The Massachusetts State Legislature Thursday enacted a $12.766 billion transportation finance bill to bolster the state’s transportation systems, improve existing infrastructure and assist Massachusetts’ communities in funding local projects.
The bond bill authorizes $300 million in Chapter 90 funding to help municipalities across the state complete road, bridge and infrastructure improvement projects, and requires earlier notification of funding levels so cities and towns can prepare appropriately. This marks the eighth consecutive year that the Legislature has either raised or level-funded Chapter 90.
The bill now goes to Governor Deval Patrick for his consideration.
“I was happy to join my colleagues in the Legislature to pass the Transportation Bond Bill, and delighted that it will have a direct impact on transportation in the Middlesex District,” said Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) in a statement released Friday morning. “It is excellent to see a bill that addresses transportation issues across the Commonwealth, as it allocates funds for both public transportation expansion, and local transportation related projects. Each of these improvement projects will certainly have long-lasting impacts on the state’s entire transportation infrastructure system.”
“Transportation improvements and Chapter 90 funds are essential to providing stability and spurring economic growth in Massachusetts,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said in the same statement. “That growth starts on the local level which is why the House is an unyielding champion of municipalities across the state. The funding in this bill builds upon last year’s transportation finance legislation which is resulting in sustainable, lasting changes. I thank my colleagues in the House, Senate President Murray and the conferees for their work on this crucial legislation.”
Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said the continued success of the state’s economy relies on the legislature’s commitment to a strong transportation system.
“This transportation bond bill goes a long way in meeting many of the Commonwealth’s transportation needs including expanding rail access for more regions,” Murray said in the statement. “Our towns and cities depend on these funds to make critical reforms to their infrastructure and support new projects, and this bill will create many new job opportunities which is critical to promoting economic development across the entire state.”
The legislation will improve and modernize the state’s infrastructure system through projects including:
- $2.97 billion for state-wide non-federally aided road and bridge projects;
- $1.9 billion for interstate/non-interstate federal highways;
- $125 million for the Department of Conservation and Recreation for repairs, improvements, construction of parkways and related equipment;
- $24 million for the mobility assistance program and regional intercity bus and intermodal services;
- $350 million in investments for Regional Transit Authority improvements as well as other state-wide enhancements to rail service and new regional transit authority facilities.
- $2 million for the North-South Rail Link;
- $2.5 billion for MBTA rail improvements including new Red and Orange Line cars, $1.33 billion to extend the Green Line;
- $80 million for the statewide rail access program;
- $325 million for an expansion of South Station, to be re-named the Governor Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center at South Station;
- $2.3 billion for South Coast rail improvements, creating a South Coast rail mitigation program to assist communities impacted by the South Coast rail project;
- $50 million to support a complete streets certification program to encourage cities and towns to implement design elements and infrastructure to accommodate users of all transportation modes, including walking, cycling and public transportation;
- $63 million for Registry of Motor Vehicles modernization and improvements;
- Doubling the penalty for MBTA fare evasion; and,
- Requiring Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to make its annual report available online.
The bill also includes numerous provisions designed to result in savings and efficiency improvements including the creation of a special Commission to study metropolitan planning organizations and advise on potential ways to simplify and streamline the federally-mandated project selection process.