Massachusetts' lawmakers approve transportation funds

| Monday, August 09, 2004

The Massachusetts Legislature has approved a measure authorizing numerous traffic, road and transit projects in the state – though Gov. Mitt Romney must give the projects a thumbs up before any money can be spent.

The transportation bond bill was one of the final items approved by lawmakers as they wrapped up work July 31 on the legislative calendar.

In the bill, sometimes referred to as a legislative “wish list,” House and Senate lawmakers prioritize which projects they want funded. It is then up to the governor to authorize borrowing for the work, and it can take years for projects included in a bond authorization to receive funding.

The measure, which would authorize the state to borrow $2.5 billion, earmarks funds for several projects in Boston’s western suburbs, including $500,000 for road improvements and $475,000 to continue two public bus routes, The Boston Globe reported.

It also calls for $5 million to build sound barriers along the Massachusetts Turnpike between state Route 128 and Interstate 495, and for the state Highway Department and the Turnpike Authority to develop plans to reduce highway noise for communities near major thoroughfares by December.

In addition, the bill calls for an $80,000 redevelopment plan of the former West Stockbridge truck plaza site on 14 acres on state Route 102 near the turnpike. The project would authorize a study of viable commercial/industrial uses of the site, site appraisal and conceptual designs for development.

Gov. Romney is expected to make a decision on the bill this week.

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