Baker tries to streamline transit improvements

— Photo by LuK3

— Photo by LuK3

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

‘It takes much longer in the U.S. than in other developed nations to build and repair public infrastructure, as my old friend Philip K. Howard, who chairs Common Good, has researched, and written about so well, in such books as Try Common Sense.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is in need of massive repairs and major subway and commuter train service expansion. So it was heartening to read that the public-private partnership aspect of Gov. Charlie Baker’s 10-year, $18 billion transportation plan includes provisions to streamline the procurement process.

The Boston Globe had an example of how stuff gets held up and things can be moved along at a faster clip.

“Most notably, the bill contains language aimed at avoiding what went down in Quincy last year: A development at the MBTA’s North Quincy Station ground to a halt after Attorney General Maura Healey ruled the T broke the law by not bidding out work for a parking garage that would be built there. A private developer was going to build the garage, but it would have ultimately been owned by the T.

“Baker’s bill would avoid another such situation by relaxing procurement rules to allow developers to move forward on a wide array of public transportation infrastructure — from staircases to stations — that would be part of their projects but deeded to the state or the MBTA. ‘’

One of the more interesting Baker administration proposals is to set up a new, $50 million program for a $2,000-per-employee tax credit for employers who let workers telecommute, thus reducing the pressure on Greater Boston’s often clogged roads during weekday rush hours. Of course, few managers would be affected.

To read more about the Baker plan, which of course would very much affect neighboring states, too, hit these links: