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.
Improving our Public Transit Network
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.
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. 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 ensure 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.
Investing in Community Broadband
Broadband: Cape Cod deserves access to the best broadband available and at fair market-prices. For over a decade, Comcast has had a near-monopoly on internet access, which allows them to dictate price and has led to poor service and download/upload speeds. I support implementing a Community Broadband Program in each of our towns that provides a public, low-cost high speed internet alternative to the exorbitant pricing from private utility companies.
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 we need to go further.
Improving Cell Phone Reception Infrastructure
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 911.
We must expand our cellular coverage while positioning the Cape at the forefront of 5G technology. Deploying 5G across Cape Cod where communities often lack reliable broadband internet service especially during the summer, could lead to much needed positive change. 5G network connectivity in our schools could improve access to digital teaching tools and information. By lowering the latency, the internet connection can dramatically expand digital and remote learning options. The capabilities of 5G can also make it easier for students to complete homework at home without the limitations of low connectivity sets.
Connected health care services become more accessible. The stronger connections and low latency of 5G enhance telemedicine opportunities for low bandwidth areas, where hospital services are difficult to reach. This creates opportunities for remote surgery, consultations and more. Because 5G can transfer data at break-neck speeds, it also makes wearables and self-monitoring health care devices more efficient. Patients can follow and transfer up-to-the-minute vital signs data to their remote health care providers to get realtime attention.
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.