Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has formed an 18-member group to take a hard look at transportation infrastructure needs.
Is mandate is to “sensibly [account] for impending disruptions due to changes in technology, climate, demographics and more,” Baker said Tuesday, signing an executive order before giving his State of the Commonwealth speech in Boston.
“Making informed transportation decisions and policy guided by the best analysis possible will be the foundation for success across the board in years to come to keep our innovation economy thriving and competitive,” Baker said.
Baker is scheduled to release his fiscal 2019 budget on Wednesday.
The group will examine climate and resiliency; transportation electrification; autonomous and connected vehicles, including ride-sharing services; transit and mobility service; and land use and demographic trends.
Michael Solomon, senior vice president at FTN Financial, called the move a plus.
“With the significant challenges facing our transportation infrastructure, assembling a blue ribbon panel to explore transportation's future within the context of sustainability and advancing technologies, will not only benefit the commonwealth but its findings could be applicable to improving transportation development nationally,” said Solomon.
Baker, a moderate Republican who works with a Democratic legislature and is up for re-election this year, spent much of his first term overhauling the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which operates Greater Boston mass transit.
After a record 110 inches of snow during the winter of 2014-15 paralyzed some parts of the transit system, Baker and the legislature enacted a fiscal oversight board that oversees the MBTA, a unit of the state Department of Transportation.
"There is more to do on the T. Much more," Baker said Tuesday night.
Record storm surge two weeks ago followed by a deep freeze renewed calls to further protect water-exposed neighborhoods in Boston, many of which are transit-intensive.
Baker’s former chief of staff, Steven Kadish, will chair the new commission, which will work unpaid.
Matthew Beaton and Stephanie Pollack, the secretaries of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and MassDOT, respectively, will be ex-officio members.