Charlton, Southbridge to receive $500,000 each; $100,000 in Webster

BOSTON — Several local communities are among the more than two dozen who will receive state funds for bridge projects.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced a new round of Municipal Small Bridge Program Grant Awards in which 27 communities will be receiving a total amount of $6.3 million. Nearly 20 percent of those funds will be received by communities in southern Worcester County. Charlton and Southbridge will each receive $500,000 for design/construction of bridge replacement projects, while Webster will receiver $100,000 for design/preservation of a bridge preservation project. Other communities in the general area receiving funds include $100,000 awards for preservation in Paxton and Sutton.

The program is a need and merit-based program that seeks to fund those applications that demonstrate a critical need or substantially extend the life of an existing small bridge.  According to MassDOT, projects are evaluated according to a strict set of eligibility criteria that consider the condition, benefits, and repair status of each bridge.

“Our administration is pleased make available this funding that can be used by cities and towns to preserve and repair smaller bridges within their communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker in a press release. “Since our administration began the Municipal Small Bridge Program close to $50 million has been awarded in funding to municipalities to ensure that their locally-owned transportation assets are safe and reliable.”

“This program has helped facilitate the development of 121 small bridge projects across the Commonwealth that due to their size would be deemed ineligible for federal funding,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased to work with cities and towns to address their infrastructure needs and support local economies.”

The Municipal Small Bridge Program, signed into law on August 10, 2016, by Governor Baker, is a several-year $50 million program to aid in the replacement and preservation of municipally-owned small bridges which are not eligible for federal aid under existing bridge replacement or rehabilitation programs.  An increasing number of them are at high risk for full or partial closure in the near future due to their present conditions.

“The Baker-Polito Administration continues to support cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth in their efforts to make improvements to locally-owned transportation infrastructure,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack.  “This program facilitates key safety upgrades and repairs to bridges which connect communities and people.”

“We appreciate the support of the Baker/Polito administration, as well as the state and local elected officials who have assisted with the development of the Municipal Small Bridge Program,” said Highway Division Administrator Jonathan Gulliver “We are pleased to award $6.3 million in funding to these communities in order to improve these bridges and ensure they allow for effective and safe travel for years to come.”

The program assists cities and towns with replacing or preserving bridges with spans between 10 feet and 20 feet. These small bridges are not eligible for federal aid under existing federal funding programs.  Each municipality may qualify for up to $500,000 per year. This program that provides financial support to cities and towns for small bridge replacement, preservation and rehabilitation projects.

This grant round with exhaust the 5-year $50,000,000 budget for this program. Until new bond authorization becomes available, no new grant funding rounds will be announced. MassDOT will use the small amount of current authorization remaining to be able to fund emergency small bridge replacement and repair requests, in line with program objectives. 

The previous round of grants awarded over $5.2 million to 12 communities to aid in the replacement or preservation of municipally-owned small bridges which were not eligible for federal aid under existing programs and were at high risk for full or partial closure in the near future if repairs are not made.

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