Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Event: Last Turnpike Board Meeting, October 15

Thursday, 9:30 a.m. State
Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160, Boston 
The board of the 57-year-old Turnpike Authority
meets for the last time before it and the agency it oversees are formally
dissolved as a result of the new transportation reform law. The authority
controls the Turnpike, a 138-mile long roadway with 260 bridges that bisects
32 cities and towns. 
Board members say they expect a light agenda. "It's
kind of historic, if you ask me," said Mary Connaughton, one of the board's
five members and its longest serving member. "I'm sure a lot of people are
jumping for joy that the Turnpike's going away." Appointed by Gov. Mitt
Romney and referred to as a "gadfly" by outgoing Transportation Secretary
Jim Aloisi, Connaughton was a frequent critic of the agency during her
tenure. "I don't think the toll payers are out of the woods," she said,
referring to potential toll hikes down the road. She said she is in the
process packing up documents, news clippings and various other Turnpike
Authority "memorabilia" strewn across her home office. She is weighing a run
for state auditor and will make a decision by January. Michael Angelini, who
was appointed to the turnpike board by Gov. Deval Patrick in August 2007,
called the authority an "anachronism." "It seems longer than it was,"
Angelini said of his tenure. "It's been a bit of a ride." A Worcester
attorney, Angelini added: "My overriding memory is the Turnpike Authority,
while it has some terrible history, and while the Turnpike has been
victimized by political considerations historically, it consists of people
trying to do a good job." The other board members include John Jenkins,
president of the Comzer Insurance Agency and a Patrick appointee, and Judy
Pagliuca, a Romney appointee and vice president at Fidelity Management and
Investments. Her husband Steve is running for U.S. Senate. 
Under the transportation reform law enacted in June, the authority will be
consolidated into a super-agency known as the Massachusetts Department of
Transportation (MassDOT) and overseen by a five-member board. Jeffrey
Mullan, a longtime transportation official and current Turnpike Authority
executive director, will head MassDOT. Created in 1952 by the Legislature,
the Turnpike Authority's first chairman was William Callahan, the head of
the state Department of Public Works. 

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