In letter to House Bonding Committee, MMA urges passage of small bridge program

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The Honorable Antonio F.D. Cabral, Chairman
House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets 
State House, Boston

Dear Chairman Cabral and Members of the Committee,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing to offer our strong support for the small bridge program included in H. 4057, An Act Financing Improvements to Municipal Roads and Bridges.

The small bridge program would provide much-needed funding for the design, construction, preservation, reconstruction and repair of non-federally aided bridges. There are approximately 1,300 municipal small bridges across the state with span lengths between 10 and 20 feet that cities and towns are responsible for maintaining and replacing. Funded at $50 million over five years, this program would allow for a maximum reimbursement of $500,000 per year per municipality.

It is the MMA’s understanding that projects would be chosen based on a number of criteria, including a municipality’s financial need and the structural deficiency of a bridge. The program is targeted towards bridges that are at high risk for closure in the future, due to their condition. The MMA also supports a process that includes a regional distribution factor so that communities in every corner of the Commonwealth could have access to the funds.

When bridges fall into disrepair, it creates a safety hazard and impedes economic development. If a bridge needs to be closed due to unsafe conditions, ambulances, fire trucks and other public safety vehicles are forced to take alternative, often longer, routes to get to their destinations. Closed bridges or bridges that are not in a state of good repair also impact residents, tourism, commuters, and the delivery of services. Maintaining this vital infrastructure is a top priority for cities and towns.

Investing in our infrastructure is essential if we want to build a stronger economy and ensure public safety, and the small bridge program would provide a much-needed infusion of funds to address a significant need at the local level. We respectfully request that the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets advance this legislation as soon as possible.

Thank you very much for your support and dedication to our cities and towns. 

Sincerely,

Geoffrey C. Beckwith 
MMA Executive Director & CEO