The Senate today passed a Chapter 90 bond bill that would level-fund the local road and bridge program at $200 million for fiscal 2024, while also authorizing a total of $150 million for six transportation-related programs.

The Senate bill resembles the bill passed by the House (H. 3547) a week earlier, with the exception of a change in one of the added programs.

Rather than $25 million that the House proposed for the Municipal Pavement Program, the Senate proposes $25 million in new road maintenance funding targeting small and rural communities. The funding formula would be based on road mileage and population density, with prioritization given to municipalities with low population density.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill include $25 million bond authorizations for each of the following multi-year transportation-related accounts:
Municipal Small Bridge Program
Complete Streets Funding Program
• Municipal grants for infrastructure focused on the enhancement of mass transit by bus
• Funding for study, design, construction or improvements that increase access to mass transit and commuter rail stations
• Grants to municipalities and regional transit authorities to support fleet electrification

The House and Senate are now expected to move quickly to reconcile the differences between the two bills.

Gov. Maura Healey got this year’s Chapter 90 bond authorization process started on Jan. 19 when she filed a two-year bill totalling $400 million, or $200 million per year. The Legislature revised the bill to authorize bonding for only one year at $200 million.

The MMA, along with a number of municipal officials, testified before the Joint Committee on Transportation on March 7 in support of the two-year authorization proposed by Healey, and requested an increase to at least $330 million per year, indexed to inflation.

The MMA also submitted written testimony to the Transportation Committee and to the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets asking legislators to raise the annual authorization to at least $330 million, emphasizing community need and the impact of inflation on the Chapter 90 program, which has lost two-thirds of its purchasing power over the last 11 years.

The MMA’s recent biennial Chapter 90 survey estimates municipal road repair needs at $715 million for fiscal 2024, underscoring the need for additional state support.

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