Massachusetts bill to boost local transportation funds moves forward

July 9, 2021

Keith Goble

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Work continues at the Massachusetts statehouse to address local transportation projects.

The Senate voted unanimously to advance an amended bill to finance $200 million in improvements to municipally owned roads and bridges. The funds would come from the state’s Chapter 90 program for transportation infrastructure.

House lawmakers already approved the bill by unanimous consent, but the chamber versions differ on other grant funding.

Chapter 90 grants

Funds authorized via H3903 would be dispersed through Chapter 90 grants.

The grants are sent to towns and cities in Massachusetts to receive reimbursements from the state on approved projects. It is a 100% reimbursable program.

The distribution formula is based on a community’s population, employment and total road miles.

Additional aid for local transportation work

Despite unanimous support in both statehouse chambers, the approved versions differ on other funding for local roads.

Specifically, the Senate version would allot an additional $100 million for four transportation-related municipal grant programs. The amounts would be evenly distributed for bridges, bus transit and local bottleneck reduction, and for electric vehicle grants to municipalities and regional transit authorities.

House lawmakers allotted an additional $75 million for local grant programs. Bridges, bus transit, and municipal mass transit access would each receive $25 million.

The state’s municipal small bridge program now receives $70 million. The program helps fund construction, repairs and improvements to nonfederally aided bridges.

Grants available to municipalities for mass transit now total $25 million.

Advocates say the funds are critical for every city and town across the commonwealth.

“This new Chapter 90 authorization, along with the increased funding that is being made available for municipal grant opportunities in this bill, will go a long way towards assisting cities and towns in addressing their priority transportation needs,” Rep. Bradley Jones Jr, R-North Reading, said in recent remarks.

H3903 likely will head to a conference committee made up of select lawmakers from the House and Senate to work out differences before the bill can move to the governor’s desk. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Massachusetts is available.

 

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.