Governor Deval L. Patrick
Testimony on Behalf of Bridge Repair Bill
June 4, 2008
As Delivered

On Wednesday, June 4, 2008, Governor Patrick testified in front of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets on behalf of his "Act Financing an Accelerated Structurally-Deficient Bridge Improvement Program." Secretary of Administration and Finance Leslie Kirwan, Secretary of Energy and Environment Ian Bowles, and Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen also testified on behalf of the governor's bill, which was announced in April as part of Governor Patrick's comprehensive economic plan to create a culture of opportunity focused on restrained spending and long- and short-term investments, while preparing for the impacts of a softening national economy.

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Governor Patrick:

The Accelerated Bridge program as you know seeks authorization for up to three billion dollars to address structurally deficient bridges. It has it serves three interests. First, the interest we all have in public safety and in economic security. Public safety in terms of the structural integrity of these facilities and economic security because the integrity and reliability of our infrastructure is a key component of a strong economy.

Secondly, it saves one and a half billion dollars by accelerating these investments. Secretary Gonzales and others can take you through the analysis there. And thirdly, it creates thousands of jobs, good, important, necessary construction jobs in the short-term and over the life of this program.

I want to thank here publically the speaker, the Senate president, and the Treasurer and their staffs for their help in developing this proposal. And I want to thank the committee, in particular the chairs and your staff for expediting the review of the proposal and your consideration as well. I know we have been asking a lot of this committee over the last many, many months and we've been asking for acceleration because we think that these investments are absolutely key to our future strength here in the Commonwealth. I just want to thank the committee for your willingness to work with us on this and so many of these important investments.

Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen

People of Massachusetts are blessed with an extensive transportation network including thousands of bridges but for far too long these bridges have been neglected. The legislation before this committee will enable the Commonwealth to accelerate three billion dollars of future investment capacity to fund at least two hundred and fifty additional structurally deficient bridge rehabilitation and prevention projects over the next eight years. Included are bridges owned by Mass Highway, DCR, and our cities and towns. Today we have five hundred and forty-three structurally deficient bridges in the Commonwealth. This program will take us down to four hundred and fifty as opposed to nearly seven hundred if we maintain current funding levels. It will create thousands of jobs and improve the safety and condition of our bridges while generating 1.5 billion dollars of savings for our Commonwealth by avoiding construction costs, inflation, and deferred maintenance costs.

Behind me are examples of four bridges that would be repaired by this program including the Quincy-Hancock St. Bridge, the Rt. 5 Bridge between Agawam and Springfield across the Connecticut River, and I-91 between Chicopee and West Springfield over the Connecticut River. Recognizing the monumental task before us, EOT, Mass Highway and DCR staff are prioritizing bridges that will be part of this program and preparing work to be started immediately with the passage of this legislation. Prioritization is based on the needs of our transportation network but seeks to minimize significant disruptions on any one corridor.

The Accelerated Bridge Program will have a dramatic impact on the state of our transportation network but it's also important to be clear about the complexity of this undertaking and to manage expectations for the program. Bridges are complex and intricate piece of infrastructure and we want to build these bridges to last. That means putting the right resources into planning, engineering, and permitting. In addition to prioritizing bridges in need of repair, we are designing an organizational structure that can effectively manage the increased investment that this program represents.

We have studied similar programs undertaken here in Massachusetts, as well as Missouri, Oregon, and Illinois, and on June 24 we will be hosting a workshop in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration that will focus on management, innovative construction methods, expediting project delivery, and the best ways to get the project going full throttle. These steps and other will provide accountability, transparency, and quality. As part of that process we are looking at advanced contracting methods such as design build, incentivized contracts, and the bundling of bridge projects to get work done quickly. The cost of continued neglect of our bridges is too high. The Accelerated Bridge Program is an important next step.

Secretary of Energy and Environment Ian Bowles

This is a very important program for DCR bridges; we have twenty-six structurally deficient vehicular bridges. Our five-year capital program to date allocated one hundred and ninety-four million for those key bridges. This program would make nine hundred million available, essentially allowing DCR to address all of its structurally deficient bridges and see to some of the most notable bridges in the Commonwealth. I mentioned this in a couple of the first ninety days we would be able to get started on the Woods Memorial Bridge between Everett and Medford, a thirty-one million dollar overhaul. And the bridge, the Mystic Valley Parkway over Alewife, Brook, and Somerville, a four point one million dollar project and then in the first year be able to start construction projects for very important bridges. Of course, the Lars Anderson Bridge between Boston and Cambridge, ten million, the River St. and Mother Brook and Hyde Park Bridge three million, the BU Bridge where construction on sidewalks has already begun but the decking and repair would fall. That's a twenty-two million dollar project. The Craigie Dam and Craigie Drawbridge right in front of the Museum of Science, this is a dam that was built in 1908 those are one of our top priorities to get done. That's a twenty-six million dollar am project.

The other points I leave you with is we're working very closely with the EOT and our partners at Mass Highway to consolidate and coordinate an approach to this program. Many of the elements that Secretary Cohen talked about, many of the elements of innovative delivery structures in order to get this done quickly but get it done well are all things we're all going to participate in and we envision to be a consolidated program that leverages both of our agencies in a good way to get this work done.