Senate Passes Transportation Bond Bill

by | Mar 11, 2014

BOSTON– The Senate on Thursday, March 6th passed a bill authorizing $13 billion in capital spending over the next five years to fund improvements to the Commonwealth’s transportation system, Senator Michael O. Moore announced. Senator Moore is a member of Joint Committee on Transportation and the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.

“Transportation is vital for the well-being of the Commonwealth. This bill gives our cities and towns long term stability and flexibility to be able to undertake much needed critical improvements and repairs to local bridges and roads,” stated Senator Moore. “This bill not only creates job opportunities by spurring new construction projects, but by keeping our roads and bridges safe and reliable, we are also promoting economic development and further enticing business to come to Massachusetts.”

The bill 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.

The state would save an estimated $518 million by shortening the duration of Chapter 90 bond from 30 to 20 years.

The bill also addresses penalties for fare evasion at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority by raising fines to $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $600 for a third or subsequent offense.

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.

For the purposes of removing snow and ice, the bill allows the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to spend $50 million over their available funds in both fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

The bill dedicates $2.3 billion for South Coast rail improvements and creates a South Coast rail mitigation program to assist communities impacted by the South Coast rail project. The bill also includes $325 million for improvements to South Station and designates South Station as the Governor Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center at South Station.

In addition, the bill increases the bond limit for the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority from $75 million to $100 million.

The capital plan also includes:

  • $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 bill 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.