The House and Senate have both approved a bond bill that would provide $200 million for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program for fiscal 2020.

The one-year transportation bill was filed by the Gov. Charlie Baker in January and remained unchanged as it passed through the legislative process. The bill is a procedural step away from being sent to the governor, who is expected to sign it.

At hearings this spring before the Joint Transportation Committee and separate House and Senate Bonding Committees, the MMA reiterated its call for a multiyear Chapter 90 bond authorization of at least $300 million per year, indexed to inflation.

The MMA has consistently asked for early filing, review and approval of a Chapter 90 bill. April 1 is the customary date for finalizing the Chapter 90 bond authorization, so that communities can take advantage of the full construction season and better manage project costs.

Although Chapter 90 is a reimbursement program, municipalities are not supposed to begin construction before the governor signs the bond authorization and allocation amounts are finalized. Municipal officials have received a preliminary notice of their estimated Chapter 90 allocation, but it is subject to the final bond authorization.

In mid-May, the governor announced that he is developing a separate large transportation bond bill, to be filed within a month or two. The MMA is pursuing opportunities to provide input during the development of this bill, to reflect municipal transportation needs.

Municipalities are responsible for the maintenance of 30,000 miles of local roads and more than 2,500 bridges. A statewide analysis by the MMA in 2018 documented that cities and towns need $685 million per year to keep local roads and bridges in a state of good repair (a best practice standard for maintaining capital assets).

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