BOSTON (SHNS) – The state transportation department will serve as a “conduit” to steer $145 million to the MBTA in state-level matching funds for an injection of federal dollars the transit agency expects to receive under a new infrastructure law.
MassDOT board members on Wednesday unanimously approved a transfer that will fulfill the requirement for states to put their own dollars on the table with substantial federal money set to arrive. The transfer represents the latest example of the state pouring more money into the T, which is struggling with a maintenance backlog and staff shortages that prompted service cuts.
Lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker this year have steered $778 million to help the T respond to Federal Transit Administration safety orders. The T expects to receive about $580 million in additional federal formula grant funds over the next five years as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, according to MassDOT Director of Capital Planning Michelle Ho. Federal Transit Administration grants at play need a state-level match of 20 percent, Ho said, and Wednesday’s vote solidifies that match.
A state infrastructure bond law Gov. Charlie Baker signed in August authorized $145 million in matching funds, which will be transferred from the Commonwealth Transportation Fund to the MBTA via MassDOT following the board’s vote.
Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler said MBTA overseers previously voted to set aside that amount of cash to ensure they could match the increase in federal grants, and that money can now go to other uses. “This is an incredibly helpful movement of money to the MBTA. This is beyond what was budgeted and planned and voted,” he said.