June 15, 2024

Representative Steven Howitt supports $350 million bond authorization to assist with local transportation projects

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Boston – State Representative Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) recently supported legislation authorizing $350 million in bond appropriations to help cities and towns maintain their local transportation infrastructure.

House Bill 3547, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, received preliminary approval from the House of Representatives on March 23 when it was engrossed on a vote of 153-0. The bill includes $200 million in Chapter 90 money to support local road and bridge projects, along with $150 million in additional funding for six transportation-related state grant programs that are available to municipalities.

Representative Howitt said House Bill 3547 will provide Fiscal Year 2024 Chapter 90 funding of $547,657.27 for Norton, $622,332.31 for Rehoboth, $588,178.26 for Seekonk, and $567,007.52 for Swansea. Established in 1973, the Chapter 90 program allocates funding annually to all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns, using a formula that takes into account the weighted average of a community’s local road mileage (58.33%), population (20.83%) and employment (20.83%).

Representative Howitt noted that Chapter 90 funding is provided on a reimbursable basis, with cities and towns required to pay for the work up-front before being compensated by the state.

In addition to the $200 million in Chapter 90 funding, House Bill 3547 also authorizes a total of $150 million in funding increases for six state grant programs. The bill authorizes a $25 million increase in each of the following programs:

• Funding for the construction, repair, and improvement of pavement and surface conditions on non-federally funded roadways, which is increased from $140 million to $165 million;
• Funding for the Municipal Small Bridge program, which supports the design, engineering, construction, preservation, reconstruction and repair of, or improvements to, non-federally aided bridges, which is increased from $125 million to $150 million;
• Funding for the Complete Streets program, which provides technical assistance and construction funding to eligible municipalities seeking to provide safe and accessible travel mode options for people of all ages and abilities, which is increased from $80 million to $105 million;
• Funding for municipal grants for bus-focused mass transit initiatives, which is increased from $75 million to $100 million;
• Funding for municipal grants for accessibility improvements at mass transit and commuter rail stations, which is increased from $75 million to $100 million; and
• Funding for municipalities to facilitate the transition to electric and zero emission vehicles, which is increased from $50 million to $75 million.

Representative Howitt noted that the Chapter 90 program can be used for a variety of purposes, including road resurfacing, sidewalk repairs, traffic signalization, crosswalks, and street lighting. Other eligible construction projects include structural work on bridges, culverts, footbridges and pedestrian bridges, and retaining walls.

Communities can also use Chapter 90 funding for the purchase or long-term lease of certain road-building equipment specifically related to a Chapter 90 project, such as backhoes, catch basin cleaners, concrete mixers, excavators and pavers.

House Bill 3547 now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

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