GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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June 17, 2013

State delay snags city plans for paving

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick’s decision to withhold half of the funding approved by the Legislature for local road repairs is putting a strain on his administration’s relationship with municipal officials who can’t understand why the governor would balk at needed transportation improvements.

Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor reiterated last week that the administration intends to wait until the House and Senate finalize a transportation financing plan with new tax revenue to decide whether to release an additional $150 million for Chapter 90 road repairs — the second half of a $300 million local street and roadway package that has already been approved by both the state House and Senate chambers.

“Depending on the final disposition of the transportation financing plan, it may be possible to release additional funding for either the fall or the [2014] spring construction season,” Shor said during a meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission.

But that prospect is not sitting well with local officials, including Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk.

Gloucester is targeted to receive a little over $1 million through the full package, while the Cape Ann towns of Rockport, Essex and Manchester are pegged to get more than $200,000 apiece, for a $1.78 million Cape Ann total.

The governor’s handling of the funding — and the delay in releasing any of the aid, which just came late last month means that each community will get half of its allocation toward a constructiion season that already should have been well under way, Kirk and other officials say.

“The impact locally is we will end up paving in the absolute peak time of the season,” Kirk said. “Instead of paving in April and May, we’ll be paving in July and August, and that’s a major inconvenience for every visitor and resident.”

That’s similar to what happened last year Kirk said, when the release of the funding was delayed on Beacon Hill.

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