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February 10, 2004


Comprehensive Legislation Reforms and Modernizes Transportation System


Governor Mitt Romney today filed a $1.15 billion blueprint for capital transportation spending that guarantees the state will invest at least $400 million every year in upgrading the Commonwealth’s roads and bridges until the year 2012.


The Transportation Bond Bill filed by Romney preserves the spending requirement that was first put in place by the federal government in 2001 to ensure that the statewide road and bridge program would remain vibrant during Big Dig construction.


Romney said that current law calls for this commitment to end in 2005 when project construction is completed. Under his plan, the state’s road and bridge investment will continue until 2012 when actual payments for the project have ended. Romney noted that more than $1.5 billion of the state’s share of future federal funding is slated to go toward the Big Dig until 2012.


“This infusion of funds will jumpstart critical transportation projects that have taken a backseat to the Big Dig for far too long,” Romney said. “The dust may settle on the Big Dig project, but the financial implications will continue for years to come. This commitment will ensure that road and bridge spending will continue to be strong among all of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns.”


Romney’s Transportation Bond Bill also reflects his commitment to developing residential and economic activity around MBTA stations by setting aside $54 million in a Transit Oriented Development fund. This program will complement the Commonwealth Capital Fund, which was recently established to promote smart growth through discretionary grants.


In addition, the bill will provide three years worth of new capital authorization for critical transportation priorities. Funding provisions in the Bond Bill include $425 million for federally assisted transportation projects to support the road and bridge program, $300 million for Chapter 90 local aid, $210 million for non-federally assisted roadway projects, $102 million to protect rail freight properties and to provide capital assistance to Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) and $23 million for various local grant programs.


Romney said the funding will be allocated consistent with his Fix it First and Communities First policies as well as with the use of objective criteria in ranking proposed projects.


The Bond Bill also authorizes MassHighway to use Design-Build construction in some cases, bring the MBTA and Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Tort Liability Limits into greater consistency with state limits and establish new fines to prevent fare evasion on the MBTA.


“This bill is a key element of Governor Romney’s unfolding 25-year plan to bring multi-modal mobility to all Commonwealth residents,” said Douglas Foy, Secretary of the Office of Commonwealth Development.


The proposal is available online at www.state.ma.us/eotc/.



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