Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Road subsidies across Massachusetts

I downloaded a spreadsheet containing the FY2012 allotments for the Chapter 90 program:
The Funds provided from Transportation Bond Issues authorizes such Capital Improvement Projects for Highway Construction, Preservation and Improvement Projects that create or extend the life of Capital Facilities
The total allotment divided up among the cities and towns of Massachusetts for FY2012 adds up to approximately $200 million. I then calculated the amount of Chapter 90 state aide was being allocated to each city/town per capita, using the Census 2010 population figures. Here is a map showing how that aide was distributed, with darker green areas indicating more money per person, and lighter green areas indicating less money per person.

Some selected numbers:

Top 5:
Monroe $560.77
Hawley $538.92
Mount Washington $429.08
Rowe $375.69
Sandisfield $365.62
Bottom 5:
Somerville $14.78
Revere $15.31
Everett $15.64
Malden $15.76
Winthrop $16.04

Notably, Somerville receives the least state aide for roads, per capita, of any city or town in Massachusetts. Many parts of western Massachusetts, by comparison, get an order of magnitude more aide per capita than Somerville. What explains this discrepancy? Well, actually, it's not much of a mystery:
Factors: Source:
Road miles - 58.33% EOT&PW
Population - 20.83% Mass DOR
Employment - 20.83% Mass DET

  • This formula was developed by the Legislative Rural Caucus of the Transportation Committee.
  • Mileage factor represents city/town accepted road miles.
  • Employment factor represents employment within the town borders.

In other words, the money handed out to build new and maintain existing roads is determined largely by the length of existing roads. The metric "accepted road miles" is the same as "centerline miles" in other Massachusetts documents. "Centerline miles" are as they sound: measure of a single line followed down a road. So, a 1-mile long country road is equivalent in "centerline miles" to a 1-mile six lane arterial stretch. The result is that the Chapter 90 formula promotes the construction of new roadways by increasing the subsidy rewarded to municipalities that increase their "accepted centerline miles." That this formula was designed by the "Legislative Rural Caucus" and disproportionately benefits western Massachusetts is likely no accident either.

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I think Somerville has too many roads. Not only does I-93 cut us off from Sullivan Station, but to get to the grocery store I have to cross Broadway and McGrath Highway -- and there's only one skywalk over McGrath.


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