Massachusetts Facing $8 Billion Gap in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure
Boston, MA– A recent report released by A Better City, a nonprofit organization of Boston business leaders, finds that the state’s transportation system is in serious need of more cash over the next ten years in order to fund infrastructure projects including the maintenance of roads, bridges, tunnels, and the MBTA public transportation system.
As of now, the MBTA is funded for the next five years; after that, the state will face an approximate $2 billion shortfall, partly as a result of reduced federal funding for such projects. Commonwealth Magazine reports that the state highway system maintained by MassHighway needs over $6 billion more than it has budgeted over the next ten years to keep up its roads and bridges.
The funding gap only accounts for maintenance of existing infrastructure and does not even take into account the cost of proposed projects for the modernization or expansion of the state's transportation systems, like the South Coast Rail, the Red and Blue line connector, the North-South rail link, South Station expansion, or the Allston interchange.
One of the report's key conclusions is that Massachusetts "still has not adequately addressed" problems outlined in the seminal 2007 Transportation Finance Commission report. Governor Charlie Baker has pledged to spend $8 billion over the next five years to improve MBTA service, and while that's a step in the right direction, there remains the question of how MassHighway improvements will be funded.
The report conducted by A Better City with support from the UMass Donahue Institute recommends some alternative funding options to help cover the predicted budget shortfall. Some ideas include raising the sales tax on gasoline, applying a state tax to gasoline purchases, implementing a congestion price system for peak travel times, increasing highway tolls, raising fees on ride-sharing apps, a fee per vehicle miles traveled, and more. Regardless of the chosen mechanism, it sounds like taxpayers can expect to shell out more for state infrastructure in the coming years.
Commuters in the Boston area are well-aware of our state's shortcomings in transportation. Last year CNBC included Massachusetts as #9 on its list of the 10 states with the worst infrastructure.
(Image By Pi.1415926535 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32206164)