State Senate votes to invest in transportation

Submitted by State Senator Michael Barrett

Mike-Barrett-logoThanks to the help of local legislator Mike Barrett, the Massachusetts Senate has passed a bill authorizing $13 billion in capital spending over five years to fund improvements to the state’s transportation system.

“Investing in transportation will pay dividends for our state’s economy.  A better system will attract new businesses, improve commutes and make our infrastructure safer,” said Barrett.  “On top of that, these capital expenditures will help the environment by promoting public transportation and improving biking and walking conditions.

The bill includes $1.5 billion in spending over the next five years for the Chapter 90 program which funds local roads and bridge repairs.  Cities and towns will now be notified of their Chapter 90 appropriation each year before March 1st.

Bicyclists and pedestrians see support through the authorization of $50 million for the Complete Streets Program, which takes a wide angle look at how to best integrate biking and walking paths with roadways.

The bond bill also creates a grant program for municipalities to promote all kinds of transportation — walking, cycling, public transportation, automobiles and freight.

For snow and ice removal, the bill allows the Department of Transportation to spend $50 million more than their available funds in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

The capital plan also includes:

  • $1.9 billion for interstate/non-interstate federal highways, which is approximately 80 percent federally reimbursable;
  • $2.2 billion for non-federally aided roads and bridges;
  • $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;
  • $80 million for the statewide rail access program;
  • $63 million for Registry of Motor Vehicles modernization;
  • $146.5 million for information technology at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

In addition, it de-authorizes $2 billion from previous transportation bond bills not spent within 90 days after the bill goes into effect.

The Senate and House will now produce a compromise bill for final passage and consideration of the governor.

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