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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) oversees roads, public transit, aeronautics, and transportation licensing and registration in the US state of Massachusetts. It was created on November 1, 2009 by the 186th Session of the Massachusetts General Court upon enactment of the 2009 Transportation Reform Act.
In 2009, Governor Deval Patrick proposed merging all Massachusetts transportation agencies into a single Department of Transportation. Legislation consolidating all of Massachusetts' transportation agencies into one organization was signed into law on June 26, 2009. The newly established Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MASSDOT) assumed operations from the existing conglomeration of state transportation agencies on November 1, 2009.
Merger of the MBTA Board of Directors into the DOT Board of Directors.
Removal of the budget veto from the MBTA Advisory Board (of municipalities).
In June 2018, The Boston Globe reported 467 current and former Massachusetts Department of Transportation employees were using the E-ZPass transponders for free. This employee benefit that has been going on since at least 2009 costs the Massachusetts taxpayers approximately $1 million dollars per year. It is not clear if MassDOT has paid taxes on the benefit or reported it to the Internal Revenue Service, or who would be responsible if a payment to the IRS is required.
As an executive department, the Governor of Massachusetts appoints the state Secretary of Transportation, who is also the "Chief Executive Officer" of the Department. The governor also appoints a five-person Board of Directors which approves major decisions. The Department directly administers some operations, while others remain semi-autonomous.
The remaining 15 public transit authorities are called Regional Transit Agencies (RTAs), and they provide public bus services in the remainder of the state. The regional transit authorities are:
The regional transit authorities shown in italics above are within MBTA's commuter rail service area, and provide connections to MBTA trains.
DOT retains oversight and statewide planning authority, and also has a Rail section within the Mass Transit Division. Intercity passenger trains are operated by the federally owned Amtrak, and freight rail is privately operated.
The Aeronautics Division, formerly the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission, administers state financing of its airports; inspects and licenses airports and landing pads; registers aircraft based in Massachusetts as well as aircraft dealers, regulates airport security, safety, and navigation; and is responsible for statewide aviation planning. The Department of Transportation does not own any airports; the state-owned airports are controlled by the independent Massachusetts Port Authority (which shares its headquarters with the Aeronautics Division).
The MassDOT Kiosk outside of the Park Plaza headquarters.
The 2009 reform law also created within MassDOT:
Office of Planning and Programming, providing centralized administrative services
Office of Transportation Planning
Office of Performance Management and Innovation
Internal Special Audit Unit
Healthy Transportation Compact, including the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Environmental Affairs, the Administrators of the Highway Division and the Transit Division, and the Commissioner of Public Health.
Real Estate Appraisal Review Board within the Highway Division - 3 to 5 people appointed by the governor
Office of Transition Management (temporary)
Workforce Retraining Initiative, serving employees displaced by the merger
and outside of DOT but supported by it:
Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure Oversight Commission - an independent commission of 7 people, with 4 appointed by the governor, and one each appointed by the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and State Treasurer.
Regional Transit Authority fares and assessments from municipalities
Turnpike, tunnel, and bridge tolls (restricted to spending on the tolled asset)
Parking and airport-related fees for Massport
RMV registration fees
General funding from Commonwealth of Massachusetts taxes
Accelerated Bridge Program ($3 billion 2009-2016)
The statewide budget included $919 million for transportation in FY2009, not including $797M in sales tax revenue dedicated to the MBTA.
Local cities and towns also receive vehicle excise tax revenues, and levy property taxes. Both state and municipal agencies can levy fines for parking and traffic violations.
Article 78 (LXXVIII) of the Massachusetts Constitution says all motor vehicle fees and taxes (except registration excise tax in lieu of property tax), including fuel taxes, must be spent on transportation, including roads, mass transit, traffic law enforcement, and administration. Transportation is thus a net recipient of general state funds.
By law, all federal transportation grants must be allocated by the responsible MPO. Statewide planning and coordination of MPOs is handled by the Department of Transportation.
Massachusetts Transportation Capital Planning Documents
Purpose / References
State Transportation Improvement Program
Collects all 13 regional TIPs plus statewide projects for state and federal transportation and environmental review. Required for federal funding, financially constrained. Approved by FHWA, FTA, and EPA.
(Regional) Transportation Improvement Program
13 regional MPOs
Approve road and transit projects of regional scale for federal funding based on transportation and environmental criteria. Determine consistency with federal air quality goals. MPO approval required for federal funding; plan must be fiscally constrained. TIP projects come from RTP projects and immediate needs. Each project has an "advocate" agency to oversee planning and implementation, file for federal funding, and provide local funding match.
Financially unconstrained listings and evaluation of regional road and transit projects. Required for federal funding. Projects are added to the RTP from public input, from CMS/MMS recommendations, and by government agencies. In Boston, transit projects are filtered through the MBTA PMT and two RTAs.
Actually approve projects for MBTA funding. 100% state and federally funded projects are also noted, as are anticipated federal matching funds subject to outside approval. Fiscally constrained.
Massachusetts Bicycle Plan
Identify bicycle access capital improvement projects, coordinate statewide bicycle policies and programs.
Unified Planning Work Program
13 regional MPOs
A list of transportation studies to be conducted by the MPO. Required for federal funding.
MMS or CMS
Mobility Management System or Congestion Management System
13 regional MPOs
Identify and measure congested corridors; recommend solutions. Required for federal funding.
State Rail Plan
Identify rail projects with the best return on investment, fulfill federal requirements.
CTPS is the Central Transportation Planning Staff, which is the staff of the Boston MPO and with which the MBTA contracts for planning assistance.
The Highway Division accepts submissions for projects from its district offices and municipalities.
Accelerated Bridge Program
The Accelerated Bridge Program is a bond bill signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in August 2008, a year after the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse put the state's bridges in the spotlight. The $3 billion, 8-year accelerated bridge program will replace and rehabilitate around 270 bridges statewide. 300-500 additional bridges will be preserved to prevent further deterioration. As of September 1, 2015, the program has reduced the number of structurally deficient bridges to 408, from 543 in 2008. The program is paid for using bonds in anticipation of future federal transportation grants to be issued to the state.
The MassDOT has called the Accelerated Bridge Program the "Laboratory of Innovation". Engineers on each project are invited to investigate other options to replace the bridges faster and more efficiently to reopen the bridges to traffic faster. Some of these options for the projects are:
Heavy lift of a slide-in bridge (e.g. Route 2 Phillipston)
Float-in bridge (e.g. Craigie Drawbridge)
Modular bridges (e.g. I-93 Medford)
"Bridge in a backpack" was used to rebuild a bridge over the Scott Reservoir Outlet in Fitchburg for $890,480. With this technique, lightweight composite tubes are carried into place by several workers on foot (instead of by truck, crane, or heavy equipment) and then the weather-resistant tubes are filled with concrete.
Bridges constructed in a single phase with traffic detoured (instead of a temporary bridge and multiple phases)
As of September 2015, there were 198 active or completed contracts, including replacement or repair of the following bridges (some of which span multiple contracts):