By SCOTT JACKSON
The changes seen in Quincy over the past decade are example of what can happen with investments in public transportation and infrastructure, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey said during a visit to the city on Monday.
“This is a city on the move. This is a city with a boomtown environment and people wanting to move here,” he said. “This might be the greatest era in Quincy’s history.”
Markey, a Malden Democrat, met with Mayor Thomas Koch, state Sen. John Keenan, and members of Quincy’s Planning Department Monday afternoon. The group visited the Hancock-Adams Common before moving on to the nearby Quincy Center MBTA station.
Markey’s visit to Quincy comes as Democrats on Capitol Hill work to pass President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure package. Markey said the city’s investments into Quincy Center over the past decade – more than $200 million in public money – are an example other communities could follow.
“This is like a model city capturing the benefits of public transportation and infrastructure investments,” Markey said. “If you build it, they will come.”
Markey was optimistic Democrats would be able to work with Republicans to pass the infrastructure package.
“We’re just going to have to work with Republicans to get their votes by tailoring it in a way that elicits their support, but we can’t be cutting back the size of it because we know the magnitude of the problems we’re trying to solve,” he said.
“It is going to be a tricky political terrain that we are walking, but ultimately I think we can be successful in solving that problem.”
Senate Democrats are prepared to use reconciliation to pass the bill without GOP support if necessary, Markey added.
“We can use the 51 votes under the reconciliation rules to pass an infrastructure bill,” he said. “We would prefer to work with Republicans on a bipartisan basis to get more than 60 votes for a package, but if not…ultimately we have to move forward with 51 votes and pass it like that.”
Massachusetts could get between $25 and $30 billion from the federal government from Biden’s proposal, Markey said, including funds for the state to use and money to be distributed to cities and towns. A member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Markey said he wants to make sure communities are in the best position to use those funds.
“I want to be as helpful as I can be,” he said. “We want to be your partners in any way we can.”
Koch said he was hopeful the federal government would give communities leeway on how they spend the infrastructure money.
“I hope they give us the flexibility we have had with other money,” he said, adding that no two communities have the same needs.
Koch said there are a number of infrastructure projects in the pipeline in Quincy. Those include fixing streets and subsurface infrastructure, building a new public safety headquarters on Sea Street and a new firehouse on Quincy Avenue, replacing the Squantum Elementary School, adding two or three more garages in Quincy Center, and constructing a new municipal building to house Quincy College and the offices now in the city hall annex building.
Koch also provided Markey with an update on the plans to redevelop the Quincy Center MBTA station. Atlantic and Bozzuto, the two firms chosen to oversee the project, remain committed to it, he said, but the plans are on hold as the T tries to work out the improvements needed to the station itself.
In the end, the mayor said the project could include 500,000 to 1 million square feet of housing and commercial space.