Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill into law that allots nearly $3 billion to speed up repairs for up to 300 of the most neglected bridges in the state.
The repair plan – H4972 – will use $2.98 billion to fix “structurally deficient” bridges during the next eight years. State figures show there now are 543 structurally deficient bridges.
At current funding levels, that number would increase nearly 30 percent by 2016. The added spending is expected to drop the number by about 15 percent, The Associated Press reported.
The state’s Highway Department and municipalities own nearly 90 percent of bridges in the state. Other state agencies own the rest.
Supporters say the repair plan will save $1.5 billion in construction costs by getting work done sooner. They cite escalating costs for construction. Others say the plan is a necessity to improve public safety. It also would create thousands of construction jobs, they say.
The work will be financed by borrowing $1.1 billion in expected future federal transportation funds and $1.9 billion in state fuel tax revenue.
Among the notable bridge projects that will get an infusion of money is the Longfellow Bridge that carries state Route 3 into Boston. The condition of the bridge has led to large trucks being banned from crossing and all traffic being prohibited from the left lanes in both directions.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts in 2008, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor