Cape Cod’s infrastructure is antiquated and ineffective. It is time to fix our roads, bridges, power grids, and transit options. Furthermore, the grip ComCast has on the entire cable and broadband market needs to be broken. One company dictating price options and technology upgrades puts Cape Cod consumers and businesses at a disadvantage both fiscally and competitively. We should never be forced to pay more for less.
Transit: During the Cape’s peak months roughly 50,000 cars cross our two bridges every day with a majority of these vehicles converging onto Route 6. Traffic stops… for miles. During the off-season, similar bumper-to-bumper situations can arise from even the smallest of maintenance projects. As beneficial as an additional lane or a second through-way are in theory, they are simply not realistic.
I propose we turn our efforts towards the existing rail transport system.
The goal would be to implement a Medium-Speed Rail system (MSR) which, unlike High-Speed Rail (HSR), uses conventional trains, running on conventional tracks, but at 90 to 135 mph. The trains would run all day, every day. Tickets would be affordable for all riders with additional savings for Cape residents. As for costs, since many existing commuter rail locomotives and coaches in Massachusetts are scheduled to be replaced, funds earmarked for these improvements could be appropriated to cover a significant portion of the MSR system expense.
Power lines: Power lines need to be buried. Year after year, storm after storm, wide swaths of Cape Cod fall into darkness. Many times the outages last for days. Homes become freezers. Pitch-black icy streets turn even the shortest drive into a nightmare. Downed wires add a further threat to life and limb. Moving power lines underground would end all this once and for all.
A further benefit from going underground is the removal of utility poles. This would facilitate construction of a bike-land on busy streets as well as widening roads wherever needed.
I will work with industry professionals and EverSource to insure we find the most cost-saving and practical way to implement this project as well as obtaining as much financial support through available State and Federal funds.
Broadband: Cape Cod deserves access to the best broadband available and at fair market-prices. To accomplish this, local governments and public utilities need to have a major overhaul in how much they charge. Presently, Internet Service Providers must negotiate with local officials for access to lay wire and then they must strike a deal with utilities for renting space on poles, or in ducts and conduits. This is not the issue. A fee should definitely be charged. The problem is local governments and their public utilities charge providers exorbitant fees, far more than these things actually cost.
Further to that, Cape Cod deserves better than being forced into the Comcast monopoly. OpenCape, a 501c3 non-profit tech company located in Barnstable, works tirelessly to open the broadband marketplace. They currently serve over 100 institutions across the Cape, but I believe we need to go further. We need to implement methods to allow all of Cape residents the power to choose. This will spur competition amongst providers which will drive prices down and the quality of service up.
Mobile Service: Our cellular towers become overwhelmed during Summer months by the uptick in mobile device users. This is understandably frustrating but even more concerning is when there’s an emergency and a user is unable to call to 9-1-1.
We must expand our cellular coverage while positioning the Cape at the forefront of 5G technology.
There is also a new government-funded organization called FirstNet, First Responder Network Authority, which is building the Nation’s first wireless public safety broadband network for paramedics, police, and firemen. Instituting this separate network guarantees First Responders uninterrupted, reliable, fast internet communication.