Highway “Takes The Cake” In $15 Billion Spending Plan

State House News Service

Author: Chris Lisinski

Department of Transportation overseers stamped their approval Wednesday on a five-year capital plan calling for spending nearly $15 billion on improving reliability, modernizing and expanding the state’s transportation system. MassDOT’s board voted unanimously in favor of a $14.9 billion proposal covering fiscal years 2023 through 2027, embracing a plan that looks ahead a half-decade rather than a single year for the first time since COVID-19 hit. More than half of the spending would go toward reliability projects such as routine maintenance and repairs. A bit more than a quarter would go to modernization efforts, including required accessibility and safety improvements. The rest would be divided between expansions, Chapter 90 reimbursements to help municipalities with road and bridge maintenance, and other planning services. Projects funded by the plan include the major ongoing Sumner Tunnel rehabilitation effort, replacement of the Rourke Bridge in Lowell, and design and permitting of the once-in-a-generation push to reorganize the confluence of highway, rail and pedestrian infrastructure in a narrow sliver of land in Allston. Highways across Massachusetts feature as the largest target for investment in the five-year plan — or as MassDOT Director of Capital Planning Michelle Ho put it, “highway does take the cake” — with more than $10 billion set to flow to reliability, modernization and expansion of the state’s roadways. About $1.4 billion of the MassDOT plan would put state dollars toward MBTA expansion and state of good repair projects, and the transit agency also has its own $9.6 billion five-year plan in place for other major projects including South Coast Rail.