By Bob Katzen
Senate 40-0, approved a bill 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 $350 million 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 lane improvements, improvement of public transit, electric vehicles and other state transportation projects. The House has approved a different version and the Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.
Supporters said the funding, known as Chapter 90 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 the money is relied on every year by local communities.
“This legislation will maintain and improve our state’s infrastructure, ensure that residents have safe and reliable transportation options and support sustainable, regionally equitable economic development in communities across the commonwealth,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland).
“Our transportation system is the backbone of our commonwealth, connecting us to our jobs, families and communities,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation. “This investment is not just an investment in infrastructure, but an investment in the future of our commonwealth, enabling our cities and towns to make the necessary improvements to promote efficient and safe travel for all.”
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 grateful that the Senate has moved so quickly on this important legislation,” said Beckwith. “Cities and towns are anxious to begin the road construction season, and are waiting for this necessary infusion of funds. Communities are facing huge cost pressures as they seek to maintain 30,000 miles of local roads, so we hope the Legislature can send the best bill possible to the governor as soon as possible, as a first step in investing in the massive infrastructure needs at the local level.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the $350 million package.)
Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes