MMA requests $300M Chapter 90 bond authorization for fiscal 2018

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Julie Jacobson and William Coyle discuss Chapter 90 needs at meeting of LGAC​At the Nov. 9 meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission, the MMA asked the Baker administration to file a multi-year Chapter 90 bond bill at a funding level of $300 million per year.
MMA Board member and Auburn Town Manager Julie Jacobson said the $300 million level annually would help cities and towns more properly fund local road and bridge maintenance programs.
The MMA has long advocated for a Chapter 90 authorization of $300 million per year, which would get municipalities closer to being able to keep roads in a state of good repair, the industry standard.
A multi-year bond bill would enable municipalities to plan ahead and use resources efficiently. For example, communities would be better able to use pavement management systems to mitigate repair costs.
At the LGAC meeting, Auburn Public Works Director William Coyle explained his town’s system for tracking and managing its roadway investments to use limited resources efficiently. Coyle said Auburn is able to contribute some town funds toward road and bridge improvements, but not all cities and towns have the resources to do so. The town is in the sixth year of a 20-year plan, he said.
“Without adequate funding, we’re going to have a hard time keeping the program going,” he said.
He said Auburn is working to transition fully to a road maintenance program, where the cost per mile is much lower than for reconstruction.
A Chapter 90 increase would help cities and towns properly maintain more local roads rather than having to rebuild them. Studies show that having adequate resources for maintenance saves money over time.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the administration knows the importance of Chapter 90 to cities and towns and has included Chapter 90 in its five-year Capital Investment Plan, which funds the program at $200 million annually.
Local officials also stressed the importance of releasing Chapter 90 funds by April 1, to avoid delays in the construction season.
The MMA recently completed its 2016 Chapter 90 survey, though results are still being tabulated. The MMA received responses from more than 200 communities about the amount they need annually to keep local roads in a state of good repair. The survey also asked about local capital plans, pavement management programs, and supplementing Chapter 90 funds with local revenue or borrowing.
The MMA’s 2014 survey found that cities and towns need $639 million annually to keep 30,000 miles of local roads in a state of good repair. Preliminary results from the 2016 survey indicate these needs increased by about 9.6 percent since 2014.