Mass. Turnpike Authority may merge with other state agencies

Gov. Patrick expected to request budget cuts from other constitutional officers

October 02, 2008

On Oct. 2, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to propose dismantling the state’s turnpike authority and merging its operations into other state agencies.

The proposal is the first step in a long-promised overhaul of a fractured, debt-burdened transportation network, officials briefed on the plan told The Boston Globe.

Patrick is also expected to announce his administration will identify "hundreds of millions of dollars" in budget cuts before Oct. 15, according to two officials briefed on the plans.

And Patrick will request that the state's other constitutional officers—including Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, Secretary of State William F. Galvin, and Auditor Joe DeNucci—cut their budgets by as much as 7 percent.

The proposal to abolish the Turnpike Authority is now only a broad concept. The governor will announce that he is asking the secretary of transportation, Bernard Cohen, to draft legislation with details as soon as January when the Legislature reconvenes, two officials briefed on the plan told The Boston Globe.

There are numerous questions left unanswered, such as the amount of money that would be saved by shutting down the agency, and there are no indications in the plans that turnpike tolls will be eliminated

Financial benefits could be realized in the future if the Legislature passes the overhaul next year, but it does not appear it would ease what officials call an urgent need for large toll increases on the turnpike and Big Dig tunnels now.