Massachusetts governor announces transportation funding bill

| 12/10/2007

Gov. Deval Patrick has unveiled a three-year, $2.9 billion transportation bond bill intended to help drivers in Massachusetts get around.

Combined with $1.9 billion in matching federal funds, the bond bill would authorize $4.8 billion for road, bridge and rail projects throughout the state during the next three years. The Massachusetts Legislature must sign off on the bill.

Patrick said the infusion of dollars would help the state address the $15 billion to $19 billion needed for upkeep of the state’s transportation network during the next two decades.

In an attempt to clear some traffic congestion, the bill would include $18.2 million for preliminary work on a commuter rail extension to Fall River and New Bedford. It also would authorize funds for an extension of the Green Line to Somerville.

Supporters say improvements are needed to transportation infrastructure because Massachusetts ranks 48th among states with major roads and highways in either “good” or “very good” condition. Only 15 percent of major routes in the state fall into the categories, reported.

The governor said the bonding bill is only the beginning of plans his administration has to overhaul the state’s transportation agencies, including consideration of tolls and other funding methods that could include higher fees for large trucks. Patrick said he is opposed to increasing the state’s fuel tax rate.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor