Gentlemen, start your funding

It looks like we’re mere months away from seeing the first local signs of the massive federal economic stimulus bill.

According to a post that we missed on Friday on the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Plan blog (They have a blog? This here blogging thing is really catching on!), the government has released about $153.2 million for “shovel-ready” projects to be bid out within the next 120 days.

Governor Patrick today announced the federal government has given Massachusetts the authority to spend $437.9 million on transportation projects through federal highway funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Of that funding, approximately $153.2 million will be committed to “shovel-ready” projects advertised for bid within the next 120 days.

Federal officials have also announced an additional $319 million in recovery funds will go toward Regional Transit Authorities and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. In addition to the total transportation funding, Massachusetts is in line to receive anywhere between $6-$9 billion over two years for education, health care, public safety, housing and other critical programs.

That $319 million for regional transit and the MBTA will be the most interesting money to follow; there are some lofty hopes for improvements in those arenas, and a lot of potential projects that could use the cash.

Senator Harriette Chandler, Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Federal Stimulus Oversight, says that while the process of fund release is still being worked out, the money will help Central Massachusetts.

“I hope it’s going to be roads and bridges…and hope it’s going to make a difference in a lot of things.”

“In Central Mass, we’re a little ahead of the game…getting our shovel-ready projects, ready.”

One of the benefits, says Chandler, will be that “it releases money that would have gone to those projects for other things.”

In related news Chandler, also Vice-Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, will host a hearing this Friday at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy at 10am on transportation and environment & energy.  The FY2010 transportation budget will be among the issues on the table.

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