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MMA, local officials continue push on Ch. 90 funding

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Local officials testifyLocal officials yesterday urged the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation to provide $300 million for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program.

Last week, the Patrick administration filed a $1.5 billion bond bill that includes $200 million for Chapter 90 for fiscal 2013, which would match last year.

At the hearing, MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong, Danvers Assistant Town Manager Diane Norris, and Massachusetts Highway Association Vice President Michael Valenti said the need is greater.

Norris, who chairs the MMA’s Policy Committee on Transportation and Public Works, said there is “clear documentation,” referring to a recent MMA survey, that at least $300 million is required to support basic road and bridge needs. She reiterated a point made at the Local Government Advisory Commission meeting last month that while the MBTA has garnered headlines for its $161 million deficit, cities and towns are facing a $1.3 billion shortfall for transportation infrastructure.

“Almost as important as the money, and maybe more,” she said, “is the commitment to a long-term solution.”

The local officials also urged lawmakers to pass a bond bill quickly to ensure that cities are towns can be notified of their authorization amounts by April 1, in time for the start of the spring construction season. Last year, the Legislature passed a bond bill on time, but the administration did not file a “terms bill” until mid-June, delaying the actual disbursement of funds until August.
Written by MMA Publications Editor & Web Director John Ouellette