By Bob Katzen
The House 156-0, Senate 40-0, approved and the governor signed into law Senate a bill authorizing $200 million in one-time funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges in cities and towns across the state. The package is a bond bill under which the funding would be borrowed by the state through the sale of bonds.
Other provisions include $200 million for rail improvements and $1.5 billion in bonding to allow for federal interstate repairs to advance. According to officials, 80 percent of the $1.5 billion would be reimbursed by the federal government.
Supporters said the $200 million would help cities and towns keep their roads and bridges safe and allow many vital municipal road projects to move forward.
No one voted against the bill but there are some legislators and city and town officials who say the same old $200 million that has been given since fiscal 2012 is insufficient. For several years, the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) has been seeking to increase the amount to $300 million.
Advocates say that cities and towns maintain and repair 90 percent of the roadways in the Bay State. They note that because of revenue caps imposed by Proposition 2 1/2, cities and towns are very dependent on state funding to keep roads and bridges from crumbling.