Special to the Record
To hear Representative Eugene O’Flaherty talk about it, State funding for local roadway projects is always a hot topic for debate at the State House. While he was joined by Senator Sal DiDomenico and City officials last week to view another project funded with Chapter 90 roadway funds from the State, O’Flaherty said he believes the State can never do enough when it comes to providing for local infrastructure.
“It’s a top priority for me and many of my colleagues,” explained O’Flaherty. “We know that getting Chapter 90 funding to Chelsea and other communities can be the difference between a roadway project being undertaken, or else it’s another year of dodging potholes for motorists and cracks in the sidewalk for pedestrians. Given that local budgets are strapped and simple roadway projects are so expensive to fund locally, I’m pleased and proud this funding source has survived that cuts that have befallen many other State programs.”
Sen. DiDomenico reports that $710,000 is being earmarked for Chelsea roadway projects this year.
“That’s a pretty significant amount that should allow for a handful of locally important projects to be done. It’s for that very reason that Chapter 90 will always be a priority of mine as well,” stressed DiDomenico.
City Manager Jay Ash confirmed that four projects were being financed through the State’s annual Chapter 90 allotment.
“We’re doing portions of Chester Avenue, Marlboro Street and Spencer Avenue, as well as a single project on County Road, Bassett Street and Reynolds Avenue. The State funding to support these projects is critical. Without the State funding, water and sewer ratepayers would have paid for the County Road project, meaning higher water rates. None of the other projects would have gone forward this year,” confirmed Ash.
Surveying the work done on Chester Avenue, Council President Leo Robinson described the pounding his car took when he drove home while living there several years ago.
“At times it seemed like a mine field, where you needed to dodge one problem after the other. As much as we’d try to patch the potholes, the rain and freeze would eventually win out again. This roadway, in fact all of the roads and sidewalks being done were priorities for my colleagues and me. We’re all grateful that our legislators continue to champion such critical municipal support,” stated Robinson.
Although she was unable to attend the inspection of Chester Avenue, Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein said that she knew full well that the State funding was being put to good use.
“There’s nothing like a new street and new sidewalks to give an old neighborhood a new life. That’s what Chapter 90 is about and that’s why I’ll continue to defend it as a great expenditure of our State revenues,” pledged Reinstein.
Although Chapter 90 was left intact in this year’s budget, there have been times over the State’s fiscal crisis when the same could not be said.
“It’s one of the last places we should look to trim,” proffered O’Flaherty, “because it’s one of the most tangible and appreciated expenditures we make.”
Ash, upon being informed of the Chelsea delegation’s pledge to continue to deliver future funding, noted that many other neighborhoods would benefit from future Chapter 90 work.
“We have many other streets that need resurfacing and sidewalks to be repaired. Being able to count on future funding means we can start planning for improvements now, so that we’ll be ready to be in the ground next year on another round of neighborhood improvements,” commented Ash.
Although he was unsure as to which streets those would be, he said he was busy putting together the next CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) for the City, which will be filed with the Council in early 2011.
“We’ve got major roadway projects and minor ones to try to figure out how to fund. Chapter 90 will be part of the funding strategy, so our construction efforts can go a bit farther next year,” Ash concluded.