Roads across Gloucester and Cape Ann are deteriorating, and if we are going to make them safer, put people to work and in the end save millions of dollars for taxpayers, the Legislature needs to pass long-overdue highway funds.
Fortunately, Gov. Patrick has recognized the need for these repairs and has included $300 million in his transportation bond bill. However, debate over that bill could last for months and the time for road repair contracts is now, particularly following this harsh winter.
Approval of funds for local road construction and resurfacing – state Chapter 90 money that comes from a share of the gas tax – was delayed for months last year. This red tape cost cities and towns on Cape Ann and across the Commonwealth nearly 75 percent of the paving season, preventing the start of many necessary road repair projects.
Every construction season delayed or missed puts us years behind in road work. The paving season in our state is brief, running only from May to September, and by getting Chapter 90 money later and later, we are forced to do the work in bad weather – and work done in the cold simply does not last as long.
That’s why it’s so critical that the $300 million needed to pave local roads is passed and funded by the end of April this year.
If this occurs, communities on Cape Ann stand to receive more than $1.7 million in total funding. For instance, under this $300 million plan now being considered at the State House, Gloucester would receive $1,010,917 for repaving and repairs; Rockport $290,199; $223,241 for Manchester, and $200,724 for Essex.
We cannot afford to have our potholed, fractured roads go another year without work. If even one other season passes up by, the costs could soar from a simple leveling and top course to more much expensive replacements.