Friday, April 9, 1999
Transportation committee hears Route 3 testimony
With the state's top lawmakers wrestling over how to alleviate the stranglehold traffic congestion has on many of the state's roads and highways, Senator Susan Fargo and her counterparts on the Joint Committee on Transportation heard emphatic testimony on behalf of Senate Bill 1673, an act relative to the expansion of Route 3.
For years, lawmakers who represent communities along the Route 3 corridor have urged passage of comprehensive legislation to expand the interstate highway. As recently as December of 1998 legislators pushed, unsuccessfully, for the release of a bill from conference committee which would have addressed the Route 3 issue. Now, however, the momentum to quickly resolve the Route 3 issue has gathered a full head of steam and has garnered widespread bipartisan support. The "design-build" approach to the proposed road construction is a relatively new concept; the contractor will cover construction costs up front and the commonwealth will reimburse the company after completion.
"This is a project whose time certainly has come," said Fargo, a cosponsor of the bill. "I wholeheartedly agree, with [Secretary of Transportation] Kevin Sullivan's assertion that this is not a convenience, this is a necessity. The communities along Route 3 have suffered far too long with commuters using quiet, residential back roads as shortcuts when the traffic backs up. Commuters who rely on Route 3 as a means to get to and from work should no longer have to endure the parking lot this road has become."
The only point of contention within the new bill, which includes changes Fargo requested to ensure the participation of communities abutting Route 3, is whether or not a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) should be adopted for the project. A PLA is frequently included in multi-million, multi-year contracts to insure that there aren't any labor-related work stoppages.
While most committee members, including Fargo, have argued that a PLA should significantly reduce the cost of the project and protect against delays, Lt. Governor Jane Swift told members that the Cellucci administration was not in favor of a PLA. Swift, however, was quick to add that the governor would not oppose the bill over the PLA issue.
"We do not believe a PLA is the best method," Swift said, "but we are not drawing the line in the sand. We want to get this project done."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito