MMA letter to Senate Bonding Committee urges passage of bond bill with bridge funding

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The Honorable John Keenan, Chair
The Honorable Sonia Chang-Diaz, Vice Chair
Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets 
State House, Boston

Dear Senator Keenan, Senator Chang-Diaz, and Distinguished Committee Members,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing to offer our strong support for H. 4416, An Act Financing Improvements to Municipal Roads and Bridges. This bill contains a bond authorization for a municipal small bridge program to provide much-needed funding for the design, construction, preservation, reconstruction and repair of non- federally aided bridges.

Cities and towns are responsible for maintaining and replacing approximately 1,300 municipal small bridges with span lengths between 10 and 20 feet. Funded at $50 million over five years, this program would allow for a maximum reimbursement of $500,000 per year per municipality to assist with the cost of reconstructing and repairing these bridges. The MMA is advocating for a process that includes a regional distribution factor so that communities in every corner of the Commonwealth would have access to the funds.

Failing bridges cause serious public safety and economic development issues. If a bridge needs to be closed due to unsafe conditions, ambulances, fire trucks and other public safety vehicles are forced to take alternate, often longer, routes to reach 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.

In addition to the bond authorization for the municipal small bridge program, this bill contains language that would streamline the Complete Streets program to make it consistent MassDOT’s planned implementation. The Complete Streets program encourages cities and towns to redesign and modernize streets to accommodate all types of users. So far, more than 200 communities have participated in Complete Streets training to learn more about the initiative and this language would simplify the requirements to make it easier for communities to participate.

Investing in our infrastructure is essential if we want to build a stronger economy and ensure public safety, and the small bridge program and Complete Streets program would provide a much-needed infusion of funds to address a significant need at the local level. We respectfully request that the Senate 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