Fitchburg, MA — State Senate candidate Sue Chalifoux Zephir today called on incumbent Republican State Senator Dean Tran to correct misrepresentations he made at Thursday night’s FLAP-TV debate regarding wished-for improvements to Route 2.
At the debate, Tran claimed he had successfully won passage of a feasibility study to “make improvements as well as expand Route 2.”
In reality, Tran’s amendment was downgraded by Governor Baker. The downgraded amendment doesn’t include any funding for a comprehensive transportation study, and only requires the state Department of Transportation to study improvements to the Concord Rotary. Route 2 access and exit ramps and the timing of traffic lights will be looked at, but suggesting that a feasibility study on the widening of Route 2 was approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor is false.
“We don’t need another study to tell us that traffic on Route 2 is a problem — we need real funding for road improvements, and commuter rail service to Gardner to get cars off the road,” said Sue Chalifoux Zephir. “In the State Senate, I’ll fight for the money our communities deserve for shovel-ready transportation infrastructure projects, not studies to tell us things we already know.”
“Dean Tran needs to be honest with voters about his record in the Senate,” Chalifoux Zephir added. “Our roads and bridges are crumbling, but he hasn’t sought funding for a single shovel-ready transportation project. Our families need good jobs with a future, but Dean didn’t file a single budget amendment for local job creation projects. Our students deserve better schools, but Dean failed to file a single budget amendment to improve our K- 12 public schools.”
Voters deserve more opportunities to hear Dean Tran defend his record, and this misrepresentation only makes it more important that he agree to participate in the Sentinel & Enterprise’s debate on October 24.
“It’s time for Dean to stop ducking legitimate questions about his record,” Chalifoux Zephir added. “Our communities need real investments in job creation, transportation, and education right now, not a laundry list of bond items on a wish list with no guarantee that they’ll ever be funded.”
Senator Tran said no to the newspaper’s invitation to a one-on-one 90-minute debate, saying he would only “respond to written questions” with written answers. The two other debates the candidates participated provided questions or topics in advance, making the Sentinel & Enterprise debate the only open-ended debate of this election.
Language of Senator Tran’s amendment (#168) to the economic development bill:
“Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation shall conduct a study to determine the feasibility of increasing the width of route 2 between the town of Concord and the city of Gardner. The study shall evaluate the cost of adding a lane in either direction, including the cost of relocating crossings and exits and rebuilding existing bridges. The study shall also take into account the existing traffic flow and congestion and the extent to which an additional lane would improve traffic flow and congestion. The department shall submit a report with the results of the study to the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate and the joint committee on transportation not later than December 31, 2019.”
Language of amendment as amended by Governor Baker and signed into law:
“Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation shall report on factors contributing to and possible means to alleviate traffic congestion on state highway route 2 between the town of Concord and the city of Gardner. The report shall, at a minimum, evaluate the feasibility of improving the rotary in Concord to improve traffic flow, adjustments to traffic light timing on relevant crossroads, and the feasibility of improving access and egress ramps. If an additional travel lane is determined to be a practical and effective means to alleviate congestion, the Department shall evaluate the cost of adding a lane in either direction, including the cost of relocating crossings and exits and rebuilding existing bridges. The department shall submit the report to the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate and the joint committee on transportation not later than December 31, 2019.”
Sue Chalifoux Zephir is the Democratic nominee for State Senate in the Worcester & Middlesex District, which includes Berlin, Bolton, Gardner, Fitchburg, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Townsend, Sterling, Westminster, and Precincts 1 and 2 in Clinton.
In addition to serving as a Leominster city councilor for five terms, Sue is Executive Director of Ginny’s Helping Hand, a community-based food pantry that serves individuals and families across North Central Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Assumption College and her MBA from Simmons College, and previously worked in public television as a production and business manager. Sue is married to Ed Zephir, a local business owner, and is the mother of three grown girls and a grandmother to babies Winnie and Nora.