Mass. lawmakers want to focus funding on repairing small bridges

Updated Jul 16, 2016
Massachusetts State House (Photo: A Travel Broad)Massachusetts State House (Photo: A Travel Broad)

Massachusetts lawmakers want to start a new “Small Bridge Program” to focus on repairing municipally owned bridges less than 20 feet in length that don’t qualify for federal funding and rural towns can’t afford to repair, reports. These bridges don’t qualify for federal funding because of their size, and many rural towns can’t afford fix them.

“Anyone of these bridges could be around $100,000 to $120,000, and maybe even equal to that amount in the engineering of it,” State Highway Administrator Tom Tinlin told the news agency. “Some municipalities, especially in the western part of the state—that would eat up their entire Chapter 90 allotment.”

According to the report, the program would cost taxpayers $10 million per year for five years, for a total of $50 million. Cities and towns would have to apply for the program, and projects would be chosen based on financial need. Many smaller bridges have fallen into disrepair and are reaching the point where they can no longer handle the weight of traffic and might have to be closed.

Victoria Sclafani, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Municipal Association, explains that it’s critical these bridges remain open. â€śIt’s not only an inconvenience, but it can also be a problem for public safety, such as public safety vehicles, ambulances, and police having to take alternative routes,” she told the news agency.

House lawmakers approved funding for the program, but the Senate has yet to take it up.