By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE — As snow and ice melts from the roadways revealing severely cracked and potholed pavement, Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday filed legislation seeking authorization to borrow $200 million to fund local road and bridge repair work.
The Legislature authorized a record $300 million for the Chapter 90 program last year, but former Gov. Deval Patrick agreed to release only $200 million because he said the resource were needed to finance other infrastructure projects.
On his first day in office, Baker followed through a campaign promise to release the additional $100 million in Chapter 90 funds.
“After keeping our promise to release additional transportation funding shortly after taking office, we are proud to continue our commitment to Massachusetts’ cities and towns with an additional investment for the upcoming construction season,” Baker said in a statement Friday. “The access to flexible funding for transportation improvements is essential to our municipalities’ ability to provide for reliable infrastructure, public safety, new job opportunities and a growing economy, and I hope the legislature will take swift action to see these investments become a reality.”
The Massachusetts Municipal Association, which was highly critical of Patrick’s decision to hold back funding last year, applauded Baker’s effort, and urged the Legislature to enact the bill before April 1 so cities and towns can take advantage of a full construction season.
“With each inch of snow that melts it’s going to be more apparent than ever that the roads have been beat up badly,” MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith said.
Beckwith said the $100 million in spending authorized by Baker in January was “released on top of frozen tundra” when no construction work could be done. If the Legislature signs off on the $200 million, Beckwith said municipal managers will have $300 million for the upcoming spring-through-fall construction season.