Senate plans Thursday debate on road repair bill

Massachusetts

STCC installed electric vehicle charging stations on one of the campus parking lots. (STCC)

BOSTON (SHNS) – A $300 million local infrastructure bill moved in the Senate on Monday, calling for $200 million in road and bridge maintenance funding and additional grants to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure, local mass transit, small bridges, and bottleneck reduction.

After the Ways and Means Committee favorably reported its version of an annual road and bridge repair bill (S 2486) on Monday, the Senate teed up the legislation for a vote in a Thursday formal session. Like the version the House approved (H 3903), the Senate bill would direct $200 million to the Chapter 90 program that reimburses cities and towns every year for local road and bridge maintenance.

The Ways and Means Committee also called for another $100 million in grant funding, including $25 million for the municipal bridge program, $25 million for bus transit infrastructure grants, $25 million for a local bottleneck reduction program, and $25 million for electric vehicle grants to municipalities and regional transit authorities.

If the committee bill earns support from the full Senate, legislative leaders will need to resolve differences in grant funding. The House’s Chapter 90 bill proposed a total of $75 million in grants, with $25 million for the municipal bridge program, $25 million for bus transit, and $25 million for municipal mass transit access. Representatives also approved an amendment to the House bill requiring the Department of Transportation to maintain two operational commuter rail tracks on the Framingham/Worcester Line during construction of an Allston I-90 megaproject, which does not appear in the Senate bill.

Cities and towns have been pushing unsuccessfully for years for at least $300 million in Chapter 90 funding per year and a multi-year authorization, which municipal leaders say will allow them to plan larger maintenance projects. Senators have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to file amendments to the bill.

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