The Baker administration Thursday began to outline how Massachusetts will spend an estimated $9.5 billion in federal infrastructure funds over the next five years, a cash infusion that could improve the roads and transit systems millions of people use to move around.
Bridge replacements, transit vehicle electrification, and new bus facilities are among the administration’s top priorities.
But how the influx of new funding will impact highly anticipated projects like connecting the MBTA’s Blue and Red Lines, East-West rail, and the redesign of the Mass Pike in Allston is still being determined based on guidance from the federal government, Governor Charlie Baker said Thursday.
“It’s going to happen in what I would describe as kind of a series of waves,” he said.
Signed into law by President Joe Biden in November, the federal infrastructure package is expected to deliver $9.5 billion — with billions more in additional grant funding available — to Massachusetts over the next five years to repair roads and bridges, improve public transportation, address climate resiliency, and make other changes to state infrastructure.
The state already receives millions of dollars of federal funding each year. The federal infrastructure law maintains those funding levels and adds to them.
At a news conference at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Thursday, Baker said his administration plans to advance a transportation bond bill in the coming weeks that will include matching funds for the new federal infrastructure money.
“We are going to figure out some way to take our . . . state capital dollars and some of the [federal COVID-19 relief] money that’s been appropriated by the Legislature to compound some of the opportunities that are associated with a lot of these resources,” Baker said. “There’s going to be a lot of money going to work for the people in Massachusetts.”
The Baker administration committed to use some of the federal funds meant for improving roads and bridges to replace the Rourke Bridge in Lowell, which was meant to be a temporary structure when it was built in 1983.
The funding will help advance the improvement and reconstruction of hundreds of roads and bridges, including the Maffa Way/Mystic Avenue Bridges in Boston and Broadway (Route 107) in Chelsea, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
The MBTA expects to receive more than half a billion dollars in new funding over the next five years. The agency plans to use the money on station and facility improvements, including new Green Line cars and 80 electric buses, new bus facilities and Red and Orange Line signals. Regional Transit Authorities across Massachusetts are also set to see an influx of cash that the Baker administration said will be spent on things like facility and vehicle upgrades.
The federal law provides Amtrak with $22 billion and puts $24 billion toward modernizing the Northeast Corridor, the governor’s office said. Citing ongoing negotiations between Amtrak and CSX, the Florida-based company that controls the rail right of way west of Worcester, Baker’s office said the state “intends to work with Amtrak to compete for funds to invest in service improvements between Springfield and Worcester as an initial step to expand service between Boston and Albany.”
Secretary of Transportation Jamey Tesler said his department has been working since last summer to prepare projects for the increased funding. The Baker administration’s fiscal year 2023 budget includes an increase in funding for MassDOT to beef up internal resources to accommodate the new federal infrastructure funds.
Baker said he anticipates people across Massachusetts will start to see the impact of the new funding on their roads and transit systems by this summer.
“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,” he said.