By: State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell – February, 2014
With a seasoned delegation and a firm commitment to transportation linked to economic development, the Merrimack Valley saw many important local projects included in the recent transportation bond bill.
As a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, I am also pleased with the bond bill from a statewide perspective.
The 12.7 billion dollar bond bill received unanimous bi-partisan support because it focuses upon assistance to both cities and towns, and economic development. It authorizes:
300 million dollars for cities and towns to complete local road and bridge projects;
350 million dollars for regional improvements to include support for projects related to the Methuen Rotary;
125 million dollars to expand historic parkways;
30 million dollars in grant money to encourage pedestrian pathways for walking and biking;
2.5 million dollars for expansion of the Red and Orange lines.
Transportation and Economic Development
For the Commonwealth to continue growing economically, both retaining our own educated and skilled young people and adding others from elsewhere to our State’s population, we are going to have to make steady investments in our transportation network to include public transportation.
Last year’s transportation investments by the Legislature changed the financing equation in two important ways:
First – any increases in the gas tax must be used to for pay for the maintenance and operation of transportation systems, not for any other budget priority.
Secondly – the Legislature increased the gas tax from seven cents per gallon to ten cents per gallon and indexed it to inflation. Not increasing the gas tax for twenty-two years, as was the case, did a disservice to the taxpayers and business owners of the Commonwealth.
The material cost of asphalt, a main ingredient for road repair, has gone up as much as 500% since 1991. For this reason and others, the conservative MA Taxpayer’s Foundation endorsed the policy changes we made to include the gas tax increase.
I agree with their perspective because these transportation policies passed into law have contributed substantially to the solid economic growth the Commonwealth has enjoyed for the past two years.