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Targets transportation dollars to repairing the state's crumbling roads and bridges


Governor Mitt Romney today unveiled a new "Fix It First" policy to focus state dollars on repairing the state's crumbling roads and bridges. Saying there will be "no monuments to egos," Romney also ended the practice of putting the names of the Governor and other state officials on highway signs.


"Massachusetts can no longer afford to allow our existing system to crumble under the weight of overuse and official neglect," said Romney. "We need to redirect the state's resources to reflect a priority on repairing what we already have."


Under the new policy, first priority will be given to sharply reducing the backlog of deteriorating roads and bridges. Massachusetts has nearly 5,000 bridges, with 12 percent rated as "structurally deficient." The bridges are owned by cities and towns, the Massachusetts Highway Department, the Metropolitan District Commission and the Massachusetts Bay Transporation Authority.


Romney directed his Chief of Commonwealth Development, Doug Foy, to work with Transportation Secretary Dan Grabauskas to produce a plan for repairing or reconstructing the state's failing bridges, with a budget and schedule for completing the job, by July 1, 2003.


The plan will also include a management program to improve pavement management so that maintenance and minor repairs are scheduled in a way to avoid bigger reconstruction jobs in the future. Romney also called for the following traffic-busting initiatives:


Improving signage so drivers know where they are and where they are going;

Scheduling construction on key roads during off-peak hours whenever possible;

Enhancing incident response systems; and

Implementing multi-modal strategies to reduce traffic congestion.

In a break from past custom, Romney said he will direct the Transportation Department to end the practice of having the names of the Governor and other state officials on highway signs.


"Every time there is a change in administration, we spent thousands of dollars to alter the welcome signs along our state borders," said Romney. "While it may not be much in the context of the overall budget, it certainly represents money that is better spent in other ways."


According to Foy, "In reinvesting in our existing roads and bridges, we are also reinvesting in our cities and towns where we want economic growth."


"Massachusetts has one of the oldest road and bridge systems in the country and we pledge that it will be kept in the best condition possible," said Grabauskas. "Governor Romney believes that taxpayers have a right to expect that every dollar of their investment be used in a thoughtful, efficient, and effective manner."


Romney explained that "Fix It First" does not mean taking everything other than repairs off the drawing board.


"Our highest priority should be on caring for existing assets before we take on other things. Highway expansion will be based primarily on how it affects growth patterns and on solid numbers, not politics," Romney said.

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