By Bob Katzen
The Senate approved a House-approved $350 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 to be distributed under the Chapter 90 program formula. Only final House and Senate approval are needed prior to the measure going to the governor.
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.
“The commonwealth’s overall transportation system relies on the health of our roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation. “The bill … represents a $350 million investment that will help cities and towns make the improvements they need so that residents can travel safely and efficiently.”
Geoff Beckwith, the executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, is one of the biggest advocates for increased Chapter 90 funding. “With the local road construction season underway, passage of the Chapter 90 bond bill is an important priority so that communities can maximize the number of projects that can be completed this year,” said Beckwith.
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 increased by up to 40 percent while the state has kept this funding flat at $200 million for the past 11 years.