Governor Charlie Baker unveils $9.7 billion infrastructure bond bill for projects in Massachusetts

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Framed by a noisy Interstate 290 bridge in Worcester, Governor Charlie Baker unveiled a $9.7 billion infrastructure bond bill Thursday with major investments tied to highways and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority – using a mix of state and federal funding that the Commonwealth will now compete against other states for access.

Baker said the massive five-year package includes $5.4 billion in funding for highways, $2.2 billion for the MBTA, $591 million for regional transportation authorities and 1.4 billion dollars for environmental infrastructure projects. The funding calculation is intended to modernize and “fix” existing infrastructure, Baker said, while ensuring the state can maximize and leverage federal dollars.

The total bill is nearly double what Massachusetts would typically spend, the governor said, with more than a third of the figure encompassing federal and state competitive grant opportunities.

“One of the things that everyone should understand about this is to put these things on the ground, we have to get permission from the legislature – not just for the state share, but for the full price of every project, including the federal piece,” Baker said at a Thursday morning news conference. “Because the way it works is the state authorizes, the state spends, and the feds reimburse. It is therefore essential for us to pass this legislation as quickly as possible, which will allow us to move forward aggressively.

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito stressed that the infrastructure package prioritizes climate, mobility and economic opportunity. About $830 million, for example, will help the MBTA buy a new fleet of energy-efficient Green Line cars, Polito said.

With the successful passage of this new bond bill, Massachusetts can move forward with 375 freeway projects in a “very big and aggressive way.” There’s also $55 million allocated to cities and towns, with a percentage already earmarked for the bridge over East Central Street, as Baker pointed out.

“We believe we have a tremendous opportunity to succeed and access and earn many of these discretionary, federally competitive grant programs as they roll out over the next few years,” Baker said. .

Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler, echoing the governor’s optimism, described the bond bill as a vital framework for Massachusetts to effectively unlock and deploy federal infrastructure dollars. The Commonwealth expects to receive between $2 billion and $3 billion in discretionary grants over the next five years, Tesler said.

“As the federal money will start flowing in, we will have already taken the necessary steps to move forward with specific projects, including this bridge behind us today,” Tesler said at the press conference. . “Under the Baker-Polito administration, we have come a long way as a community with growing capital investments in our transportation system and with the expansion of municipal grant programs to help cities and towns improve their basic infrastructure – and prioritizing the safety, fairness, reliability and resilience of our transportation system.

Worcester Mayor Joe Petty, who announced his candidacy last week to run for Senator Harriette Chandler’s seat, said the Governor’s Bond Bill “will shape the Commonwealth for generations to come”. Multiple transportation options are essential as people return to in-person work as COVID-19 wanes, Petty said.

“It’s about reducing traffic and growing our economy while reducing our environmental footprint…” Petty said at the press conference. “This bill is about the future of how we can all live together.”

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