State Transportation Secretary Richard Davey is pressing the Massachusetts Senate to approve a transportation bond bill as a new construction season approaches. The $12.7 billion bond bill approved earlier this month in a unanimous vote in the Massachusetts House includes funding for some long-sought projects in western Massachusetts.
Since approving a $300 million transportation funding bill last week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick recently filed a terms bill, which if approved by the legislature, would provide funding to roads and bridge projects before the end of the summer work season.
A new report from the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group highlighting the decline in the average number of miles driven by the average American is supporting the call for investments in public education in the commonwealth.
The report released by the MASSPIRG Education Fund titled “A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future” says that on average, the amount of miles driven by Americans has been on the decline for the past eight years.
A train carrying construction debris derailed Tuesday morning in the Berkshire County town of Sheffield.
Train cars that derailed on tracks owned by the Housatonic Railroad toppled over around 1:15 am on Tuesday and are now being cleared by the railroad company, according to Sheffield police chief Eric Munson.
“They were pretty much in assessment phase yesterday,” said Munson. “They started bringing in their heavy equipment early this morning and their estimate is two to three days before all the debris is removed and the trains are uprighted and the tracks are repaired.”
The $500 million tax bill approved this week by the Massachusetts House to fund transportation should address the immediate financial needs of the state’s 14 regional transit authorities. But advocates for public transportation say it is a regressive approach that does not meet the demand for more bus and train service.
Democratic leaders in the Massachusetts legislature and House Republicans both answered Governor Deval Patrick’s 2014 transportation budget with plans of their own, but the governor is warning that a plan too small would hurt low and middle income families .
On Tuesday, top Democrats in the Massachusetts legislature including Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and chairs of the House and Senate Ways and Means committees released a transportation plan to rival investments called for in Governor Patrick’s fiscal year 2014 budget proposal.
Operators of the largest public transit system in western Massachusetts are not planning to hike fares or cut service to close a projected budget gap. The expectation is that there will be more state funding for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and the rest of the state’s regional transit systems.
Massachusetts is facing huge budget deficits in its highway and mass transit systems. The Patrick administration is likely to call early next year for higher taxes and tolls. The state, meanwhile, is putting millions of dollars more into a major transportation project in western Massachusetts. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.