to the construction of the Southwest Expressway and the Inner Belt Highway, and announcing an effort to focus on more community-friendly transportation investments in the densely developed Boston core. And the United States Department of Transportation showed leadership by allowing Governor Sargent to use those highway funds on public transit instead.
We now see the results all around us. Instead of being divided by an expressway, this neighborhood is drawn together by the Orange Line and by the Southwest Corridor Park, which celebrates its twentieth birthday today. This beautiful ribbon of green helps people get out of their cars and walk to the T station, or bike right to downtown Boston. Governor Sargent’s decision forty years ago enabled the creation of this corridor that brings together the modes – walking, bicycling, and public transit – that represent not the past, but the future of transportation.
These are transportation modes that enable people to get out of their cars. This in turn reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality and fights greenhouse gas emissions, and promotes healthy lifestyles that can help to combat obesity and the other health problems. These modes also support smart growth development patterns that better enable people to get around without cars.
Just as Governor Sargent showed leadership on transportation forty years ago, I want to thank Governor Deval Patrick for showing leadership on transportation today. Working with the Legislature, Governor Patrick developed a vision for a unified state department of transportation – ONE MassDOT – that would bring all different transportation modes and agencies under one organization to enable an integrated, multi-modal approach to providing transportation infrastructure and services, as well as to save money.
Six months into its life, MassDOT already delivering on that promise. Our job at MassDOT is to strengthen our commitment to safety and customer service. And that means supporting all transportation users – whether you are a T rider, bicyclists, pedestrian or driver. We’ve invested an historic amount in public transit and improving commuter rail and throughout the state we’re expanding funding for bike and pedestrian paths. The MBTA will invest ARRA funds to improve bicycle facilities and in improving service and reliability along key bus routes.
Our job is to strengthen the Commonwealth’s cities and towns and support investments that give people more options on how to get around. Standing here today, we can be reminded of how important Sargent’s legacy is and how critical it is to continue Governor Patrick’s commitment to improving our transportation system for EVERYONE.
More information about the Southwest Corridor Park is available on the web. And we invite you to learn more about MassDOT's commitment to public health and increased access for bicyclists and pedestrians by visiting our Healthy Transportation Compact on our website.
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