May 23, 2024

Representative Steven S. Howitt supports $375 million bond authorization to fund municipal transportation infrastructure

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Boston – State Representative Steven S. Howitt (R-Seekonk) recently supported legislation that authorizes $375 million in state bond funding to assist cities and towns with the repair and maintenance of their local transportation infrastructure.

House Bill 4529, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, was engrossed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 155-0 on April 3. In addition to providing $200 million in Chapter 90 funding and $25 million in assistance targeted for rural communities, the bill also authorizes $150 million in spending to support six state grant programs cities and towns can access for help with local transportation-related projects.

Representative Howitt noted that under the Chapter 90 provisions of the bill, Norton will receive $546,160, Rehoboth will receive $623,996, Seekonk will receive $587,425, and Swansea will receive $566,305 in road and bridge funding for Fiscal Year 2025. Established in 1973, the Chapter 90 program provides funding to cities and towns on a reimbursable basis, with communities required to pay for the work up-front before being compensated by the state. The distribution of the funding is based on a formula that considers the weighted average of a community’s local road mileage (58.33%), population (20.83%), and employment (20.83%).

House Bill 4529 also allocates $25 million for the rural road program to assist rural communities with the construction and reconstruction of municipal ways. Launched in 2023, the program defines rural communities as having a population of less than 10,000 and a population density that is under 500 people per square mile. The distribution of funds under this program is based on a weighted formula that considers a municipality’s local road mileage (20%), population (20%), and its status as a rural community (60%).

Representative Howitt said communities across the state will also benefit from the bill’s inclusion of funding increases for six state grant programs that are open to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns. Specifically, House Bill 4529 allocates:

• $25 million for the construction, reconstruction, resurfacing, repair, and improvement of pavement and surface conditions on non-federally aided roadways, including, but not limited to, state numbered routes and municipal roadways;
• $25 million for the Small Bridge Program, which supports the design, engineering, construction, preservation, reconstruction, and repair of, or improvements to, non-federally aided bridges and approaches;
• $25 million for the Complete Streets Program, which supports the implementation of safe and accessible options for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists of all ages and abilities;
• $25 million for the prioritization and enhancement of mass transit by bus;
• $25 million for the study, design, and construction or improvement of enhancements that increase access to mass transit and commuter rail stations; and
• $25 million for grants to municipalities and regional transit authorities for the planning, study, training, installation of related infrastructure, and purchase of electric vehicles and light, medium, and heavy-duty vehicles.

House Bill 4529 now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

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