By Bob Katzen
House 155-0, approved and sent to the Senate a nearly $11 billion transportation and infrastructure package that includes $400 million for the MBTA to address safety problems identified by the Federal Transit Administration’s Safety Management Inspection and $250 million for initial steps toward a western Massachusetts rail extension.
Other provisions include $2.8 billion for projects on the interstate and non-interstate federal highway system; $82 million for rail improvements; $1 billion for transit system modernization and rail improvements; $114 million for the Airport Improvement Program; and $200 million to create an extensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure, fund programs that promote e-bikes, public transportation and carsharing; replace high-emissions vehicles; and acquire electric school buses.
House members filed more than 300 amendments, many dealing with local projects in legislators’ home districts, but there was little debate and not a single roll call vote on any individual amendment. Instead, members made their cases behind closed doors to the leadership and all the amendments that were given the green light by the leadership ended up in one gigantic consolidated mega amendment with a price tag estimated at $500 million.
“Ensuring that the commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure is adequately funded is a top priority for the House, which is why I’m proud of the legislation passed today,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “In addition to significant funding for roadway and bridge projects, this bill also recognizes the importance of providing further support for the MBTA in their ongoing effort to address safety concerns and for the ever-important East-West Rail project.”
“This legislation sets the table for the next administration to take full advantage of the additional billions of dollars, both state and federal, for critical transportation projects throughout the state,” said Rep. Bill Straus (D- Mattapoisett), House chair of the Committee on Transportation. “The House has wisely used the bill as an opportunity to again demonstrate its commitment to roads, bridges and public transit.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the package).
Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven Yes