Becket Highway Department employees work on a paving project last summer in the town. (photo courtesy Christopher Bouchard)

The Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets accepted written testimony through May 19 on an $18 billion transportation bond bill (H. 4547) that was passed by the House on March 5.

The bill includes a 50% increase for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, from $200 million to $300 million.

In February, the House took up a stand-alone Chapter 90 bond authorization bill of $200 million. Later, House leadership incorporated the stand-alone Chapter 90 bill into the omnibus transportation bond bill, and increased the authorization to $300 million.

With the construction season well underway, the MMA has been expressing concern about the need for prompt resolution of Chapter 90 authorizations for fiscal 2021. Since the stand-alone Chapter 90 bill was folded into the transportation bond bill, the Legislature cannot act on the Chapter 90 component without also moving the bond bill forward in the legislative process, unless separate action is taken.

The MMA submitted written testimony to the Senate Bonding Committee on the transportation bond bill on May 19.

“The Chapter 90 program is an essential component of municipal capital plans, and communities rely on these funds to keep local roads passable and safe for motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and other roadway users,” the MMA wrote. “Chapter 90 provides necessary resources to maintain and build the 30,000-mile local transportation infrastructure system that serves as the platform for economic development, commerce and growth in every corner of the state. … Chronic underfunding and the lack of a multi-year approach to Chapter 90 are holding back progress in our shared transportation and environmental policy goals.

“We respectfully request that this transportation bond bill move forward as soon as possible, maintaining funding for the targeted municipal grant programs and the long-awaited increase to $300 million for the Chapter 90 program. As Massachusetts seeks to rebuild its economy from the depths of the COVID-19 recession, injecting funds into our transportation and construction industry will create jobs, improve commerce, and enhance safety.”

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