The Olympics in Boston in 2024 sounds like a grand plan. It certainly would put Boston and the Commonwealth on the international map; but, leave Western Massachusetts off the same map.
And while proponents and opponents line up to make their arguments, including the possibility of a statewide referendum, one thing is for certain – if it happens – Western Massachusetts will end up the big loser infrastructure wise.
Remember the Big Dig? A transportation project for the greater Boston area originally estimated to cost $2.8 billion in 1982 will ultimately cost the taxpayers $24.3 billion when the final bond is paid off in 2038, including $9.3 billion in interest alone.
During my terms as mayor of Springfield (1996-2004) the city and region was always in competition against the Big Dig for infrastructure needs. Always.
From Chapter 90 dollars for basic road repairs; to bigger ticket items like the Memorial Bridge; to the current 91 Viaduct project, Western Massassachusetts is still suffering the impact of the Big Dig. We never got our fair share.
There is only a limited number of state dollars for these projects. Should Boston be designated for 2024, those area infrastructure projects will be funded and Western Mass transportation needs will be put on the back burner for years. There is no way around it unless specific legislation mandates equal distribution of funding across the State. Even then, I have my doubts. There will simply be no way to say no to the needs of Boston 2024.
I'm not against the Olympics. I am for Western Massachusetts.
Michael J. Albano