New England needs to compete on the global stage as a unified region, not an assemblage of cities and towns pitted against one another. We need to offer potential employers efficient and comprehensive access to our most valuable resource, namely our skilled labor pool, and vice versa. The current real estate bubble in Boston and Cambridge, in both housing and commercial property, is largely the result of unequal transportation access. High costs in the few places with good accessibility drive away many potential employers, particularly the start-ups who will seed the next round of growth. By contrast, making our Gateway Cities more accessible will encourage investment and make our entire region more competitive – while also making us more just and sustainable.
While Boston clearly offers a wealth of academic and cultural resources, these are not confined to the area within route 128. World-class universities and museums can be found in our Gateway Cities across Massachusetts, often side-by-side with affordable housing and commercial property. Linking these cities will unlock their potential and make the Commonwealth and New England as a whole more prosperous.
Likewise, a modern and integrated regional rail system will greatly enhance our already very strong tourism economy.
We should not take our present success for granted. Gridlock and high costs are not a selling point. Regions around the country and the globe are investing heavily in the kind of infrastructure we have long neglected, increasingly at our peril. Our Gateway Cities are not just a responsibility, but a valuable resource that, with better access, will make us more competitive.