Gov. Charlie Baker today signed a Chapter 90 bond bill for fiscal 2023 that appropriates $200 million for the local road maintenance program and provides an additional $150 million for other municipal grant programs related to roadwork.

The governor signed the bill a day after it was passed by the House and Senate.

The grant funding in the bill (H. 4638) includes:
• $30 million for the Municipal Small Bridge Program
• $30 million for Complete Streets
• $40 million for design, construction, repair and improvements on non-federally aided roads and bridges, including state routes and municipal roads
• $25 million to improve bus stops and stations
• $25 million for mass transit and commuter rail stations and parking lots, and related enhancements

The Chapter 90 reimbursement program was created in 1973 to provide support to all 351 cities and towns to maintain 30,000 miles of local roads and hundreds of bridges. Apportionments are calculated based on local road miles, employment and population.

The MMA and local officials have long advocated for swift passage of a Chapter 90 bill and an increase to $300 million per year, indexed to inflation. The MMA has also been requesting a multiyear bill to help cities and towns better plan for use of the funds.

The MMA’s recently updated biennial statewide survey shows that cities and towns need $600 million in Chapter 90 funding to adequately fund municipal road and bridge projects. Base funding for the program, however, has been level-funded at $200 million per year since fiscal 2012. The MMA calculates that the program’s purchasing power has decreased by 42.6% over the past 11 years.

Passage of the $100 million winter road recovery program in April, an MMA priority, provided much-needed interim funding to assist cities and towns in addressing road funding needs.

[Update: An associated bill setting the terms of the bond issuance was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Aug. 5. Approval of the terms bill is necessary for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to issue reimbursements to municipalities on qualifying fiscal 2023 projects. Both the terms bill and the Chapter 90 bill included emergency preambles that enabled them to take effect immediately upon being signed by the governor.]

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