Category Archives: Transportation

Trails healthy for kids

This article comes for the email I get from http://efficientgov.com   I like the idea of connecting parts of town to the downtown via trails.  The  Bay Colony Rail Trail could help to link the neighborhoods along the North Street, Colonial Road, Blacksmith Drive, Surrey Lane areas out to Harding Street, where the connection to the downtown could be made via another trail and/or a sidewalk into town.
nature trail

STUDY: Access To Trails Reduces Youth Obesity

What Happened?
A recent study found municipalities with more non-motorized nature trails and forest lands reported higher levels of youth activity and lower childhood obesity rates. Interestingly, counties with more nature preserves had lower activity levels – underscoring the importance of investing in the right type of public green space to improve public health.

Goal
According to researchers from the University of Missouri and the University of Minnesota, adding non-motorized trails to municipalities, and creating easy access for local youth, directly increased physical activity rates and lowered obesity rates. Conversely, counties with more nature preserves showed decreased levels of youth physical activity, while parklands showed no impact one way or the other.

The study compared youth activity and obesity rates in all Minnesota counties to the amount of public non-motorized nature trails, motorized nature trails, nature preserves, parklands and forest land. The study revealed:

  • Non-motorized nature trails: Increased activity, lowered obesity
  • Nature preserves: Decreased activity
  • Public forest land: Increased activity rates
  • Parklands: No impact

The researchers concluded that non-motorized nature trails are designed with outdoor exercise in mind and encourage physical activity, while nature preserves typically attract sightseers observing and appreciating the green space.

The researchers recommend municipalities evaluate their outdoor recreational spaces to ensure the resources are encouraging physical activity as well as diversifying the landscape. Specific trail designs, for example, are used for walking, running or biking and can have a direct impact on residential activity levels.

Funding Trails
There are a variety of ways municipalities are paying for the construction of trails and greenways that connect residents to outdoor recreational space. The federal government offers grants through its Transportation Alternatives program which includes the Transportation Enhancements funds and Safe Routes to School funds. Projects eligible for the funding include converting abandoned railways into non-motorized trails and planning projects for adding off-road trails. Localities can also add trails to and from schools making it safer for pedestrians to navigate neighborhoods away from cars.

Furthermore, municipalities can apply for funding through the Recreational Trails Program which supports projects to develop and maintain recreational trails and facilities for motorized and non-motorized pathways. The program focuses on initiatives that encourage and enable a variety of trail activities and uses such as:

  • Hiking
  • Bicycling
  • Skating
  • Equestrian use
  • Cross-country skiing

Each state has a trail administrator that must assess the project to determine if it qualifies for funding by meeting specific criteria:

  • Maintenance or restoration of existing trails
  • Development or rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and linkages
  • Acquisition of necessary easements
  • Administrative costs
  • Trail education programs

At least 30 percent of all Recreational Trails Program funds are set aside for non-motorized trails. States are able to opt out of Recreational Trails Program funding, and allocate the money toward other transit projects. Therefore, it is imperative for municipalities to continue to push for trail funding.

Other federal funding opportunities for trail projects through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration include the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program and the Federal Lands and Tribal Transportation Program.

Perks of Trails
EfficientGov has reported on several trail projects funded by federal grants, many of which offer an economic benefit as well as health perks.

MMA on Transportation bill

This today from the Massachusetts Municipal Association -

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TRANSPORTATION CONFERENCE COMMITTEE AGREES ON $300 MILLION FOR CHAPTER 90 IN FISCAL 2015

House & Senate to Vote on Transportation Conference Committee Report this Week

Ch. 90 Funds Should be Available Immediately After the Bill is Signed into Law

Early last night, the House-Senate conference committee reached agreement on the final version of the Legislature’s statewide transportation bond bill, and filed the compromise measure with the House Clerk. This sets up a final vote to approve the bill and send it to the Governor’s Desk this week. The House plans a vote on Wednesday, April 16, and the Senate plans a vote the next day. After that, the Governor will have 10 days to sign the bill.

Lawmakers have stated that they have written the final bill to include the so-called “terms bill” language that has usually passed as separate legislation after the Governor signs the bond bill. This is intended to eliminate the long delay between enactment of the bond bill and the official release of Chapter 90 and other transportation funds. Absent unforeseen developments, this means that the fiscal 2015 provisional Chapter 90 authorization letters will become official once the Governor signs the bond bill into law.

The sweeping 5-year $13 billion bond bill includes a $300 million Chapter 90 authorization for fiscal year 2015, matching the fiscal 2014 authorization passed last summer. In spite of the higher authorization from the Legislature, the Patrick Administration has already announced that they plan on releasing just $200 million. On April 1st, MassDOT sent provisional letters of authorization to cities and towns announcing that they plan on officially releasing $200 million after the passage of the transportation bond bill.

The release of the full $300 million Chapter 90 authorization continues to be a major issue of contention between the Legislature and the Governor, with lawmakers siding with local officials in support of releasing the full amount. The House chair of the transportation committee stated this week that the Legislature will continue to support $300 million for Chapter 90, and that the authorization would stay in place so that the current Administration or the new Governor in January could act to release the full amount.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in the House and Senate had each approved different versions of the statewide transportation bond bill that includes future funding for the vital Chapter 90 program for the maintenance and repair of local roads. The Senate bill included a $1.5 billion Chapter 90 authorization intended to provide $300 million in annual funding over the next five years, from fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2019. The House bill provided only one year of funding at $300 million for fiscal 2015. Language in the Senate bill included several new rules governing the use of Chapter 90 funds that would have reduced local flexibility to address municipal needs by imposing unnecessary and overreaching new reporting and accounting requirements. The House did not include this language.

The final compromise bill ironed out by the House and Senate conferees settled on the House’s one-year Chapter 90 authorization at $300 million, and softened the restrictions proposed by the Senate. The final bill states that a community will only be able to carry forward more than 50 percent of the allocated Chapter 90 authorization from one year to the next if the city or town submits a 5-year spending outline to MassDOT. Also, the bill includes language requiring MassDOT to provide “preliminary notice” of the Chapter 90 authorizations by March 1 of each year. This is a change from past practice in previous Chapter 90 bond bills, which included language requiring cities and towns to receive official notice of their Chapter 90 authorizations by April 1 of each year.

Clearly, municipal leaders have succeeded in convincing Representatives and Senators of the need to increase Chapter 90 funding to $300 million a year – that is a significant victory. Winning release of the full $300 million will continue to be a top priority for the MMA, and we will not cease until all of the funds flow directly to cities and towns. In addition, we will continue to monitor the state’s administration of the Chapter 90 program to secure timely notification and release of the funds to maximize planning and make full use of the construction season, and oppose any state rules to restrict local flexibility.

The MMA is continuing to analyze the details of the sweeping transportation bond bill, so please check the MMA website at www.mma.org for more information. Thank You.

 

Chap. 90 monies may get funded

This courtesy of Statehouse News Service, by way of John Nunnari -

DEAL REACHED ON MULTI-YEAR $13B TRANSPO BOND BILL:
House and Senate negotiators reached a deal Monday afternoon on a $13 billion transportation borrowing bill that includes a one-year $300 million authorization for local road repairs in fiscal 2015 and funding for the Green Line extension, South Coast rail, the expansion of South Station and scores of other local projects. The House, which plans to meet on Tuesday in an informal session, could accept the report of the conference committee ( H 4046) and schedule a vote to engross the bond bill for Wednesday. The Senate could take it up as soon as Thursday when it plans to meet in a formal session. The compromise bill was negotiated by Transportation Committee Chairmen Rep. William Straus and Sen. Thomas McGee, Reps. Stephen Kulik and Peter Durant, and Sens. Stephen Brewer and Robert Hedlund. Straus told the New Service that despite cities and towns being informed by the Patrick administration to only expect $200 million in Chapter 90 road money this year, he’s hopeful the full amount will be eventually authorized. The conferees opted against a five-year Chapter 90 authorization as proposed in the Senate version of the bill. “We’ve authorized $300 million because we believe that’s a reasonable level and it did not escape our attention that Deval Patrick will only be governor for half of the next fiscal year. It may be that the next governor is inclined to make full use of the $300 million authorization,” Straus said. The bill also includes language to preserve the “right of way” and spend up to $2 million to update environmental impact documents related to a potential underground rail link between North and South stations. In addition to authorizing the purchase of new Red and Orange Line cars, Straus said the conference report also calls for those T cars to be assembled in Massachusetts and requires the potential for job creation to be considered when choosing a location where the work will be done. The bill would also earmark $65 million for the dredging of Boston Harbor to increase the depth of the port and make it more accommodating to large cargo ships. “There’s a lot of competition with East Coast cities and to get Boston harbor to a good 40 foot depth is important,” Straus said. To view the full conference report, visit: http://www.statehousenews.com/docs/2014/04-14_TranspoBondBill.pdf – M. Murphy/SHNS

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA

MMA asks for long term bond bill for roads

This Alert this afternoon from the Massachusetts Municipal Association -

October 22, 2013

PLEASE CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY AND ASK THEM TO PASS A LONG-TERM CHAPTER 90 BOND BILL BY NOV. 20

Cities And Towns Need A Multi-Year Ch. 90 Bill Now; Without a Long-Term Bill in Place, Next Year’s Authorization Could be Delayed Again

Even as the MMA and local officials across the state call on the Governor to release the full $300 million in Chapter 90 funds that the Legislature has authorized for fiscal year 2014, it is important to push for swift action to approve a multi-year bond bill to guarantee that Chapter 90 funds will flow on time for fiscal year 2015 and beyond.

Local officials across the state applaud the Legislature’s action to authorize $300 million for Chapter 90 during the current fiscal year.  We are extremely disappointed in the Administration’s unwise decision to withhold $100 million from cities and towns – the Legislature voted to fund Chapter 90 by a unanimous vote, and provided a broad tax and revenue package to significantly increase transportation investments, and communities are dismayed that the Administration is unilaterally deciding to deny Chapter 90 even one penny of the additional revenues, let alone the full amount embraced by local officials and every lawmaker in the state.

The MMA and local officials will continue to call on the Governor to release the full amount of Chapter 90 funding that is due cities and towns.  The good news is that the Legislature’s authorization will remain on the books, which means that this Administration, or any future Administration, can decide to release the $100 million at any point.

In the meantime, we are also looking beyond the fiscal 2014 authorization, to the passage of a multi-year Chapter 90 bond bill to enable cities and towns to plan for the future.  The passage of a bond bill (and the companion “terms” bill) requires a long journey along a very time-consuming pathway.  This lengthy process, coupled with the debate over the transportation finance bill, resulted in the Governor delaying release of final Chapter 90 allocation letters until July 30, rather than the customary and statutory date of April 1.  Provisional and contingent letters were sent in April and May, but these did not provide cities and towns with legal authorization to enter into road construction contracts or to start work.  Missing the April 1 deadline shortens the construction season and delays important projects in every part of the state.

In order to avoid another frustrating and costly delay in the start of local road projects for fiscal 2015 and beyond, please call your Representatives and Senators today and ask them to enact a multi-year, $300 million-a-year Chapter 90 bond bill as soon as possible before the end of the 2013 session on November 20.  It is important for the Legislature to enact a new Chapter 90 authorization before the end of formal legislative sessions on November 20.  Otherwise, using history as a guide, the fiscal 2015 authorization would likely be delayed again, and miss the April 1 notification date.  Please ask your legislators to commit to passing a 5-year Chapter 90 bond bill that provides $300 million annually, indexed for inflation.

We need the Legislature to pass a long-term Chapter 90 bond bill today so that funds will flow to cities and towns without delay next spring!

 

Please click here to download a copy of the MMA’s letter to the Legislature calling for passage of a $300-million-a-year, multi-year Chapter 90 bond bill before the Legislature adjourns on November 20.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS TODAY AND ASK THEM TO PASS A MULTI-YEAR CHAPTER 90 BOND BILL BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS ON NOV. 20

Thank You Very Much.

MMA on Gov’s transportation plan

Alert from the Massachusetts Municipal Association just now -

===============

-January 14, 2013

Gov. Patrick Proposes $13B Transportation Investment Plan

Chapter 90 Would Grow to $300M a Year, a 50% Increase

Other Major Investments Would Benefit Cities and Towns

Governor Deval Patrick and Transportation Secretary Richard Davey today provided the details of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s long-awaited comprehensive transportation investment plan for Massachusetts.  Speaking before a large crowd at a special event at UMass Boston, the Governor called for $13 billion in transportation investments over the next 10 years as an essential strategy to spur economic growth and create a “21st Century Transportation Plan” for the Commonwealth.

Click here to download a summary of the Governor’s plan

Click here to download the Governor’s plan

Click here to view the Governor’s press release

A key element of the Governor’s transportation investment plan is adoption of the MMA’s call to increase Chapter 90 funding for cities and towns by $100 million a year for the next 10 years, adding $1 billion for local roads over the coming decade.  The current $200 million allotted to Chapter 90 would increase to $300 million beginning in fiscal year 2014, with the Administration suggesting that a portion of the first-year increase be targeted for a new asset management system at the local level.  The MMA is gathering information on the asset management aspect of the proposal, and will report on that when details are available.

In addition to the annual $100 million increase for Chapter 90, the Governor’s plan also calls for impressive increases for other transportation programs and projects for cities and towns over the next 10 years, including: $1.1 billion more for regional transit authorities; $1.175 billion for a new bridge repair program modeled after the nearly complete $3 billion accelerated bridge program initiated several years ago; $1.25 billion for a “multi-modal highway program” targeted for hundreds of local and regional projects to decrease congestion; $430 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects; and hundreds of millions for system and facility improvements.

Today’s announcement was designed to establish the Governor’s transportation vision for Massachusetts.  The comprehensive “21st Century Transportation Plan” unveiled by the Governor articulates the current funding shortfall to meet today’s programs, and the additional investment that is necessary to modernize and enhance our highway, transit and multi-model transportation system over the next 10 years.  The plan did not embrace any revenue options or propose any specific tax initiatives.  The Governor said that he would outline his tax proposals in his State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday, January 16, and in his fiscal 2014 budget plan when he submits it to the Legislature on Wednesday, January 23.

The Governor’s transportation plan would require new tax revenues of $1.02 billion a year to fund the investments he is calling for.

Governor Patrick will be at the opening session of the MMA’s Annual Meeting and Trade Show on Friday, Jan. 25th, and he is expected to discuss his transportation and budget plans at that time.  Secretary Davey will appear at the Annual Meeting on Saturday, Jan. 26 at a special forum on transportation investment and funding.  If you have not yet registered for the MMA Annual Meeting, you can do so by visiting the MMA website at www.mma.org.

Increasing Chapter 90 to $300 million a year is a top MMA priority, and would represent a 50% increase for cities and towns across the state.  Please contact your legislators today and tell them that the Chapter 90 increase is essential, and please let them know that you recognize that a revenue increase will be necessary in order to adequately maintain and enhance the local and state transportation system.

Road stories

Interesting and long discussion with Mike Sullivan yesterday afternoon, when I called to see what the Board of Selectmen was going to do about having missed our meeting on the first Tuesday of January – we will probably add a meeting on at the end of the month, given our need to review budgets.

I also suggested that we have department heads plan to give the Board of Selectmen and the town seminars and/or reports on topics of interest, such as (1) proper staffing levels for town departments, and (2) how to maintain the roads for the longest time at the least cost.  The Massachusetts Municipal Association recently prodded the legislature to spend more on Chap. 90 highway maintenance by pointing out that something like each dollar spent on maintenance postpones five dollars of repairs and/or replacements of roads.  I thought the town would like to know why we grind down and patch sections of roads and use stone seal, versus just re-paving.

That lead to discussions of Rte. 109 and 27 being state numbered roads, but not actually state highways.  The distinction is that we own the cost to repair them.  Rte. 27 is the super wide drag strip that it is on the North side of town because of former highway superintendent, Billy McCarthy, who liked wide roads and convinced the state to pay to build it that way.  Mike thought it may have been an early iteration (before I-495) of plans for an outer circumferential highway.

North Street by the Memorial School is as wide as it is because Billy McCarthy liked to have wide rights of ways.  Up further, the North Street right of way goes behind the houses on the railroad side of North Street up where Farm Street takes off, because years ago a property owner in the area named Cheney objected to the Norfolk Hunt Club riding over his land.  Next thing he knew, a right of way for North Street was taken by the state across the Cheney (and all of his neighbors’) land, and the Norfolk Hunt Club was then connected to its fields at what is called the racecourse.  The racecourse land is the old Medfield Golf Course.

Governor Sargent, a Dover resident, had a main Dover street coming in from Chestnut Street in Needham declared a state roadway, thus making the state liable for all the repairs.  However, Mike says that it was eventually de-listed by the state, and now Dover is again responsible.

Mike is giving his annual seminar on municipal budgeting to the Warrant Committee this coming Saturday morning, starting at 8 AM.

Water & DPW issues

Water Tower Issues

I had a long talk this afternoon with Mike Sullivan and Ken Feeney about several issues, including the coliform bacteria in the water tower at the former Medfield State Hospital site.  The water tower at the MSH site is lower than the Mt. Nebo water tower by about 16′, and per Ken as a result the water at the MSH site just does not circulate enough and sat it the water tower and baked during the hot weather this summer.

This elevation difference causes such problems that when I asked about doing maintenance on the MSH water tower at a recent meeting of the Water & Sewer Board, I was told that it is not worth spending the money on it, as it really needs to be replaced with one that is at the proper height.

Ken related that earlier this summer they had shocked the MSH water tower by dumping a lot of chlorine into it from the top, but where that had not solved the problem, they have now decided to drain the tank and clean it.  The water tower has been disconnected from the Town of Medfield’s water supply.  The water in the tank will be sold to the contractor who is tearing down the Clark Building at the Medfield State Hospital, as they will need water to wet down the Clark Building during its demolition.

Once the MSH water tower has been cleaned, Ken was not sure if he would re-connect it back onto the Medfield water system or not.  He said he may just keep water in it for fire suppression reasons, but keep it disconnected.

North Street Pavement Repairs

Ken has asked the contractor for the Columbia Gas company to repair the trenching they did on North Street, before they start new trenching work in town.  That contractor opined to Ken that the ruts in Rte 109 may have been caused by Mass Highway using the wrong mix in the top surface paving coat when that road was redone several years ago.  The cement trucks cause lots of wear, and the ruts are almost a tripping hazard now.

North Street Water Main Replacement

The old cast iron water mains under North Street will be replaced next summer, as a prelude to the redoing of North and Green Streets the following year.  Mass Highway warned the town to do that replacement ahead to avoid them breaking, and to allow time for the ground to conpact before the final work is done.

Stone Seal on North Side

Ken says tehre will be lots of stone sealing done on the North side of town done in August.  Harding street is currently getting grinding and rematching repairs done, which Ken opined wear much better than other forms of repairs.