Commuters Beware: 640 Bridges are Structurally Deficient in Massachusetts

New Report Shows Transportation Investment Key to Improving Mass. Economy, Equity, and Environment
For Immediate Release: March 29, 2022

BOSTON, MA – It’s often said that transportation is the great equalizer. Unfortunately, chronic disinvestment in Massachusetts transportation has contributed to widespread problems such as some of the worst traffic in the nation and hundreds of bridges in disrepair. The Three E’s: Additional Transportation Funding Can Improve the Economy, Equity, and the Environment, a new report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), outlines the ways Massachusetts’ transportation system is failing and the ways that more significant investment can improve the economy and equity among state residents, and the environment.

In Massachusetts, rural and urban transportation systems suffer from long-term problems that continue to hold back the economy, reduce quality of life, increase racial inequity, and contribute to climate change. The report brings together a wealth of studies and shows:
  • 640 bridges are structurally deficient, according to the state’s most comprehensive database;
  • Massachusetts’ transportation systems rank 47th in the nation for commute times, with Greater Boston having the worst traffic congestion in the nation;
  • Drivers in the region lost an average of 149 hours of their lives to traffic in 2019, costing $2,205 per driver in lost time;
  • Residents of color are disproportionately impacted, with commute times for Black and Asian transit users 10 percent longer than those of white transit users on average; and
  • Transportation is also the largest and fastest-growing source of climate emissions in the state, accounting for 42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.
Addressing these problems requires major investments sustained each year in our transportation systems, but there is currently no plan to achieve this long-term funding. “Behind these statistics are the many families, students, and business owners who are harmed by the poor state of transportation and the inability to seize opportunities to improve it,” says Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst and Advocacy Director at MassBudget and author of the report. “Neglecting transportation is not just causing folks to be late to work, it’s also deeply affecting entire communities.”

Better transportation contributes to economic growth by reducing the time required for goods and people to travel and increasing safety and reliability. It connects people to job opportunities that lift them out of unemployment and poverty while simultaneously minimizing traffic congestion and pollution. The report synthesizes analysis from government and business leaders showing large shortfalls in the Commonwealth’s resources to meet basic goals.

Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity to approve the Fair Share Amendment this November. If passed, this ballot question would provide billions in funding dedicated to transportation and education, giving authorities the ability to implement vital improvements to the economy, equity, and environment.

“The Governor is proposing bonds that could finance some improvements,” notes Baxandall. “That likely will be a tool, but we’ll still need additional revenue each year to pay off that borrowing. Massachusetts yearns for better transportation, and we won’t get what we don’t find a way to pay for.”

Key staff related to this initiative are available for additional questions or comments upon request. Read the full report here.
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Contact:
Reginauld Williams, Communications Director
617-426-1228 x102, rwilliams@massbudget.org

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