$350 MILLION FOR ROADS AND BRIDGES AND MORE

By Bob Katzen

The House 156-0, approved and sent to the Senate a $250 million package that includes 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, a bond bill under which the funding would be borrowed by the state through the sale of bonds, also includes $150 million to pay for bus lanes, improvement of public transit, electric vehicles and other state transportation projects.

Supporters said the funding will help cities and towns make their streets and bridges safer for all drivers and will improve the state’s public transportation system. They noted that this funding, known as Chapter 90, is relied on every year by local communities but noted that this is not the only source of local aid for cities and towns.

Geoff Beckwith, the executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, is one of the biggest advocates for more Chapter 90 funding above the $200 million .“We are pleased that Chapter 90 and other important municipal transportation grant programs have been advanced by the House,” said Beckwith. “This is timely action to make sure that these funds are available for the upcoming construction season, and we look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to address the long-term needs for local roads.”

Many local officials across the state continue to advocate for additional money to increase the funding and argue that the cost of repairing roads has increases by up to 40 percent but the state has kept this funding flat at $200 million for the past 11 years.

Rep. Bill Strauss (D-Mattapoisett), the House chair of the Transportation Committee and the sponsor of the bill, did not respond to repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call for a comment.

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