Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Senate GOP Advocates for Release of Municipal Road Funding for Cities and Towns

The Senate Republican Caucus is calling on a transportation conference committee to expedite the release of $200 million in Chapter 90 funding for municipal road and bridge projects.

The funding was previously approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate as part of a $1.5 billion Transportation Bond Bill. Release of the funding has been delayed, however, due to policy differences in other parts of the bond bill that remain unresolved and are still being worked out in conference committee.

In a letter hand-delivered to Transportation Committee co-chairs Senator Thomas M. McGee and Representative William M. Straus and the four other conferees, the Caucus has requested that the bond bill be reported, in part, by releasing the Chapter 90 funding while negotiations continue on the other sections of the bond bill. The letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Senate Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) and Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

“Chapter 90 funding constitutes a critical component of local infrastructure and public works projects that benefit all Massachusetts residents,” the Caucus wrote. “The spring construction season is already well underway, and municipalities are counting on the timely release of this funding to assist with vital road and bridge repairs.”

Under the Chapter 90 program, funding is allocated to cities and towns based on a formula that takes into account factors such as population, employment levels and the total number of miles of local roadways in the community. Although communities have already received notification of the funding amounts they can expect to receive, municipalities cannot sign project contracts until the Legislature delivers a bill authorizing the release of the funds to Governor Patrick for his signature.

“Releasing the Chapter 90 monies now will have the effect of stimulating the economy and getting Massachusetts residents back to work,” the Caucus wrote. “Therefore, we urge you to expedite the release of Chapter 90 funding from conference committee.”