Markey, House Pass Transportation Bond Bill
Legislation calls for funding of South Coast Rail, Padanaram Bridge repair
and other important transportation and infrastructure projects
(BOSTON)- On Monday, State Representative Christopher Markey (D- Dartmouth) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in unanimously passing H3860, also known as the Transportation Bond Bill. The funding package seeks to address critical transportation issues, including the repair and reconstruction of roads and bridges all across the state and a reinvestment in the Commonwealth's beleaguered public transportation system. Markey, a member of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation, cited several components of the bill that immediately bolstered critical local projects.
"Identifying and locking funding for the South Coast Rail is huge. Of course, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done but the goal that so many of us in the South Coast have been working toward is much closer tonight," Markey said. The bill specifically calls for more than $2 billion "for the purpose of implementing South Coast Rail improvements; provided, that funds may be used for transportation planning, design, permitting and engineering, acquisition of interests in land, vehicle procurement, construction, construction of stations, and right-of-way acquisition.” “I’m pleased that the House voted to include funds for the South Coast Rail in its recent transportation bill,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. “Transportation funding and economic development are inextricably linked. It is my hope and belief that this project will prompt growth and provide stability for the region. I thank the local delegation for their leadership and advocacy on behalf of their constituents.”
According to Markey, a massive project with a considerable price tag is not easy to sell in the Legislature, particularly when it is outside of Greater Boston. However, he credited the local legislative delegation for their unrelenting advocacy and for providing a loud, unified voice for the South Coast in Boston. Markey, however, saved the bulk of his praise for Transportation Committee Chairman William Straus (D- Mattapoisett). "Everyone has been pushing," Markey said, "but Bill has really impressed upon Speaker DeLeo the importance of this project to the region and the Commonwealth. He’s provided sound leadership, both on the Transportation Committee and among the local delegation, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude." He added that, once the bill is enacted, "the ball will be in the Governor's court to try to accelerate the permitting process and get shovels in the ground."
In addition to the rail, the rehabilitation of the Dartmouth's Padanaram Causeway Bridge is a project a long time in the making, and the bill passed on Wednesday calls for $500,000 in funding for necessary repairs and construction. "The Padanaram Bridge is such an important gateway for both seasonal visitors and resident taxpayers, and we really can't afford to have it impassable. More importantly, the Town's emergency first responders need to be able to count on the Bridge being in working condition. This funding will enable the Town of Dartmouth to get the job done and done right," Markey said.
David T. Hickox, Director of Public Works for the Town of Dartmouth, thanked Representative Markey for his work in securing funding for this important Town project. “This is great news,” Hickox said. “$500,000 in supplemental funding for the Padanaram Bridge Project will allow the Town to expand the original scope of work in order to address both long term and immediate repairs. The funding will also allow the project to be bid earlier than originally planned resulting in a more reliable bridge operation, benefitting both marine and vehicle traffic.”
The expansive bill, which funds other important regional and statewide projects like upgrades to New Bedford Airport, modernization and improvement of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and repair and reconstruction of state roads and bridges, will now go to the Senate for consideration and, if successful in the Senate, to the Governor's Office. While Markey is optimistic, he also urged citizens to remember that the future Governor will have a significant voice as to whether the project is completed. "We need to make sure that whomever we choose to be the next Governor will wholeheartedly support the project. We cannot accept any caveats by out next Governor as to his or her support of funding this crucial project. The money is now available for this project. The people of the South Coast who support the rail should consider how strong the candidates support the rail project when deciding who will be our next Governor," Markey said.