Mass. Gov. Baker signs local transportation infrastructure bill

Updated Aug 16, 2016
Photo Credit: Flickr user J. Stephen ConnPhoto Credit: Flickr user J. Stephen Conn

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker this week signed into law legislation providing $50 million for a bridge program, expansion of the Complete Streets Funding Program and authorization for $750 million in federal highway aid.

Baker vetoed a portion of the legislation that called for the state to apply for a pilot program on a vehicle miles traveled tax, which would have helped the state determine the viability of such a program to replace the gas tax.

“We recognize the important role transportation infrastructure plays in the strength of our communities and economy,” Baker says. “I am pleased to sign this legislation providing additional support for our cities and towns to focus on important local projects and accessibility.”

H. 4424 provides for the Municipal Small Bridge Program, which authorizes $50 million for five years. It will support roughly 1,500 bridges in the state spanning between 10 and 20 feet that are not eligible for federal aid from existing programs. The bridges covered also are considered at “high risk” for full or partial closure, at up to $500,000 per year, per municipality to be used for administration, design and construction work.

The legislation also provides to the Complete Streets Funding Program up to $50,000 for technical assistance and $400,000 in construction costs for communities to plan and incorporate best practices in the design and build of “safe modes” of public travel. The program was launched with $12.5 million in funding earlier this year.

Baker’s signature also initiated an authorization request for $750 million for the federal aid highway program. Massachusetts would be responsible for $135 million and “a change bringing bonds issued for the Rail Enhancement Program in line with similar projects like the Accelerated Bridge Program by making them exempt from the statutory debt limit.”

“Some projects can be game changers for citizens, and the Baker-Polito Administration aims through these programs to help communities preserve, refurbish, and rebuild small bridges or invest in accessibility for the people who live, work and attend school nearby,” says Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Sec. and CEO Stephanie Pollack.  “These programs are among the many examples of the administration’s partnership with cities and towns to ensure positive local impacts and vitality.”