Gov. announces plan to file $200M Chapter 90 bill

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At the opening session of MMA’s Annual Meeting & Trade Show on Jan. 19, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that he will be filing a bill with $200 million for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program.
 
In his remarks to 1,000 local officials from across the state, he did not specify whether he will file a one-year or a multi-year bill.
 
In a Dec. 12 letter, the MMA asked Gov. Baker to file a multi-year Chapter 90 bond bill for at least $300 million per year as soon as possible. The MMA and local officials across the state are continuing to push for a substantial increase in the vital Chapter 90 program, which helps cities and towns fund road and bridge repair and 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.
 
The MMA has urged the governor and the Legislature to begin the Chapter 90 process as soon as possible, in order to make sure that cities and towns receive Chapter 90 funds by April 1, in time for the full construction season. Construction bid responses tend to be more expensive if Chapter 90 authorizations are delayed and communities are forced to bid, award and start work on projects in a significantly shortened construction season.
 
As a long-standing policy, the MMA has advocated for an increase in Chapter 90 funding to $300 million annually. A statewide survey conducted by the MMA in 2014 found that cities and towns need $639 million annually to keep 30,000 miles of local roads in a state of good repair.
 
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation reimburses cities and towns for costs incurred for eligible transportation projects through the Chapter 90 program. Chapter 90 funding is distributed to cities and towns through a formula that takes into account population, road miles and employment.