As announced during the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting, Gov. Charlie Baker filed legislation on Jan. 26 seeking $200 million for the Chapter 90 local road maintenance program for fiscal 2023.

His bill (H. 4358) has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Transportation, where it awaits an initial hearing.

Base Chapter 90 funding has remained flat at $200 million since 2012, and the MMA and local officials have been calling for an increase to at least $300 million per year, indexed to inflation, for the past several years.

In recent years, the state has added several targeted, competitive grant funding opportunities for municipalities, distributed through the Department of Transportation. But the MMA has argued in testimony before the Legislature and to the Baker-Polito administration that “there is no substitute for the core Chapter 90 program,” which is “the only non-competitive program that maintains local control over how to spend the dollars on local road projects” and the only one that benefits all 351 cities and towns.

In defending its Chapter 90 proposal, the administration highlights supplemental grant programs such as Complete Streets, Shared Streets and Spaces, the Municipal Small Bridge Program, the Municipal Pavement Program, and the Local Bottleneck Reduction program. In a statement announcing the Chapter 90 bill, Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler said the grant programs have “not only provided a generational investment directly to communities, but helped repair and modernize the transportation network of the Commonwealth.”

According to the MMA’s analysis, Chapter 90 dollars have lost 40% of their purchasing power since 2012 as a result of construction cost inflation. That’s an effective loss of $80 million in purchasing power over the past decade. The MMA’s most recent biennial survey of local road funding needs found that municipalities would need at least $600 million to maintain local roads and bridges in a state of good repair.

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