Lawmakers hopeful about money for Northborough roads

NORTHBOROUGH – Legislators Monday told selectmen they are hopeful Gov. Deval Patrick will approve $300 million for road improvements town officials say are crucial to a new plan they are developing.

"I think we’ll see the money," Sen. Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester, told selectmen, noting Patrick has made infrastructure a priority for his final year in office.

Patrick last year struck down a proposal from the Legislature to increase Chapter 90 funds – money that goes to pay for paving roads – from $200 million to $300 million statewide.

At Monday’s annual meeting to discuss legislative priorities, Town Administrator John Coderre said the increase is "crucial" to a new local plan to better care for town roads.

"We are counting on that money," Coderre said, to begin a proposed annual increase to amount of money the town puts toward paving its roads.

Coderre said a recent town study put together by the Public Works Department recommended the town spend $1.1 million annually to keep the roads in good shape.

He said all the money the town currently spends come from Chapter 90, which last year came in at about $492,000.

Coderre said if Chapter 90 was funded at $300 million statewide, Northborough would see about $738,000 and could begin developing a plan to bridge the gap to $1.1 million.

"That increase for us is critical," Coderre said, placing it at the top of his list of priorities for legislators.

Rep. Harold Naughton, D-Clinton, said the Legislature has all but approved suggesting the level be set at $300 million for fiscal 2015. He said though he couldn’t speak for Patrick, he doesn’t think the governor wants to "go to war" with the Legislature over the subject.

Coderre thanked Naughton, Chandler and Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough, for assisting the town in passing several bills he pitched at last year’s meeting.

While two bills passed, the highest priority bill – one that would exempt the town from Prevailing Wage Law on smaller projects – didn’t "get out of the gate," Coderre said.

The bill was the subject of a robust debate last year that got heated at times between Naughton and Selectman Jeff Amberson.

Amberson this year thanked Naughton and the others for their work on the bills that did get passed, saying it was only fair he be the first to praise them.

The town didn’t list Prevailing Wage Law on its list of top priorities for next year, but Gregoire said it’s something she will keep in mind.

Posted Mar. 25, 2014 @ 6:30 am

By Brad Petrishen
Daily News Staff