Act would invest $850 million in MA transportation system; fully fund $285 million Weymouth Fore River Bridge replacement

WEYMOUTH – Thursday, September 22, 2011 - Governor Deval Patrick today called on Congress to pass President Obama’s American Jobs Act as he visited the nine-year-old temporary Weymouth Fore River Bridge connecting the cities of Quincy and Weymouth.

The President’s plan includes more than $850 million for Massachusetts’ highway and transit modernization projects. With additional federal funds available to build a new Fore River Bridge and replace others across the state, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) could replace an additional 19 structurally deficient bridges, reducing the current backlog.

“There are projects like this one and workers ready to do them all over Massachusetts,” said Governor Patrick. “President Obama's plan will make a difference for our people and our economy, and I call on Congress to pass the American Jobs Act bill quickly.”

As part of the Governor’s Accelerated Bridge Program, MassDOT officials are planning to build a permanent replacement bridge that would begin construction next year. Currently, the state is expected to pay 20 percent of the project cost. Under the President’s bill, the project would be entirely federally-funded, freeing up state funds to invest in other structurally deficient bridges.

When we rebuild our roads and bridges, we rebuild our economy. Of the 5,113 bridges in Massachusetts, 50 percent are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The American Jobs Act will provide additional infrastructure funding that can put Massachusetts residents to work in good, family-wage paying jobs, while improving our crumbling infrastructure," said Congressman Edward J. Markey, dean of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation.

President Obama’s Jobs Act includes $50 billion in immediate investments for highways, transit, rail and aviation, helping to modernize an infrastructure that now receives a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job. Of the investments for highway and transit modernization projects, the President’s plan will make immediate investments of at least $850,700,000 in Massachusetts that could support more than 11,100 local jobs.

Built in 1936, the original Fore River Bridge was demolished in 2004 after it was found years earlier to have significantly deteriorated. A temporary bridge was erected to keep traffic moving along Route 3A.

Today, that temporary bridge is nearing the end of its intended lifespan and is in need of constant maintenance to remain open. This bridge is one of the primary connections between Quincy and Weymouth and carries more than 36,000 vehicles per day, and lies over a U.S. Coast Guard regulated navigable channel leading to a designated port area.

“The Patrick-Murray Administration has made significant investments in our roads and bridges, creating thousands of jobs, ensuring public safety and encouraging economic development across the Commonwealth,” said Transportation Secretary Richard Davey. “The federal government is a vital partner in continuing this kind of investment, and I encourage Congress to act swiftly to approve the President’s bill to keep our road and bridge program going.”

"The Fore River Bridge is essential to the daily lives of everyone who lives and works in this corridor, and has been in desperate need of a permanent replacement that we can rely on over the long-term. The federal money that has allowed the Governor to include the project in his Accelerated Bridge Program is crucial to making this possible," said House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano. "Over the last two years we have had countless meetings with the public and community leaders to focus on building a bridge that will reduce the number of openings needed, ease traffic, be aesthetically pleasing to the surrounding neighborhoods, and provide a safe and reliable structure for the long-term.  This project will put hundreds of people back to work in good construction jobs, and will improve our community in the process."

"All steps must be taken to build a bridge that is both aesthetically pleasing and effectively functional in relation to its location," said Representative James Murphy. "By combining funds from the Commonwealth's Accelerated Bridge Program and the Federal Jobs Investment Act, we can ensure that the Fore River Bridge will be built on an expedited time table. This new bridge will continue to serve as the gateway to the South Shore’s coastal communities for many years to come. I want to thank Governor Patrick for putting the Fore River Bridge project at the top of the state's list for construction."

“The Fore River Bridge is a vital gateway to Quincy and the entire South Shore region, and its reconstruction is precisely the kind of infrastructure investment we need to keep cities across the Commonwealth moving forward,” said Quincy Mayor Thomas P. Koch.  “Governor Patrick has been an outspoken national leader on the importance of rebuilding our roads and bridges, and I am truly grateful for his work and the work of our entire Beacon Hill delegation in bringing these critical projects to reality.”

The Fore River Bridge Replacement is one of the projects included in the Patrick-Murray Administration’s Accelerated Bridge Program aimed at reducing the backlog of deficient bridges across the Commonwealth.