Governor Deval Patrick's Budget Recommendation - House 2 Fiscal Year 2015

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Transportation Reform

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Governor Patrick    FY 2015 Budget Recommendation:
    Key Initiatives

    Deval L. Patrick, Governor

Transportation infrastructure is vital to creating sustainable economic growth, supporting job creation and reducing the environmental and social impacts of congestion. Through reforms that make more efficient use of existing resources, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) continues to do more with less. However, the Commonwealth’s transportation network has been underfunded for decades, creating a backlog of upgrades to transportation assets.  Funds made available by the 2013 Transportation Finance Law will allow MassDOT to modernize this aging infrastructure, address the MBTA deficit and stop the historical practice of funding transportation operating costs with borrowed funds.  Through a transformative initiative of reforms and new investments, the Patrick Administration will continue to improve the Commonwealth’s transportation network and expand access to transportation infrastructure for all residents and businesses of the Commonwealth.

Transportation Revitalization Accomplishments

Creating MassDOT and Increasing Efficiencies

Title: Governor Patrick at MBTA Station - Description: This picture shows a MBTA employee greeting Governor Patrick   at the Park Street MBTA Station in Boston.Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Patrick Administration, in partnership with the Legislature, has made great progress in addressing the deficiencies in our transportation system. With the enactment of the 2009 Transportation Reform Legislation, Governor Patrick consolidated all transportation agencies into MassDOT, marking the first time in Massachusetts history that a single transportation agency was responsible for planning, investing in, maintaining and operating the statewide transportation system. Through this reform, which reduced bureaucracy, improved safety, enhanced the customer experience and modernized employee benefits, the Patrick Administration has saved over $525 M taxpayer dollars to date.

Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Investing in Commonwealth Infrastructure

Over the course of his Administration, Governor Patrick has made an effort to reverse decades of neglect of the Commonwealth’s infrastructure. Over the past five years, the Administration has doubled the capital investment in our road and bridge program and created the $3 B Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP), the largest statewide infrastructure investment program ever. ABP repairs bridges that are or will become structurally deficient and is an example of this Administration’s innovative approach to fixing infrastructure deficiencies in an efficient and cost effective manner. Through the program, Massachusetts has become a national leader in accelerated bridge construction, hosting other states interested in learning how the Administration has successfully implemented innovative technologies for bridge projects. The program has reduced the number of structurally deficient bridges from 543 to 437, a decline of nearly 20%.  The program has also created 11,745 direct construction jobs and sustained 11,281 direct construction jobs. ABP builds conditions for long-term economic growth and saves the Commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars in avoided construction cost inflation and deferred maintenance costs by speeding up the bridge reconstruction process. Accelerated construction times also reduce the amount of time drivers are inconvenienced by delays.

MassDOT Initiatives

MassDOT is embarking on a number of initiatives to gather public input in order to develop a comprehensive transportation plan, improve environmental responsibility, promote public health and evaluate the results of transportation spending.  These initiatives include:

Title: Worcester Regional Transit Authority Bus - Description: This picture shows a zero emission Worcester Regional Transit Authority Bus at a bus stop.

Source: Massachusetts Department of Transportation

  • GreenDOT – This comprehensive environmental responsibility and sustainability initiative is focused on three goals: (1) reducing greenhouse gas emissions; (2) promoting healthy transportation options of walking, bicycling and public transit; and (3) supporting smart growth and development. MassDOT has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over two million tons by 2020, a reduction of about 7.3% below 1990 Massachusetts transportation sector emission levels.
  • We Move Massachusetts – This performance evaluation process measures the impact of capital spending against MassDOT goals and policy objectives. We Move Massachusetts was informed by strategic public outreach to better understand the needs of MassDOT customers.
  • Beyond Boston – This regional transit study was designed to more effectively strategize, prioritize and deliver transit service throughout the Commonwealth. Beyond Boston identified opportunities for greater collaboration between the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and neighboring Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) and mechanisms for streamlining the management of public transportation assets.
  • Healthy Transportation Compact – A requirement of the 2009 transportation reform legislation, this inter-agency initiative is designed to facilitate transportation decisions that balance the needs of all transportation users, expand mobility, improve public health, support a cleaner environment and create stronger communities. In September of 2013, MassDOT issued the “Healthy Transportation Policy Directive” requiring all state transportation projects to increase bicycling, transit and walking options.

Responsibly and Sustainably Financing Transportation

Title: MBTA Maintenance Facility - Description: This picture shows a worker repairing an MBTA train car at a repair facility.Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The 2013 Transportation Finance Law raised additional annual resources for transportation. These resources include increasing the (1) motor fuels tax by three cents and indexing it to the rate of inflation, (2) mandating a series of reforms, efficiencies and fare increases to increase revenue at MassDOT and the MBTA, (3) dedicating motor sales tax collection to transportation, (4) dedicating revenue from the underground storage tank fee to transportation and (5) mandating a general fund transfer for transportation.

As part of this additional revenue, the Patrick Administration will increase operating funding for MassDOT and MBTA by $141 M in the Governor’s FY 2015 budget. In FY 2015, this investment will assist in:

  • Continuing to eliminate the MBTA’s structural operating deficit, which prior to FY 2014 had been solved through the use of one-time, unsustainable funding sources;
  • Continuing modest MBTA service enhancements including bus and subway service improvements; and
  • Ending the decades-old practice of using borrowed funds (bonds) to pay for personnel and other operating costs by FY 2016, which will allow millions in additional capital investment.

The additional revenue also will help support capital investments through reduced operating costs on the capital budget and increased bonding capacity, pending legislative approval of a transportation bond bill. $12.4 B in capital investments will be made in public transit, highway, bridge and aeronautics programs over the next five years, assuming federal funding remains stable. With this investment, the Patrick Administration will:

  • Complete the Green Line Extension, South Coast Rail project and expansion of South Station;
  • Replace MBTA Red and Orange Line cars, reducing delays and improving the functionality of two of the MBTA’s highest-volume lines;
  • Replace Regional Transit Authority (RTA) buses to improve quality and accessibility;
  • Invest in local and regional bridges, resurfacing, signal improvements and other necessary projects to improve our roadways;
  • Begin reconstruction of the I-91 Viaduct in Springfield and the I-93 and 95 interchanges in Canton;
  • Invest in airport infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth;
  • Invest in rail programs, including the completion of the Knowledge Corridor in Western Massachusetts, the Industrial Rail Access Program, the future acquisition of rail lines to support passenger service from Pittsfield to New York City and Springfield to Boston and the extension of CapeFLYER service; and
  • Convert to cashless All Electronic Tolling on the Massachusetts Turnpike to reduce congestion and advance plans to modernize existing interchanges. 

Title: Traffic on I-93 - Description: This picture shows cars and truck driving down Interstate 93.

New Transportation Reform Initiatives

In addition to this critical investment, MassDOT will continue to improve its business practices to save taxpayer dollars. The Administration looks forward to working with the Legislature to discuss the following statutory changes:

  • Advertising The Administration proposes to generate an additional $100,000 to $200,000 in annual revenue by allowing MassDOT, similar to the MBTA, to enter into agreements for advertising within MassDOT and its facilities. 
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations(MPOs)

    Federally-designated partners in the transportation planning process, MPOs help their member communities identify and prioritize transportation needs for project funding and study. Governor Patrick proposes a joint Administration and Legislative commission to recommend a MPO structure which is effective, equitable, transparent and expands public involvement in the annual process of programming federal transportation dollars for expenditure.

  • Utility Reimbursements – The need to relocate utilities is one of the top reasons for infrastructure project delay, accounting for over 20% of all delays. In 2009, only 33% of the projects that were completed that year did so on-time and within the original contract schedule. Federally-aided construction programs already provide MassDOT with the ability to reimburse utilities for the relocation of conduits, poles, lines and associated equipment, reducing necessary construction times. Implementation of utility reimbursements in the Accelerated Bridge and Federal Aid Programs has improved on-time performance significantly, up to 72% in 2011. In addition to these programs, Governor Patrick intends to extend utility relocation reimbursements to projects funded by the state in an effort to increase project turnaround and efficiency.

  • MBTA Tort Reform – Aligning the MBTA tort liability cap with that of other state agencies (a cap of $100,000) could save MBTA around $6 M annually.
  • Off Road Regional Spending of Turnpike Toll Funds – The Patrick Administration proposes to utilize toll revenue collected on the Turnpike for regional road, rail and transit projects throughout the state using a distribution model proportionally tied to the amount of toll revenue that is collected within each of the various highway districts along the Turnpike. For example, toll revenue could be used for additional bus service in Springfield or additional commuter rail trains from Worcester to Boston, or road repairs and improvements in Western Mass.
  • MBTA Credit Enhancement – In FY 2015, Governor Patrick proposes pledging $160 M each year to the MBTA in order to assure purchasers of MBTA debt and reduce debt service costs.
  • Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) – In cooperation with the 15 independent RTAs, MassDOT is working to reform the statutory funding formula to allow for a more equitable funding formula based on ridership, service plans and territory.

Prepared by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
For more information email: (617) 727-2040

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