We share the pride of many residents that Boston has been selected as the U.S. candidate to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics Games. We also share the concerns of many residents that the Olympics may divert urgently needed resources and attention away from the region’s and state’s challenges.
While there are many questions that have to be answered about the impact that the Olympics will have on Boston, and on Massachusetts as a whole, we know that we cannot host a world-class event without a world-class transportation system. The Olympics will require new arenas, facilities, and housing. These investments will only be effective if we can get visitors and fans to and from events throughout the region.
In 2015, Massachusetts does not have the revenue in place to fund our well-established regional transportation needs, even apart from the extraordinary demands of hosting the Olympics. Nor is funding sufficient to meet other needs throughout the rest of the state. After decades of underfunding, every region of the Commonwealth needs improved transportation, and we cannot retreat from delivering on this need – with or without the Olympics. As a result, the Olympics will not be able to merely rely on existing funding and plans for transportation improvements.
Preparing for the Olympics presents the region with an enormous challenge and potentially with an unprecedented opportunity to improve the region’s walkability, bicycle infrastructure, and public transportation. To do it right, we need legacy investments that will:
– serve the City, Greater Boston, and the Commonwealth for decades to come (not just during the Olympics);
– benefit low-income neighborhoods and communities of color;
– be climate-friendly and climate-resilient;
– ensure full accessibility of our transportation network for people with disabilities;
– and complement, not reduce, investments needed throughout the entire state.
Transportation, housing, and event venue investments should help Massachusetts address long-standing regional and social inequities and achieve the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets as required under the Global Warming Solution Act. The Commonwealth must also commit to transportation investments that ensure full accessibility to our transportation network for everyone with disabilities.
We call for a comprehensive and equitable plan to pay for the needed transportation improvements and the ongoing operations costs before the Olympics bid is submitted. We also call for robust public engagement that results in concrete actions to advance the transportation, housing, and economic development priorities of the region’s low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
Our coalition stands ready to help plan for an Olympics proposal that seeks to advance regional and social equity, reduce climate pollution, and provide a blueprint and identifies the resources for the major transportation upgrades that are so urgently needed throughout the state.
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