Early Tuesday morning, the MA legislature passed a major transportation bond bill that is now awaiting Governor Baker’s approval. This bond bill includes many significant changes to our statewide transportation policies and provides financing authority to support capital investments in roads, bridges, and transit infrastructure in the years ahead.
Many of the major policy changes in this bond bill are consistent with the recommendations, goals, and advocacy presented by A Better City over the past two years. Starting with the An Update on Transportation Finance report, then with the principles of Funding Transportation Solutions, our participation in the Senate Transportation Working Group, and public testimony before the legislature, A Better City called for additional revenue streams for the MBTA, increased fees on Uber/Lyft rides, and the progress toward expanded roadway pricing throughout the Commonwealth to support transit, meet our climate emission goals, and reduce congestion. All three of these ideas are included in the bond bill and we salute the work of legislative leaders for advancing these efforts.
It is important to note that the dollars made available through this bill are authorizations to take out debt. This bond bill would authorize the Commonwealth to borrow $16.5 billion over the next 10 years for transportation projects. MassDOT typically is borrowing and spending almost $4 billion annually, through their capital spending program, and the federal government reimburses a significant portion of this amount. The bill does include funding for many of the priority projects and initiatives called for by A Better City, including:· $25 million for improvements to the South Boston Waterfront area
· $200 million for the phase 1 components of the Regional Commuter Rail vision
· Funding for the Red-Blue connection
· Funding for the next phase of the Allston Multi-modal Project
This bill also asks A Better City to work with MassDOT and a number of other stakeholder organization to develop a congestion mitigation plan for disruptions related to the Allston I-90 Multimodal project. This important work would be consistent with A Better City’s leadership on the project and our careful consideration of the mitigation plans necessary to move the project forward and create a lasting impact for the Allston area and the entire region. We have asked MassDOT to select the Modified All-At Grade design as the preferred alternative for the future construction of the project and we look forward to continuing our advocacy on the project.
The transportation bond bill is a good step forward, but the Commonwealth will still need additional funding to fix our roads, bridges, and transit as well as fund expansion and resiliency efforts. You can find the full text of the legislation through this link and we will have additional comments when Governor Baker signs this bill.
For an additional summary, read Adam Vaccaro's Boston Globe article here.