By Bob Katzen
The Senate, on a voice vote without a roll call, approved a bill that includes $300 million for cities and towns for the maintenance, repair and improvement of local roads and bridges. The $300 million is $100 million more than the $200 million the state allocated last year. The House has already approved the $300 million as part of a larger bill authorizing the state to borrow $18 billion for transportation projects and infrastructure over the next ten years.
The legislation also establishes a new seven-member MBTA Board of Directors to succeed the current Fiscal Management and Control Board. The MBTA Board of Directors will be responsible for governing and exercising the corporate powers of the MBTA. The Senate version differs from the Houseversion which does not create a brand-new MBTA board but instead extends and expands the existing Fiscal and Management Control Board.
“Each unique geographic area of the commonwealth will benefit from this legislation,” said Sen. Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop), the Senate chair of the Transportation Committee. “It was critical that this bill address immediate needs while the Senate continues to work on long-term improvements to our transportation system. This $300 million investment will kickstart the economy by financing critical local infrastructure projects to advance our statewide transportation system. This legislation not only improves the experiences of those on our roads, but also those who depend on train and bus service.”
“I believe we need a reliable, sustainable, safe, accessible and equitable transportation system in this commonwealth, and this legislation puts us on the right path to achieving that goal,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “As a proponent of regional equity in transportation, I am thrilled to assist our cities and towns with increased funding for infrastructure projects. I also look forward to seeing the formation of the new MBTA Board of Directors and working with this new inclusive body on shaping a true 21st century transit system.”
“We applaud the State Senate for supporting annual funding of $300 … to repair and maintain local roads across Massachusetts,” said the group Transportation for Massachusetts. “The program has historically been funded at a lower amount of $200 million, making it harder for cities and towns to keep up with necessary roadway maintenance and improvements that allow for safer streets for everyone.”