A conference committee was appointed on April 12 to reconcile differences between two pieces of legislation to fund the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program.
Both bills would fund Chapter 90 at $200 million this year, but they differ on the length of the bond authorization.
The House approved a one-year, $200 million Chapter 90 bond bill on April 5. The House bill had been reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Transportation and had a hearing before the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. The MMA submitted testimony in support of a multi-year, $300 million Chapter 90 authorization.
The Senate, meanwhile, approved an amendment from Sen. John Keenan, chair of the Senate Bonding Committee, to extend the length of the Chapter 90 bill. On April 10, the Senate passed a three-year Chapter 90 authorization for a total of $600 million, which would fund the program at $200 million per year.
The House and Senate have appointed a conference committee to work out the differences. The members are Reps. William Straus, Stephen Kulik and David Muradian, and Sens. Joseph Boncore, Keenan and Dean Tran.
In written testimony to the conference committee, the MMA continued its call for a multi-year approach to Chapter 90, with funding of at least $300 million per year. When Chapter 90 authorizations are enacted on a year-to-year basis, the MMA pointed out, there is less predictability regarding the amount and timing of the funds. This makes it difficult for local governments to plan multi-year projects or to know how many years it will take to implement local comprehensive pavement management plans.
A multi-year Chapter 90 program would also mean that cities and towns could receive their Chapter 90 authorizations earlier in the season, at least in the second and subsequent years.
Cities and towns are responsible for maintaining 30,000 miles of local roads. 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 their roads in a state of good repair, the industry standard.
The MMA urged the conference committee to report out a Chapter 90 bill as quickly as possible, so it can be signed into law and cities and towns can begin the construction season.

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