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Merger of Mass DOT and Turnpike Fails to Produce Savings

Samuel Staley
June 21, 2011, 8:41am

Tollroadsnews.com is reporting that the merger of the Massachusetts Turnpike and state Department of Transportation in 2009 has failed to produce meaningful savings. The state originally projected $5 billion to nearly $7 billion in savings over 20 years. Now, the estimates are closer to $2 billion over 20 years. But, it's quite possible, no savings will materialize. As Tollroads News reports:

The separate agencies had 4,275 positions just before the merger. Therefore to save 300 positions (7%) the merged DOT should now have 3,975 positions. In fact it has 4,254, just 31 fewer than before the merger, a reduction in staff of 0.5% versus the promised 7%.

60 people were laid off, 112 resigned and 173 retired, while 143 others in net transferred to other state agencies for total departures of 488.

Against the 488 who left 457 new people were recruited, for the net reduction of 31.

149 of the Turnpike staff reductions in the 488 were Turnpike police troopers who patrolled the Turnpike. They were attached to the State Police on merger. They still patrol the Turnpike and are still paid out of Turnpike revenues.

If these troopers are deducted from the numbers of pre-merger staff (4,108) those who left state government employment as a result of the merger totaled 339. When that number is compared to 457 positions added, there was a net addition to staff of 118, as compared to the 300 staff savings promised - an increase of 2.9% versus a promised drop of 7%.

The Massachusetts DOT claims that stimulus funding and an accelerated bridge repair program are the reasons why staffing has increased.

Unfortunately, the track record on government consolidations leading to improved savings is sketchy at best, as this review of the academic literature for the Indiana General Assembly found.

We'll see if any savings really emerge.

A more complete report on the cost savings to date can be found at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.


Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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