Governor Charlie Baker touts priority projects for new federal infrastructure funds

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The Baker administration began outlining Thursday how Massachusetts will spend about $9.5 billion in federal infrastructure funds over the next five years, an infusion of funds that could improve roads and transit systems that millions of people use to get around.

Bridge replacements, electrification of transit vehicles and new bus facilities are among the administration’s top priorities.

But how the influx of new funding will impact long-awaited projects like connecting the MBTA’s blue and red lines, east-west rail, and the redesign of the Mass Pike in Allston is still determined based on advice from the federal government, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday.

“It’s going to happen in what I would describe as sort of a series of waves,” he said.

Signed into law by President Joe Biden in November, the federal infrastructure program is expected to provide $9.5 billion — with billions more in additional grants available — to Massachusetts over the next five years to repair roads and bridges. , improve public transportation, address climate resilience, and make other changes to state infrastructure.

The state already receives millions of dollars in federal funding each year. The Federal Infrastructure Act maintains these funding levels and increases them.

AT news conference at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Thursday, Baker said his administration plans to advance a transportation bond bill in the coming weeks, which will include matching funds for new federal money for infrastructure.

“We’re going to find a way to take our . . . state capital dollars and some of the [federal COVID-19 relief] money that has been earmarked by the legislature to compound some of the opportunities associated with a lot of these resources,” Baker said. “There’s going to be a lot of money going to work for the people of Massachusetts.”

The Baker administration pledged to use a portion of federal funds earmarked for road and bridge improvements to replace the Rourke Bridge in Lowell, which was to be a temporary structure when it was built in 1983.

The funding will help advance the improvement and reconstruction of hundreds of roads and bridges, including the Maffa Way/Mystic Avenue bridges in Boston and Broadway (Route 107) in Chelsea, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The MBTA expects to receive more than half a billion dollars in new funding over the next five years. The agency plans to use the money for station and facility improvements, including new Green Line cars and 80 electric buses, new bus facilities and Red and Orange Line signals. Massachusetts regional transportation authorities are also expected to see an influx of money that the Baker administration says will be spent on things like facility and vehicle upgrades.

The federal law provides Amtrak with $22 billion and spends $24 billion on upgrading the Northeast Corridor, the governor’s office said. Citing ongoing negotiations between Amtrak and CSX, the Florida-based company that controls the rail right-of-way west of Worcester, Baker’s office said the state “intends to work with Amtrak to obtain funds to invest in improving service between Springfield and Worcester as a first step in expanding service between Boston and Albany.

Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler said his department had been working since last summer to prepare plans for the increased funding. The Baker administration’s fiscal year 2023 budget includes increased funding for MassDOT to bolster internal resources to accommodate new federal infrastructure funds.

Baker said he expects Massachusetts residents to begin to see the impact of the new funding on their roads and transit systems by this summer.

“This is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we here in Massachusetts need to do everything we can to take full advantage of it,” he said.


Taylor Dolven can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @taydolven.

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