Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How the Department of Public Works should work

The Department of Public Works, like many departments in the City of Boston, is reactive not proactive.

As Mayor, I would initiate a long term planning process for the maintenance and improvement of our streets that will save money and result in better roadways for all the citizens to use. Currently there is no long term plan for maintaining and improving the streets of Boston. Every spring the DPW makes a determination of which streets need to be fixed and repaved, which doesn’t allow for any forward planning by the residents, businesses, and utilities that need these streets for daily use.

I recently called the Department of Public Works to find out when my street was scheduled to be repaved, and I was told to call my City Councilor. This is no way to run or plan a major city road system. Under my leadership we will hire roadway management professionals to initiate a 20 year plan for maintaining and upgrading all the streets in Boston. In conjunction with my effort to promote transparency in the entire City of Boston, the plan will be available online. Maintaining roadways should not be a political process, it should be based on engineering and quantified data.

A plan for our roadways will be a vital element of my plan to eliminate the Boston Redevelopment Authority and create a Master Plan for Boston. My plan will be weighted more toward urban users of Boston roads so public transit, pedestrian and bicycle uses will be prioritized. The basic idea going forward will be that fewer cars, more walking and biking and use of public transit will be healthier for our city, the environment and our citizens.

Under this plan everyone affected will be notified in advance of pending street improvements. This will include Boston Water & Sewer, the gas, electric and telecommunications companies, and all other affected parties. This way we can all plan in advance the future upgrades we need to our businesses and residences. One of the major reasons for potholes in this city is because when the roads are cut open for utility work the patching leads to quicker deterioration of the roads. Not only will this plan save money for all parties it will make the roads better as well.

In addition, when road openings must be undertaken we need to have inspectors hold accountable the parties that make the repairs, not just immediately but in the future as well. Any repair should last as long as the timeline of the main road; if it doesn’t the original street opener will be responsible for bringing it into compliance.

I talked to the office of my City Councilor today to find out when my street would be repaved and he directed me to the DPW. This is the circle of mismanagement and non-accountability in Boston that needs to change.

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