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February 21, 2013

City eyes state's $3B for roads

Gloucester’s public works officials are crossing their fingers in hopes of seeing legislation pass that would allow directors around the state to finally develop a reliable, long-term plan for funding local road and street projects.

The $3 billion bond bill that Gov. Deval Patrick and Transportation Secretary Richard Davey are looking to file would create a statewide budget of $300 million per year for appropriation to cities and towns, $100 million more per year than the state has appropriated for road work in towns and cities in the past two years.

Gloucester Public Works Director Mike Hale said Wednesday that a major difference he and other public works directors around the state would see is that money would flow from the state earlier in the construction season, which typically runs from late April or early May through the end of October. That forward funding, coupled with an appropriation rate that would hold mostly steady for about ten years, would allow Hale to develop a long-term plan for repairing Gloucester’s public roadways.

“I don’t need to wait for the funding cycle to happen every year to see if it’s there or not there. It’s going to be more or less constant,” Hale said.

@text1:“Right now, we are going to make a decision — all of us — about what kind of Commonwealth we want and whether we’re going to invest in it, whether we’re going to sacrifice for it,” Gov. Patrick said of his plans for transportation investment.

Typically, Gloucester receives notice of the amount of funding the city can expect for its roadways by the start of April, but the actual money tends to roll in months later, according to Hale.

“Last year, we got the anticipated funds April 1, but didn’t get the actual funds until July,” Hale said. “Then it’s very late. Basically, half the construction season’s over.”

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