Governor Deval L. Patrick
Governor Announces Transportation Bond Legislation
November 29, 2007
As Delivered

Governor Patrick

Thank you all for coming today. I want to acknowledge and welcome all the members of the legislature who are here, you will hear from two in just a minute. Secretary Cohen and his team, Secretary Kirwan is here, members of our administration, mayors, and interested parties. By the way, we are all interested in intact and growing and effective transportation network. We're here today to announce the filing of an act financing improvements to the Commonwealth's Transportation System, a 3 year, 2.9 billion dollar investment in state-wide transportation improvements and expansions. The bond funding outlined in this bill will help Massachusetts secure additional Federal funding for a total of $4.8 billion in roads, bridges, public railways, and regional transportation projects. After over 16 years of neglect, it's time to re-invest in a transportation system that improves our quality of life and enhances and encourages robust economic growth. Taken together with our proposed use of Resort Casino proceeds this initiative takes a $4.7 billion bite out of the Transportation Finance Commission's 15 to 19 billion dollar tab for deferred maintenance and supports select new projects as well.

The Bond Bill authorizes the following elements. Approximately $1.3 billion to fund the state's roads and bridges, this is expected to leverage Federal funding that will result in $3.2 billion in total investments to maintain our existing infrastructure and make some progress in reducing the funding gap identified by the TFC. $500 million to fund Chapter 90 grants to cities and towns to improvements for local roads and bridges. This will allow us to continue funding this very important program at the increase levels we instituted last year of $150 million per year. $100 million for rail and mass transit planning projects targeted at regional economic growth and geographic equity including rail extensions from Fall River to New Bedford, the Urban Ring Project, and the Blue Line extension to Lynn. $700 million to fund the State Implementation Plan or the "SIP" commitments mitigate the environmental impact of the Central Artery Tunnel Project. Those projects include exciting and long-overdue developments like improvements to the Fairmont Commuter Rail, the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford. The design and engineering work on a Red Line and a Blue Line connector between Government Center and the Charles MGH station and the creation of new commuter parking spaces at transit nodes. $75 million of the state's share for the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Improvement Project to improve safety and reduce commute times. This investment by the way, will leverage $75 million of Federal funding for the project. That's an earmark we have Congressman Olver to thank. $50 million for Public Works grants to cities and towns that support economic development known as PWED grants. $15 million for extended STRAP grants to small communities. We have raised the population eligibility for the STRAP Program, giving 53 new communities access to these funds. $20 million for grants to cities and towns that fund public infrastructure improvements and affordable housing for transit-oriented development. Approximately $60 million for investments in regional transit authorities, inter-modal transportation improvements and water transportation. And $40 million for general aviation airports throughout the Commonwealth. These are projects vital to commuter safety, local economic growth, and responsible environmental stewardship and will aid with the creation of up to 10 thousand new construction jobs across the state. These are investments that are important as a first step and a comprehensive reform effort for transportation in Massachusetts. They are just a first step. We must continue to work to develop a coordinated state-wide transportation strategy. Decisions about tolls, fares, new projects, and funding are made today by separate entities, sometimes frequently working in silos. That leads not only to internal confusion but also less efficient spending decisions. The Massachusetts Mobility Compact, which the Secretary launched earlier this year, was a very important step in the right direction in getting the agencies to coordinate better with each other.

We've been working with legislatures, existing transportation agencies, and other stake-holders, to develop a further comprehensive set of reforms to how we finance and manage our transportation system and we expect to file legislation in the very near future to initiate a slate of very significant reform. We can no longer ignore the need to invest in our transportation system. New, pro-active investments are necessary as are new ways of financing and managing transportation in the Commonwealth. I look forward to working with our partners in the legislature on funding improvements on the safety and the effectiveness roads, bridges, and mass-transit and creating greater transparency and efficiency in transportation projects and the tax dollars that fund them.

Senator Tolman

It was just last week or ten days ago we were out in Allston and the Governor talked and introduced a $1.2 billion infrastructure proposal on housing. And yet here we are today talking about a $2.8 billion dollar transportation bond piece which will leverage almost 5 billion dollars. We're looking here today folks at a Governor that has his posts on the infrastructure of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And there is nothing more important to the future of Massachusetts and to all its citizens to stabilize the infrastructure, that's what this bill is about, that's what the bill was about a couple of weeks ago, and that's what the future of Massachusetts is about; to invest in the infrastructure. I am very excited to stand here as a Senate delegate to tell the Governor and certainly both branches that we have to work together to make sure this becomes a reality. The Governor touched upon all of the substantial issues of this bill, but think about it. $100 million is going to be invested in improving the infrastructure of commuter rail systems. What is more important to that? To get it so that it is a commuter rail system that runs by a watch. So that you can count on it, so that it's reliable. That's what the Governor is talking about. Or how about the roads and bridges that for the past sixteen years, every single one of us in this room have been talking about being neglected, and we got a lot of gobble-gobble gobbly-glick or whatever it might be. We got a lot of nonsense. I'm honored to stand here and to tell the Governor that we look forward we look forward to working on the infrastructure of the transportation system of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to enhance the standard of living for all of the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thank you.

Byron Rushing

I'm Byron Rushing and I'm Assistant Majority Leader in the House and it is a pleasure to be here to represent the speaker and to also stand in for, just for the second, for the Chairman of Transportation, Joe Wagner. And I also want to make sure everyone knows how this process is going to work. This bond bill is going to be coming to the legislature and is going to be going to the committee, the Joint Committee on Transportation. We will be having public hearings on this and looking at this very closely. And then we are going to send it off to Representative Flynn's Committee and Senators and Representative Montigny and they'll take a look at this as a bond bill, and what this means in the whole scope and planning of bonding in this state and then it will come to the floor in both houses. And I say all of that to say how excited we are about this cooperation beginning this soon and together with the Governor's office. We have spent a long time in this state not being able to put together the necessary coalition to improve our transportation. We have spent a long time in this state, some people who are partisan say exactly sixteen years and then it stopped. But the reality is that we've spent a long time in this state not focusing on the repair work that has to be done when you are responsible for such a vast but also intricate system as our transportation system. And so it is indeed a pleasure to be able to return to a time when the legislature and the Governor are on the same page about important civic improvements. And what is so important about transportation is what all of you know and as my former colleague and of course he was in the house, and Senator Tolman has said it is so important to our economy is that we're talking not only about moving people around, we're also talking about economic development. We have to move people around for economic development but improving transportation is economic development in and of itself. And it's putting those two things together for us that is so important to the advancement of this state for everybody in this state. So that we can have a working class in this state knowing that when they work that they are going to make more money than they made two years ago. So we can have poor people in this state knowing that there are options for them so they can look forward to a time when they won't be poor. And you can't do that without having an economy that grows and you can't have an economy that grows if no one gets around and if you're not putting significant public funds into the whole stream with private funds, with public funds from other parts of the government, the Federal Government specifically, so that we can have that type of plan coming to fruition in this Commonwealth. And so for all those reasons, it is really a pleasure to be here and be part of the beginning of this process.

Secretary Cohen

I would just like to say that the bond bill that Governor Patrick announced today build on a couple things. One is an Immediate Needs Bond bill that the administration proposed and the legislature swiftly passed last April that provided almost $2 billion in funding for transportation projects that essentially had been sitting on a shelf for a year, year and a half, two years, fully-designed, but we were unable to award the contracts because there was no funding. That Immediate Needs Bond Bill combined with the Capital Plan the Administration unveiled last August, combined with today's announcement, I think is a reflection of the fact that this Administration cares about the transportation system in Massachusetts, understands the relationship of the transportation system to mobility, to quality of life and to economic development. And so I think this is going to be a continuing story. It will fully-fund all the bridge and highway projects we have in queue for 2008 and 2009 and 2010. So we look forward to working with members of the legislature, we will happily participate in your reviews and your hearings. We want to provide the legislature and the public with as much information about what's in the bill from a transportation investment point of view. I will say that there are two critical dates on my calendar. One is March 15, which is the start of the 2008 construction season, and April 1 which is the due date for notifying cities and towns about Chapter 90 funding. So I hope we can work effectively together with the legislature in a way to meet the requirements of the law in respect to the Chapter 90 but also take as full advantage of the construction season next year as we possibly can. And just to say in conclusion, that I will continue to work closely with Governor Patrick on the bigger reform piece that we are actively engaged in, and we are in discussion with legislatures and stake-holders now in the hopes that we will be able to move from a series of ideas to a real plan in the near future.

Thank you.