SPRINGFIELD — As voters weigh a new wealth tax to finance education and transportation initiatives, Massachusetts is poised to receive $1.1 billion in new federal bridge repair money over the next five years.
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, announced the money estimate Tuesday, crediting the work of Congress and President Joe Biden to pass a landmark infrastructure funding law. The money will be allocated under a Federal Highway Administration formula and can be used to address 472 bridges listed in poor condition in Massachusetts.
“Modernized and improved bridges statewide will provide safety for all users, and create good-paying jobs for workers,” Neal said in a prepared statement. “Bridges are vital pieces of our infrastructure — not only to our daily commutes, but also to emergency vehicles and the trucks that are making deliveries in our communities. I am grateful to the Biden Administration for making this promise that will be the catalyst for significant investment here in western and central Massachusetts a reality.”
States normally must match federal money with up to 20 percent state or local money, but guidance issued last week signals that federal money can be used for 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating “locally owned off-system bridges,” according to Neal’s office.
Neal joined Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno on Tuesday to make the announcement at an Armory Street site in that city where planners hope to replace two bridges.
Supporters of a constitutional amendment adding a 4 percent surtax on household income above $1 million a year say it will make the wealthy pay their “fair share” and raise money to address education and transportation deficiencies.
Opponents say state government already is awash in billions of dollars in surplus revenues, the tax will drive away some wealthy taxpayers, and they warn that lawmakers can deploy work-arounds to ensure that not all the new revenue is invested in education and transportation.