BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker has signed H.69, An act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, which authorizes $200 million in Chapter 90 transportation funds to support all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts.
About $7,820,310 of that will be heading to the Berkshires with the largest amount — $1.4 million — going to Pittsfield and its nearly 200 miles of roads. The second largest amount of $435,324 goes to the county's other city, North Adams, which has just over 70 miles of road. Berkshire County total has about 1,598.63 miles of locally governed roads.
Boston, not surprisingly, gets the highest amount at $14.7 million for 790 miles of road.
Apportionment is based on road miles, population based on the latest U.S. Census and employment. The program is partially funded through the gas tax.
Since taking office in 2015, and including the FY20 signed bill, the Baker-Polito administration has awarded a total of $1.14 billion through the Chapter 90 formula, including $100 million on its first day in office.
"Chapter 90 funding provides cities and towns with critical resources to carry out important projects like highway construction and road paving to improve local infrastructure in communities across Massachusetts," Baker said in a statement. "We thank the Legislature for working with our administration to pass this bill and continue our support for local officials this construction season."
Other than the extra $100 million four years ago, the amount of funding has been generally flat over the past seven years while costs have increased. Reconstructing one mile of road now hovers around $1 million and many smaller towns save up their Chapter 90 funds until they can be used more efficiently in terms of road repair or equipment.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association has been advocating for an increase in the program, estimating it would take nearly $700 million a year to properly maintain the state's 30,000 miles of local roads.
Chapter 90 reimburses cities and towns for costs incurred for eligible transportation projects. Cities and towns must submit receipts to the state Department of Transportation's Highway Division district in which they are located which verifies that the expenditures qualify for reimbursement under Chapter 90. The Highway Districts in turn submit these receipts to the Department of Transportation's Fiscal Department, which facilitates the reimbursements to cities and towns.
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Kathleen Theoharides, secretary of energy and environmental affairs, visits the site of culvert project in Pittsfield being funded through the state's climate readiness program.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides was in Pittsfield on Friday to review a state-funded culvert site and meet with local officials to discuss the state's climate readiness program.
She joined Mayor Linda Tyer at the Churchill Street culvert, a site which recently received grant funding through the state's Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program. The city was awarded an $814,524 state grant in June for the Churchill Brook and West Street Culvert Replacement Project.
Through the MVP program, which begun in 2017, municipalities identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities and strengths, develop adaptation actions, and prioritize next steps. The initiative which initially started as a $500,000 capital grant program has now increased to $12 million. Pittsfield is among the 71 percent of communities across the commonwealth now enrolled in the MVP program.
"The governor and the lieutenant governor have made resilient infrastructure a priority all across the state and I think it's really important to know that we have a really vested interest in Western Massachusetts communities as well as all across the state, not forgetting the Berkshires or Pioneer Valley," said Theoharides in a statement. "Our MVP program is really focused on these types of partnership investments and looking to design infrastructure for the challenges we're seeing today and moving forward as climate change increases."
Four names will be on the preliminary ballot but only three candidates showed for the debate held by the Pittsfield Gazette and hosted at Berkshire Community College. The moderator was radio host Larry Kratka and Pittsfield Community Television aired the event.
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