Jan. 15 Update: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has signed into law a $16.5 billion transportation funding bond bill. The governor vetoed rideshare fee increases in the same bill, stating that travel patterns need to be reassessed post-pandemic before instituting new fees.
Original Post: Massachusetts lawmakers Jan. 6 overwhelmingly approved a $16.5 billion bond for transportation infrastructure. The bill now goes before Gov. Charlie Baker (R), who has 10 days to approve or reject the measure.
If signed into law, House Bill 5248 (H 5248) will provide billions over the next several years for highways, bridges, trains and capital projects. The compromise came after several failed bills throughout the year, including one passed by the House that would have raised taxes and fees to support investment. Only one lawmaker voted against H 5248.
In addition to the bond, the bill also raises the flat fee on rideshares to incentive more shared rides versus single-rider trips. H 5248 would also commission a study on congestion pricing.
John Pourbaix, executive director of the Construction Industries of Massachusetts group, commended lawmakers for the preliminary approval of H 5248. “Passage of this bill allows MassDOT and the MBTA to continue procuring the vast list of capital projects which will preserve thousands of jobs for the hard working men and women in the transportation construction industry and, in turn, will help the state’s economic recovery and improve public safety.”
The bill passed minutes before the state’s 2020 legislative session concluded. Lawmakers returned to the Boston statehouse later that day for their 2021 session.