Bridges are a priority as Baker outlines plans for $9.5 billion in federal infrastructure aid

The Sagamore Bridge in Bourne, MA on Cape Cod. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
The Sagamore Bridge in Bourne, MA on Cape Cod. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Rourke Bridge in Lowell was built as a temporary structure in 1983 and has remained that way for nearly four decades.

That's about to change.

The two-lane connection is one of several projects state officials included in its plan to spend $9.5 billion of federal infrastructure funds over the next five years.

Speaking in Lowell on Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker said work on some projects could begin as early as late spring.

“This really is a once in a generation opportunity and we here in Massachusetts need to do everything we can to take full advantage of it,” Baker said.

The state plans to use $5.4 billion for road projects, with $1.1 billion of that set aside for bridges.

The federal funds will be used in conjunction with money from the state’s Next Generation Bridge Program, leading to a proposed $3 billion investment in bridges.

The federal infrastructure law also allows states to compete for a piece of $110 billion in additional funds.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said MassDOT will provide another $95 million for local bridges through the Municipal Small Bridge Program.

Last year, the American Society of Engineers reported that 9% of the state's 5,233 bridges were structurally deficient in 2019, and 25% of the roads were in poor condition.

“Every bridge is a connection point,” said Polito. “Whether it's for jobs and expanding your local economy or for emergency vehicles to get from A to B quickly and efficiently.”

The MBTA will receive $2.2 billion under the plan, including investments for electrifying the bus system, dedicated bus lanes, station accessibility and commuter rail upgrades to help the T reduce its carbon footprint.

About $591 million will be set aside for the commonwealth’s 15 regional transit authorities.

The roughly $1.4 billion for environmental projects will help repair the state’s drainage system, water and soil decontamination and energy programs.

Headshot of Darryl C. Murphy

Darryl C. Murphy Host
Darryl C. Murphy is the host of WBUR's daily news and culture podcast, "The Common."



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