[Dukakis is] in the midst of one more big push, his current obsession, and something he’s been working on for a long time: getting the city’s North and South stations connected by an underground rail line. “It would be transformative,” he will gush—in how much congestion would be relieved, in how many polluting cars would be taken off the road, in how much time would be saved for commuters, and in the economic boom that would result.
We walk the 2 miles to Northeastern, where Dukakis has taught public policy and management for 27 years. It’s a walk he makes most weekdays, winding along the Emerald Necklace. [As] always, Dukakis carries a plastic bag, because as he walks he must pick up trash.
…Dukakis’s obsession with connecting the North and South stations stretches back as far as he can remember. He has been riding public transit—streetcars at first—by himself since he was five years old, in 1938. It gave him freedom to go downtown as a boy in the city he loved, to wander. To stare up at the home of Paul Revere on North Square, to imagine that he was Johnny Tremain, the fictional acolyte of the great silversmith. Dukakis loved history. Or to go to baseball games. All his life the T has been his preferred mode of travel, especially for the dozen years when he was governor: taking the Green Line to Beacon Hill, talking to people also heading to work or school about how their lives were going, about what he should be doing better.
…[Weld and Dukakis] have joined together on this, in an effort to persuade the guy in the governor’s office that this is the project he ought to be focusing on, and not wasting time spending—are you ready for this?—$2 billion to add seven tracks to South Station. Absolutely crazy, folks! Seven tracks. Two billion dollars. When they fill up, then what? And what about the folks on the north side, who come down from the North Shore, Merrimack Valley. Bam, hit North Station, then two trains, three changes, walking, running, trying to get to work. It’s crazy! I have colleagues who come from the North Shore, you ought to be able to get on a commuter train and come to Ruggles, the Northeastern station. Can’t do it. So what do they do? They drive!” Which is causing terrible gridlock.
…“What I want to know is why we’re spending money on this interchange. We’ve got about 200 bridges in the state in desperate need of paint.”
In the dark car, Michael Dukakis shakes his head, because it simply doesn’t make any sense.