During a March 25, 1930, hearing of the Legislative Committee on Municipal Finance, Rep. Birmingham argued in favor of including unaccepted streets in a bill to authorize Boston to borrow $10 million to pave accepted and private roads. He said it was an outrage to force people to pay taxes on unaccepted roads without fixing them (JMC Scrapbooks, Vol. 20, pp. 31, 52, 65, 66; Vol. 21, p. 8).
Massachusetts defines an unaccepted street or road as one that is open to public travel but not formally accepted by a community, usually by a vote of the town meeting. Some private roads are also considered unaccepted roads.
Birmingham urged favorable action to help outlying sections of the city instead of spending road improvement money on widening streets downtown.
Rep. James J. Twohig of South Boston testified that his district badly needed money to improve its streets. Most of the accepted streets are in "horrible condition," he said.
Corporation Counsel Samuel Silverman testified that the mayor was seeking $10 million for permanent paving of new streets. He said that the city was ready to start work on spending between $5 million and $6 million on its street improvement program.
On March 30, the committee reconvened the hearing at which Silverman said that there were 502 petitions for permanent paving of unaccepted streets. Of the 502 petitions, 96 were for paving of Brighton streets. Silverman estimated that paving would cost $10,000 per street, or a total of $5 million, with Brighton getting $1.1 million.
Public Works Commissioner Joseph A. Rourke said that there were also a large number of accepted streets that needed paving and submitted his department’s paving plan to the committee. He said that $590,000 was already earmarked in the Boston city budget for street improvement.
Senator Frank W. Osborne of Lynn asked Rourke how much it would cost to “clear up the street problem in Boston?” Rourke replied that it would probably require between $80 million and $90 million in total.
In response to a question by Rep. John P. Higgins of Boston, Rourke said his department would have to double its workforce to implement the entire Boston road improvement program.
Silverman was then asked whether Boston would be asking for another $10 million loan next year to carry out the program. He replied that he did not anticipate that the city would ask for a similar amount next year.
Birmingham said that Rourke had told him that the money would be equally divided between improving unaccepted and accepted streets. He said the street improvement program met with his approval and favored the bills.
Also in late March of 1930, Birmingham was elected president of the newly formed Massachusetts Democratic Legislative Club, which was set up to assist Democratic party candidates in state elections and to elect more Democrats to the state legislature.