Resolution on Transportation Finance and Administration (2011)

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
As adopted by the members on January 22, 2011.

Whereas, the cities and towns of Massachusetts have the responsibility of maintaining in safe and passable condition more than 90 percent of all roadways in the Commonwealth, and a large and growing inventory of bridges, sidewalks and intersections; and

Whereas, well-constructed and properly maintained roadways are an essential part of a healthy and growing economy and are necessary to ensure the safety of Massachusetts motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, and all others who travel in our state; and

Whereas, local property tax revenues collected under the strict limits of Proposition 2 1/2 are necessary to support local schools and other vital municipal services and are not sufficient to fund local roadway programs; and

Whereas, the state levies a 21-cent-per-gallon gas tax (adopted in 1991) for the purpose of supporting state and local transportation programs; and

Whereas, the current Chapter 90 authorization remains at approximately the same amount of more than a decade ago and has not been adjusted to keep pace with increases in the cost of materials and labor; and

Whereas, the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission, created by the Legislature, found that the Chapter 90 program has been under-funded, with a 20-year gap of more than $1 billion; and

Whereas, the cities and towns of Massachusetts need an adequate amount of Chapter 90 authorizations in order to meet the local roadway needs [MMA analysis has determined that the actual need is at least $300 million annually]; and

Whereas, the Chapter 90 bond authorization in the 2008 state transportation bond act is nearly exhausted; and

Whereas, the President is expected to file a transportation funding proposal next year to extend and update the federal surface transportation act (SAFETEA-LU);

Therefore it is hereby resolved by the members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association as follows:

• The state must fairly share gas tax collections with the cities and towns of Massachusetts to help pay for local road projects; and

• The governor and the Legislature must make enactment of a new state transportation bond act an early priority in the 2011-2012 legislative session, with a three-year Chapter 90 authorization of not less than $900 million; and

• The governor should take action to permanently schedule at least $300 million annually in the state’s ongoing five-year capital spending plan; and

• The governor should distribute at least $300 million in Chapter 90 spending authorizations in fiscal 2012, supported by a new state transportation bond act; and

• The Massachusetts Department of Transportation should distribute Chapter 90 “availability of funds” letters and contracts for fiscal 2012 by April 1 prior to the construction season; and

• The Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Highway Division should rescind the “cost overrun” policy that assigns responsibility to the host city or town for overruns of more than 10 percent on local projects for which the Department of Transportation has taken control; and

• The President should propose and Congress should reauthorize a six-year federal transportation funding act (SAFETEA-LU), including an adequate level of federal funding for Massachusetts projects and programs and a meaningful role for local governments in transportation planning; and

• The new federal transportation law must provide more federal regulatory flexibility to allow local governments to use federal highway and transit funds in ways that best meet local needs, provide small cities and rural communities with the option to receive funds directly, allow municipalities to set their own priorities in transportation investment, and provide cities and towns with greater voice and flexibility in influencing transportation plans that satisfy local needs and objectives; and

• A copy of this resolution shall be presented to the governor, the members of the Massachusetts Legislature, and the members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation on behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth.