ROADS/BRIDGES: Some road and bridge projects in Mass. may be in jeopardy

Repeal of gas-tax indexing could cost DOT billions

News November 06, 2014
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The action by voters in Massachusetts may have limited the choices of the department of transportation.
Last year, Massachusetts passed an $800 million transportation finance bill that would be fueled by a three-cent increase in the gas tax and by linking the tax to the Consumer Price Index. On Nov. 4, voters repealed the latter, which could end up costing the Massachusetts DOT $1 billion in revenue and borrowing power over the next decade.
Officials are now scrambling to re-prioritize road and bridge projects in the area. Like many states, Massachusetts has been trying to come up with a method to repair its structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges, and the funding loss may lead to more closures and weight restrictions.
“This vote is going to delay our ability to get to those bridges and make them safe,” said Richard Dimino, executive director of A Better City.
Lawmakers may add another increase to the gas tax to help make up for the difference, but since the three-cent spike was just put into place it is doubtful they will want to go down that road any time soon.
“I don’t see the legislature taking this on,” said Michael Widmer, president of Taxpayers Foundation. “I think the voters have spoken and the legislature and the administration now have to deal with that reality.”

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