Governor Deval L. Patrick
Transportation Bond Bill Signing Remarks
April 17, 2008
Massachusetts is weathering the national economic storm better than most. Not because we're standing still, but we've been working to grow jobs and to create opportunities and have strong results to show for our efforts in signature industries like the life sciences, clean energy sector.
I have confidence in the Commonwealth, and my confidence depends on continuing to make targeted investments that stimulate the economy today and ensure long-term growth and prosperity.
This Transportation bond bill is one piece of a massive revitalization of our Commonwealth, an investment in the things that will help keep us strong in the wake of national economic turmoil, and set the stage for our continued success. These investments are accompanied by reforms in how we manage and deliver transportation projects.
I want to thank the Senate President, the Speaker of the House, Chairman Baddour and Chairman Wagner, who could not be here, Chairman Montigny and Dean Flynn, Dean Flynn could not be here, for working with us to address our transportation infrastructure in comprehensive ways. Many of the projects outlined here are investments that communities have been waiting on for a very, very long time. Thanks to all of you, we can get to work now.
All told, the $1.6 billion invested here to rebuild roads and bridges allows us to leverage $1.8 billion in federal funds, generating $3.5 billion in all for much needed maintenance and improvement.
The bill includes $150 million for Chapter 90 grants to cities and towns to fund important road and bridge improvement projects in every corner of the Commonwealth. I see our friends from MMA nodding, appreciatively I hope.
The bill also continues our commitment to projects like the South Coast Rail Extension to Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford, as well as the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford.
The legislation contains important reforms as well. Reforms in how we streamline projects, and how we use police details, and in how we align the benefit systems of all our transportation agencies. A special thanks to the Senate President for taking the lead to bring these reforms forward.
Today in Massachusetts, projects take too long to complete and that results in inflation-related overruns that can add millions to the final price tag. Right now the typical project, the typical road project, takes ten years to move from concept, through design, to completion. The reforms we're announcing today will allow us to cut that timeline almost in half, to just under 6 years. You can see that illustrated on these graphs back over here, which we'll show you in a minute.
This ten year timeline costs Massachusetts millions of dollars every year. Under the ten year timeline, a typical $5 million project often escalates to $9.5 million before it's over. By cutting the time-line down, as we propose to do here, we can cut the final costs by $2.2 million on that prototypical project - a reduction of 44%. That's real savings, savings that can be plowed right back into rebuilding and repairing our transportation infrastructure.
Secretary Cohen, Commissioner Paiewonsky and the team at MassHighway have a plan to cut consultant selection processes by almost a year, shorten project development steps by nearly half, streamline bidding periods, and accelerate the construction phase of all projects. We can do this without sacrificing community input or by compromising the environmental review process.
Our commitment to a streamlined process comes with an equally important need to keep the public clearly informed on our progress. That is why I'm proud to announce today the creation of the MassHighway Scorecard, which is, I guess, demonstrated, mocked up over here. The Scorecard offers quarterly reports on our work, measuring conditions of roads, bridges and rails; safety throughout the system; mobility reports on congestion and commute lines; and on-time and on-budget management of construction projects
The Scorecard is available for the first time today online at www.mass.gov/eot/scorecard. We look forward to working with the Senate President, with the Speaker, as well as with the business community, local residents and all stakeholders to develop for every region of the state a well-maintained, well-planned system of roads, bridges and public transportation that meets the needs of our economy, our communities and our environment.
Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen
As the Governor said, today is a very important day in our efforts to bring badly-needed investments and reforms to our transportation system. This bill has been a collaborative effort and I'd like to acknowledge the work of the Senate President, the Speaker, and the legislature in crafting a sound bill. In particular, I'd like to recognize Chairmen Baddour and Wagner for their work on the Transportation Committee, as well as Chairman Montigny and Dean Flynn for their work on the Bonding Committee.
The Governor has talked about today's message, that the Patrick Administration, in partnership with the legislature, is rebuilding Massachusetts by creating economic opportunities and restoring public trust. The signing of today's bill is an unprecedented reinvestment in our state's infrastructure. It includes capital dollars for our roads and bridges, for our transit infrastructure, and for planning the transportation system that we will need in the decades ahead.
There's no question that we need safe bridges, smooth roads, and comprehensive transportation, and sound planning if we want to be competitive in a global economy. And to truly be competitive, we need to make sure that we are maximizing the resources that we have.
Let me talk in more depth about the reforms that we are announcing today and the reforms that the governor is signing into law. Today we are posting the MassHighway Scorecard, a document which lays out for the first time the Highway Department's performance measures in plain English and makes them easily available to the public. The Scorecard is modeled on the best practices throughout the country and presents the benchmarks that are important to the people of Massachusetts.
Restoring the public's confidence includes talking about the things we are doing well, but it also includes talking about when and where we haven't lived up to the public's expectations. The Scorecard will tell the full story, good and bad, hopefully more good than bad. MassHighway will be releasing the Scorecard quarterly and will be posting it on its website. It's on the website today because we are firm believers in the motto that what gets measured gets managed. The more we measure, the more we can hold ourselves accountable and be held accountable by the public.
Commissioner Paiewonsky and her team, I also acknowledge Commissioner Paiewonsky and her team, have put together a comprehensive reform package, as the governor said, to cut the time it takes to complete projects from 10 years to fewer than 6 years. This includes a reorganization and reorientation of senior management and hiring some needed managers to ensure the success for a department that is embracing change. This includes a Deputy Chief Engineer dedicated to bridges and asset management and Utility Engineers in each district to coordinate with utility companies on relocation of utility infrastructure that sometimes impacts our ability to get our projects done on time.
MassHighway has laid out an ambitious plan to cut the time it takes to fix our bridges and roads, and even as these reforms are instituted, we will continue to drill into the legal and engineering processes required to get construction work started and to further streamline the timelines for completion. That is a promise that I have made to the governor. These reforms will fall into four categories. We are instituting incentives and penalties, we are creating transparencies, we are cutting red tape and we are putting more workers together on the front lines.
The reforms are a major piece of our overall reform effort and a big step forward, and I promise you there is more to come. This is truly a major milestone in our effort to create economic opportunities, restore public trust, and rebuild Massachusetts.