The Massachusetts Senate took an important step toward increasing funding for bicycle and pedestrian paths and other infrastructure this week. The transportation bond bill was reported out of the Senate bonding committee, and is now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It is scheduled for a vote by the full Senate next week, where it is expected to pass. MassBike led advocacy efforts that protected $377,255,000 for bicycle and pedestrians paths, and also played a significant role in ensuring $50 million for a Complete Streets certification and incentive program. The bill also provides for an additional $23 million in funding for other bike-related projects.
We thank the members of the Senate bonding committee, including Chairman Brian Joyce (D – Milton) and Senator Ken Donnelly (D – Arlington), for helping to ensure this funding has remained in the bill.
In total, this bill opens up roughly $398 million in bonding authority over the next five years specifically for biking (not including the $50M for Complete Streets), plus additional money for roads, bridges, and sidewalks which should include bicycle facilities where appropriate. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will have to be resolved, but we do not expect changes to either the path or Complete Streets funding.
While this is a very exciting development, the bond bill is not real money yet. It creates a wishlist, and a cap, on how much the state can borrow for the items in the bill. So far, MassDOT has budgeted only $130 million for bike/ped paths over the next five years. While we appreciate MassDOT’s significant financial commitment to biking and walking, the bond bill leaves open the possibility that they could do more, and we will continue to advocate for enough funding to truly meet our needs.
We have been working on this campaign for almost a year. Our work included testifying at multiple legislative hearings, sending letters of support, activating our new statewide advocacy network, and in-person meetings with key legislators. With the help and support of our members and partner organizations, we are close to securing significant funding for biking and walking for the next five years.