Mount Washington Selectman Jim Lovejoy discusses the Chapter 90 bond bill at the meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission at the State House. Leominster Councillor Claire Freda looks on.

The MMA has concluded its biennial statewide Chapter 90 Local Road Funding survey, which compiles the local road funding needs of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns.

Thanks to responses from more than 70 percent of the state’s cities and towns, the MMA used reliable data factors to calculate a statewide total need of $685 million per year for municipalities to bring their local roads and bridges to a state of good repair. This total is a nearly 9 percent increase over the results of the 2016 survey.

The survey asked each community for the total annual road construction budget amount – including both state aid through the Chapter 90 program and other funds – that would be required to maintain local roads in a state of good repair (the industry standard) and fund other Chapter 90 eligible projects.

Communities were also asked whether they use a pavement management system as way of tracking necessary road and bridge maintenance and repairs. And communities were asked to report any additional appropriated local revenue or authorized borrowing for construction projects in fiscal 2018 or fiscal 2019.

According to the survey, about half of the state’s communities use a pavement management system. More than half of survey respondents appropriated additional funds in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019, while about a quarter of respondents authorized borrowing for fiscal 2018 and/or fiscal 2019.

The results of the survey are being used to advocate for an increase in Chapter 90 funding – specifically, the filing of a multiyear bond bill with at least $300 million per year, indexed to inflation. In addition, the MMA would like to see a Chapter 90 bill filed early, in January, when the governor files his state budget recommendation. Passage of an adequate, multiyear bill remains a top MMA priority.

Municipalities are responsible for 30,000 miles of roadways, or more than 90 percent of the public road miles in Massachusetts. The Chapter 90 program, designed to share state gas tax revenues with cities and towns so they can maintain vital infrastructure, has been held flat at $200 million annually for years, while the cost of materials, labor and construction have been rising, creating a substantial gap between the local need and actual funding for the program.

For most cities and towns, Chapter 90 is the primary or sole source of funds for local road construction and repair. Local officials maintain that Chapter 90 is a key program to improve quality of life, public safety and economic development in every community across the state.

The MMA Chapter 90 survey was sent to chief municipal officers and public works officials in all 351 municipalities. The MMA included each community’s response to the 2016 MMA survey and its Chapter 90 authorization for 2018.

For more information on Chapter 90 or the survey, contact Ariela Lovett at alovett@mma.org or Alandra Champion at achampion@mma.org.

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