Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has issued a new statewide road and bridge policy, directing that the state "fix it first" by giving priority to repairing existing facilities and use community-friendly solutions and context-sensitive design in its projects.
The purpose of the new policy is to prevent sprawl and to recognize the commonwealth's citizens and communities as the customers of the transportation agency. Other objectives are to avoid the cost and conflict of "unnecessary road widenings" and encourage sustainable transportation modes such as walking, bicycling and public transportation.
The policy directs the secretary of transportation and construction to review the agency's highway-design manual and incorporate, by Oct. 1, context-sensitive design, traffic-calming and multi-modal accommodation. An advisory committee will be appointed to assist in the process. Projects with community-friendly design that can be undertaken immediately using existing funds shall be identified and implemented by MassHighway as quickly as possible.
An ombudsman is to hear and resolve community concerns, and a waiver process is to be initiated to expedite requests for flexibility in design standards.
Gov. Romney also has called for development, in consultation with metropolitan planning organizations and municipalities, of a plan for repairing all the state's structurally deficient bridges.