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Downing secures $15 Million for local projects in Senate Transportation Bond Bill
March 07, 2014

BOSTON The Massachusetts Senate passed a Transportation Bond Bill (T-bond) on Thursday night, authorizing $13 billion in capital spending over the next five years to fund public transportation infrastructure and projects. 
 
“These important funds show our commitment to transportation across the state,” said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield). “Transportation investment will not only keep our roads and bridges safe and reliable, but will also create jobs and promote economic development.”
 
Downing secured the authorization for $15 million to fund projects throughout Berkshire County in this bill, including:
 
  • $6,000,000 for the replacement of a parking garage between Columbus Street and Summer Street in downtown Pittsfield;
  • $5,000,000 for the reconstruction Hubbard Avenue railroad overpass in Pittsfield;
  • $1,750,000 for roadway and utility improvements on Thiel Road in Adams;
  • $1,500,000 for the repair of the Brown Street Bridge in North Adams; and
  • $750,000 for the repair of the Route 7 Bridge that spans the Housatonic River in Great Barrington.
 
During the debate the Senate also adopted an amendment, co-sponsored by Downing, that authorizes the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to pay snow plow contractors for services rendered this winter season; funding for these services has been tied up in a pending supplemental budget. Under this provision MassDOT may spend $50 million over their available funds in both Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 to pay for snow and ice removal. 
 
The Senate’s T-bond includes $1.5 billion in spending over the next five years for the Chapter 90 program to fund local projects such as rebuilding and repairing roads and bridges and requires municipalities to be notified of their Chapter 90 appropriation before March 1st of each year.
 
Massachusetts will save an estimated $518 million by shortening the duration of Chapter 90 bond from 30 to 20 years.
 
To support the Complete Streets Program, the bill authorizes $50 million in spending and creates a grant program to provide funding to municipalities that promote all modes of transportation, including walking, cycling, public transportation, automobiles and freight.
 
Also authorized in the T-bond:
 
  • $1.9 billion for interstate/non-interstate federal highways, which is approximately 80 percent federally reimbursable;
  • $2.2 billion for non-federally aided roads and bridges;
  • $125 million for the Department of Conservation and Recreation for repairs, improvements, construction of parkways and related equipment;
  • $350 million for transportation facilities and rolling stock for improvements to facilities, urban development plans and the purchase and rehabilitation of rolling stock;
  • $24 million for the mobility assistance program and regional intercity bus and intermodal services;
  • $80 million for the statewide rail access program;
  • $2.5 billion for heavy and light rail and bus projects to fund state of good repair projects, including on the Red, Orange and Green line cars;
  • $55 million for the airport improvement program to allow for paving runways and upgrades;
  • $63 million for Registry of Motor Vehicles modernization;
  • $1.3 billion for Green Line extension projects;
  • $175 million for Springfield-Worcester, Boston-Cape Cod and Pittsfield-NYC rail projects;
  • $30 million for service improvements to the Knowledge Corridor Rail Line; and,
  • $146.5 million for information technology at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
 
The T-bond also re-authorizes previously authorized transportation capital accounts necessary to fund current obligations through the end of June. In addition, it de-authorizes $2 billion from previous transportation bond bills that are not spent within 90 days after this bill goes into effect.
 
The Senate and House will now produce a compromise bill for final passage and consideration of the Governor.
 
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