Transportation for Massachusetts applauds Governor Baker’s filing of a $9.7 billion bond bill to leverage incoming federal funds from the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The broad outlines of this legislation -- to help modernize and electrify our transit systems, repair our bridges and roads, and incentivize electric vehicles – have the potential to improve people’s lives in every corner of the state.
We encourage the state legislature to take up this bond bill and hold hearings as soon as possible. Massachusetts is now competing with other states for discretionary federal grant funding that is included in the IIJA. The sooner the legislature enacts this bill, the sooner we can leverage this urgently needed funding.
As our state legislators advance this bill, it will be critical that they:
Focus on transportation justice. Residents in underserved communities need access to safe, reliable and affordable transit, and for too long have been subjected to inequitable investment and service. The legislature has an obligation to right historic wrongs and focus federal and state funding on transit, cycling and pedestrian investments to benefit marginalized communities across the state. Communities of color in particular bear the burden of poor air quality and substandard service. Massachusetts must redress this long standing inequity and ensure that transportation investments advance justice.
Build on climate progress. We thank the Governor for prioritizing climate readiness and carbon emissions reduction in this legislation. Fossil fuel-powered transportation is the greatest source of carbon emissions in Massachusetts, while also contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular disease in people living in environmental justice communities. It is critical we take on this crisis with investments and policies that lead to cleaner air and water, and not add to climate pollution.
Provide state-level matching funds. Timely legislative action on this bill will provide the state match for federal funding for critical projects such as electrification of our transit network.
Make additional long-term transportation investments in infrastructure and operations. This legislation gets us part way to where we need to go. The full cost to electrify our transit fleets, upgrade our deficient bridges, ensure safe and welcoming walkways and bikeways, and bring our local roads and other infrastructure into a state of good repair is not covered by the IIJA, nor by existing state revenues. This bill authorizes state debt to match new federal funding, but the size of this bill is not sufficient to address the needs of people in our cities, suburbs and rural communities.
- Advance sustainable transportation revenue. Massachusetts needs additional, dedicated revenue to meet all of our statewide transportation needs, including capital investments and operations, because we will face operating deficits as soon as FY 2024. We must modernize our transportation system and support it with fair and sufficient funding to ensure a high level of service and safety for residents in every community.
In summary, we need timely state and civic leadership to ensure that we have the resources both to make needed capital investments, and also fund the operations needed to protect our economy, and deliver the clean and equitable transportation network that the people of Massachusetts deserve.