A one-year, $200 million bond bill for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, filed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Feb. 13, is moving through the legislative process.
The Joint Committee on Transportation reported out the legislation in mid-March, after hearings on the bill (H. 4237) had to be cancelled due to weather.
In a letter to the Transportation Committee, the MMA urged legislators to pass a multi-year, $300 million Chapter 90 bond bill, and to do so “as soon as possible, so that the measure can be signed into law by the April 1 deadline, and cities and towns can begin the construction season on time.”
The MMA presented similar testimony at a March 22 hearing before the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.
The Bonding Committee gave the $200 million bill a favorable report, and the full House was expected to take up the bill in the first week of April. The bill will then be sent to the Senate, which will have to pass it before it goes to the governor’s desk.
The MMA has long supported and advocated for a substantial increase in the Chapter 90 program, which helps cities and towns fund qualifying road and bridge maintenance projects that are key to economic development and quality of life.
Local officials argue that a multi-year Chapter 90 bill would allow communities to plan more effectively at the local level by bringing predictability and certainty regarding funding authorizations and timing. Communities are able to design multi-year projects and implement pavement management plans more effectively when they know what their Chapter 90 authorizations will be in future years.
A statewide survey conducted by the MMA in 2014 shows that cities and towns need at least $639 million per year in order to maintain roads in a state of good repair. Cities and towns are responsible for maintaining 30,000 miles of local roads.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito discussed the filing of the legislation at the Feb. 14 meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission, saying that the request would bring the total amount of Chapter 90 funds released by the administration since January 2015 to $900 million.

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