Gov. Maura Healey yesterday filed a two-year, $400 million Chapter 90 bond bill, just days ahead of filing a fiscal 2025 state budget plan that she said would include another $124 million in local road repair funding.

At the MMA Annual Meeting on Jan. 19, the governor said her state budget bill would add $124 million for supplemental local road and bridge funding, with $100 million distributed to all communities using a formula factoring population, road miles and employment, and $24 million targeted for rural communities.

The two bills would total $324 million for fiscal 2025, essentially matching the current year’s total for local road and bridge maintenance. Authorizations for the current year include $200 million for Chapter 90, supplemented by $100 million from the state budget and $25 million from a transportation bond law for a new rural roads program.

The governor’s fiscal 2025 Chapter 90 bill would authorize $200 million per year for two years for the reimbursement program. In her cover letter, the governor said she “is seeking a two-year authorization to provide cities and towns with sufficient time to put the funds to work.”

The MMA has long advocated for a multi-year Chapter 90 authorization, along with a significant increase in funding. At the 2024 MMA Annual Meeting, members approved a fiscal resolution that advocates for at least $350 million per year in a multi-year authorization, indexed to inflation. The resolution also supports specific funding for rural roads.

Base Chapter 90 funding has been level-funded at $200 million per year since fiscal 2012, despite increases in road construction costs that have significantly eroded the program’s purchasing power. The MMA’s most recent statewide survey shows that cities and towns need $715 million per year in Chapter 90 funding to adequately maintain 30,000 miles of local roads and hundreds of bridges.

The $100 million appropriated for municipal road and bridge projects this year through the state budget uses revenue from the voter-approved state surtax on incomes over $1 million, which must be dedicated to transportation and education programs. This funding was released to municipalities through their Chapter 90 accounts in December. Half of the municipal apportionments were based on total locally owned road miles, and half were based on the Chapter 90 formula.

Also for the current fiscal year, the additional $25 million for the new rural roads supplemental program will go to communities with fewer than 10,000 residents and a population density below 500 people per square mile. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is working with the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation to develop a formula to apportion the rural roads funding. Under the statute, the Transportation Committee may hold a public hearing regarding the proposed formula.

The MMA is asking the Legislature to act on Chapter 90 funding early in the legislative session, so municipalities can access this essential funding for the start of the construction season.

The Chapter 90 program was launched more than 50 years ago to help municipalities maintain municipal roads and bridges. Apportionments are allocated through a formula that accounts for local road miles, employment and population.

Written by