BOSTON (WWLP) – Most western Massachusetts residents depend on a car every day. House lawmakers authorized $800-million in spending Wednesday, money that would only be used for state highway and bridge repairs.
The bill authorizes $750-million for the “Chapter 90″ program, money to repair highways, local roads and potholes statewide.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo told 22News, “To try to keep it equitable throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and not in one particular section of the state.”
The money would come from the sale of bonds, money borrowed to pay for large infrastructure projects. The bill dedicates an additional $50-million to expand the “Small Bridge Program.”
Many bridges in small, rural communities don’t qualify for federal funding because of their size. West Springfield State Representative Michael Finn told 22News the money would help cities and towns repair smaller bridges at risk of full or partial closure.
“It’s important for them to be able to keep these roads open for emergency vehicle traffic and municipal traffic, as well. It’s important for the infrastructure of the Commonwealth to be well maintained,” said State Rep. Finn.
There are nearly 1,300 small bridges in Massachusetts.
The transportation finance bill still needs approval from the Senate, and then the governor’s signature before it can become law.
The bill also updates the “Complete Streets” program, making it easier for cities and towns to promote other methods of transportation like biking or walking.