Last week, Senator Sal DiDomenico and his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate passed a $17 billion transportation bond bill that will fund major transportation infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth in an effort to modernize, expand, and maintain our transportation system.
“This bill places an emphasis on regional equity and accessibility when it comes to transportation, something that is much needed at a time like this,” stated Senator Sal DiDomenico. “Equal access to transportation is intrinsically connected with equal access to economic opportunity, and this bill seeks to increase this accessibility through major infrastructure improvements while also creating jobs to help those populations who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and plagued by economic uncertainty.”
Within the bill, Senator DiDomenico successfully secured funding for his district by facilitating the inclusion of language that allocated $108 million for transportation improvements in the West End of Boston by relocating a portion of Storrow Drive and its access ramps to Charles circle. In addition, Senator DiDomenico filed several amendments that were adopted into the final bill, including $2.5 million to assist with improvements to the Sweetster Circle section of Everett.
“One of my top priorities was making sure our district received the necessary funds to invest in these key development projects, particularly in those areas that have long been in need of improvements,” explained Senator Sal DiDomenico. “It is critical that even during this period of financial hardship and uncertainty, we take the time to invest in modern, reliable infrastructure and create jobs at the same time. I am pleased that this funding will be made available for the city of Everett to continue improvements to Sweetser Circle.”
Senator DiDomenico also successfully secured an amendment concerning micromobility. The amendment ensures that e-bikes are adequately regulated by classifying them separately from combustion-engine vehicles. DiDomenico has been working closely with the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition on e-bike legislation this session and language from his bill was included to the final version of the bond bill passed by the Senate. “This important legislation is the culmination of tireless efforts by several organizations, especially MassBike,” explained Senator DiDomenico. “This is an important priority for my district, and I am confident these micromobility measures will put us on par with other states in ensuring that e-bikes are adequately regulated, and our roads remain safe.”
In addition, Senator DiDomenico also secured an additional $20 million to improve access to bus lanes in his district through Charlestown, Chelsea and Everett. This has been a priority for many communities in DiDomenico’s district and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has been a strong partner in this endeavor.
The overall bill, An Act Authorizing and Accelerating Transportation Investment, authorizes funding for a wide variety of infrastructure projects, including both upkeep and maintenance, as well as modernization. In addition to addressing issues such as construction, regional initiatives, traffic congestion, and transportation network company data sharing, this legislation addresses equity in the transportation system by requiring a low-income fare program which will provide discounted transit fares to qualifying riders on MBTA transportation and commuter rail, starting on January 1, 2022.
The bill represents an important step in reducing traffic congestion, and tasks the Department of Transportation with collecting new information and creating expert-driven plans to respond to the issue. These include seeking federal approval to join the Value Pricing Pilot Program, which provides state agencies with options to manage congestion.
The bill must now be reconciled with legislation previously passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives.