I joined my colleagues in the House today in approving a $12.7 billion bond bill to assist Massachusetts communities in paying for local transportation-related projects.
The bond bill authorizes $300 million in Chapter 90 funding to help cities and towns complete road, bridge and infrastructure improvement projects. This marks the eighth consecutive year that the House has either raised or level-funded Chapter 90. The legislation also includes a provision designating South Station the “Governor Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center at South Station.”
“Chapter 90 funds are essential to providing stability and prompting economic growth in Massachusetts,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. “That growth starts on the local level which is why the House has been, and will continue to be, an unyielding champion of municipalities across the state. This bill provides cities and towns with the funds they so rightly deserve. I thank Chairman Straus and my colleagues for their work.”
“I’m pleased that this legislation authorizes an appropriation of $300 million for cities and towns through Chapter 90 and also funds a variety of important large-scale transportation projects throughout the state,” said Representative William Straus (D-Mattapoisett), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation. “This bill demonstrates a continued financial commitment by the House of Representatives to pay for all modes of transportation in Massachusetts including roads, bridge repairs, new trains, improvements to local airports, and major transportation infrastructure projects. An accessible and modern transportation system is essential for economic growth.”
The legislation will improve and modernize the state’s infrastructure system through projects including:
- $2.97 billion for state-wide roadway and bridge projects;
- $350 million in investments for Regional Transit Authority improvements;
- $125 million to support the Department of Conservation in preserving and improving historic parkways;
- $2.5 billion for MBTA rail improvements including new Red and Orange Line cars.
Funding for the Sixth Plymouth District will benefit projects such as $100,000 for the repair and construction of a bridge to allow handicapped access and for the installation of a fish ladder at Herring Run Park in the Town of Pembroke.
The bill also includes $50 million in grant monies for the ‘complete streets’ project which supports investments that accommodate users including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
DUXBURY – Duxbury’s state legislative delegation has joined together to renew calls on Governor Deval Patrick to release $100 million in already authorized Chapter 90 funding for our cities and towns.
In a letter sent to the Governor this past Thursday, Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury), Rep. Tom Calter (D-Kingston) and Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) jointly called for the prompt release of the funds. Chapter 90 monies are used to reimburse towns for local roadway and transportation projects. The legislature voted and approved a $300 million Chapter 90 bond bill earlier this year, however the administration has released only $200 million in funds to date.
The difference for the towns of Duxbury would be significant. At a $200 million funding level Duxbury is eligible for state reimbursements of $541,744. At $300 million, the town would eligible for $812,617, or an additional $270,872. The funds are restricted to local road, bridge and infrastructure projects.
In the letter Duxbury’s legislators wrote, “As you are certainly well aware, this money is crucial to the maintenance and upkeep of the transportation infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth. Our cities and towns have long waited for the remainder of this funding which has been delivered in a piecemeal fashion that has caused difficulties for cities and towns attempting to implement their own budgets and road maintenance plans.”
The transportation funds have already been voted and authorized by the legislature but can only be released by the executive branch. This is not the first time legislators have taken issue with the administration’s handling of the issue.
The Mass. Municipal Association (MMA) and state legislative leaders in both branches have repeatedly voiced their support for the $300 million funding level and called on Governor Patrick to release the money.
"It’s perplexing," said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. “His decision flies in the face of what Chapter 90 is supposed to do for this state. Citizens will drive on local roads. They will continue to be in worse condition."
The administration released $150 million in May and another $50 million at the end of July, but the result is level funding of the program, rather than the $100 million increase the Legislature intended and local officials were expecting. Despite repeated requests since then to release the Chapter 90 funds, the administration has refused, citing other spending priorities.
“It is now incumbent thatthe Administration supports the needs of our municipalities by carrying out the funding that we all have promised,” Rep. Cutler, Rep. Calter and Sen. Hedlund wrote. “To deny them funds for vital road projects not only steps back from our joint commitment to improve our transportation infrastructure, but also our commitment to support local funding to our partner cities and towns.”
The letter to Governor Patrick was originally authored by Rep. Peter Durant of Worcester and is co-signed by more than 40 state legislators.
On Wednesday evening I testified in support of a Pembroke project to bring sidewalks and roadway improvements to Route 36. The Patriot Ledger has a good summary of the hearing below.
Redesign of Route 36 in Pembroke takes shape
PEMBROKE —A 2-mile stretch of one of the state’s shortest highways, Route 36, will be getting a makeover in the next few years, providing safer travels for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. On Wednesday, the state Department of Transportation held a public hearing on the proposed redesign of Route 36, or Center Street, between Route 14 and Route 27. READ MORE.