Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announces Chapter 90 legislation at Local Government Advisory Commission meeting on Feb. 13
On Feb. 13, Gov. Charlie Baker filed a $200 million, one-year bond bill to fund the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced the filing of the legislation at a meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission on the same day, saying that the request would bring the total amount of Chapter 90 funds released by the administration to $900 million since January 2015.
In December, the MMA asked Gov. Baker to file a multi-year Chapter 90 bond bill with at least $300 million per year. 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.
A statewide survey conducted by the MMA in 2014 shows that cities and towns need at least $639 million annually in order to maintain roads in a state of good repair. Cities and towns are responsible for maintaining 30,000 miles of local roads.
The governor’s Chapter 90 bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on Transportation. The Transportation Committee and the House and Senate bonding committees typically hold public hearings on Chapter 90 legislation prior to passage of a bill.
The MMA has urged the governor and the Legislature to begin the Chapter 90 process as soon as possible so that cities and towns can receive Chapter 90 authorizations by April 1, in time for the full construction season. Construction bid responses tend to be more expensive when Chapter 90 authorizations are delayed and communities are forced to bid, award and start work on projects in a significantly shortened construction season.
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.