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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Berkshires Beat: BNRC Upgrades Popular Trails for 2019 Summer Season
On Monday, June 10, state Rep. Smitty Pignatelli joined members of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) board of directors, volunteers, staff and nature trail enthusiasts to unveil a redesigned trailhead kiosk and enhanced on-trail signage at BNRC's flagship conservation reserve, Yokun Ridge South at Olivia's Overlook. Similar upgrades have also been completed at 16 other BNRC trail sites across Berkshire County. All 54 BNRC reserves are open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk, free of charge.
Each updated kiosk features a large map of the reserve and its trail system; notes on the natural, cultural, and ownership history of the protected lands; and suggested activities for each property. Also available at the kiosks are free, newly revised paper trail maps for visitor use. Easier-to-read on-trail signage, mostly in the form of large brown signs with white letters, has also been installed on many trails. Among these are trails at The Boulders, a BNRC property used by many, which spans across parts of Dalton, Lanesborough and the City of Pittsfield in the center of Berkshire County.
"These kiosk and signage improvements, coupled with BNRC's new Berkshire Trails app, will help everyone explore the richness of the Berkshires' hiking trails and outdoor opportunities," said BNRC President Jenny Hansell. At Monday's unveiling ceremony, Pignatelli spoke to the crowd of the economic importance of conservation land and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Berkshires.
Established in 1967, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s mission is to protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires for public benefit and enjoyment. There are 54 BNRC conservation reserves spread across Berkshire County, free to the public, open to everyone for non-motorized recreation, featuring over 55 miles of maintained trails.
Cheshire food pantry
The Cheshire Pantry opened on Saturday, May 26, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Cheshire Community Center. The pantry will be available the first Saturday of each month. Emergency food is available as well as delivery service.
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