BOSTON – Some $200 million in Chapter 90 road funds have been approved in both houses of the Legislature for fiscal 2019, with about $7.3 million headed for Berkshire County.
The funds are part of a three-year, $600 million Chapter 90 apportionment that passed the State Senate. The House the week before passed a single-year $200 million bill and both houses are now working to resolve differences in the two bills in order to get legislation to the governor's desk so that the funds can be released for this construction season.
"This legislation allows the current Chapter 90 program to continue and guarantees future funding in FY 2020 and FY2021," said state Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, in a statement. "Our hope is that this change will allow for predictability and a quicker turnaround between MassDOT's calculation of each municipality's annual Chapter 90 apportionment and the ability for local construction projects to go out to bid."
In total, the legislation authorizes $11,647,078 in fiscal 2019 for communities in Hinds' Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden Senate District to support local road and bridge transportation projects.
"Cities and towns strongly advocated for a multi-year financing plan so they can appropriately schedule and prepare for projects," said Hinds. "Today the Senate provided that predictability. Western Massachusetts has severe regional transportation infrastructure needs – especially after this long, tough winter – and local budgets are impacted as municipal officials try to maintain roads and bridges in a state of good repair."
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli said more than $4 million had been allocated in the House bill to the 4th Berkshire District, which also includes the towns of Blandford, Russell, and Tolland.
"This funding could not be more important to our small communities," said Pignatelli. "There is a great need to maintain and improve the infrastructure in our district, and Chapter 90 funds have always been a real lifeline for these towns. I am thrilled we got this bill passed [April 5], and I'm looking forward to the Senate doing the same."
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