Massachusetts Department of Transportation

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.[5]

Agency overview
FormedNovember 1, 2009 (2009-11-01)
Preceding agency
    • Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation
    • MassHighway
    • Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
    • Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission
    • Massachusetts Turnpike Authority
    • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Headquarters10 Park Plaza Boston, Massachusetts, US [2]
Agency executives
  • Stephanie Pollack[3], Secretary of Transportation;
  • Dominic Blue, Ruth Bonsignore, Lisa Calise, Russell Gittlen, Dean Mazzarella, Robert Moylan, Jr., Steve Poftak, Joseph Sullivan, Betsy Taylor, Monica Tibbits-Nutt, Board of Directors[4]
WebsiteOfficial website


In 2009, Governor Deval Patrick proposed merging all Massachusetts transportation agencies into a single Department of Transportation.[6] 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.

This change included:

E-ZPass scandal

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.[7]


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.[8][9]

Highway Division

Registry of Motor Vehicles Division

Formerly an independent state entity, which until 1992 even had its own uniformed police force for vehicular traffic law enforcement, the Registry of Motor Vehicles Division is now directly administered by MassDOT. It is the equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles in most states, and processes driver's licenses and motor vehicle registrations.

Mass Transit Division

All public transportation agencies are administered independently. However, the DOT Board of Directors is also the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the major provider of public transportation in the Greater Boston area.

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:[11][12]

The regional transit authorities shown in italics above are within MBTA's commuter rail service area, and provide connections to MBTA trains.[14]

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.

MassDOT is a member of the Northeast Corridor Commission.

Aeronautics Division

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).[15]

Government regulation of aviation in the United States is dominated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Airline passenger and baggage screening is provided by the federal Transportation Security Administration, but airport security is provided locally.

Other groups

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.

Other Massachusetts transportation agencies

Massachusetts Port Authority

The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) remains independent from the Department of Transportation, but the Secretary of Transportation serves on the Massport Board of Directors.[16] Massport owns and operates the maritime Port of Boston, Boston's Logan International Airport, Hanscom Field and Worcester Regional Airport, which was transferred from the City of Worcester in 2010.

Steamship Authority

The Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority regulates all ferry services to and from the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and also operates its own passenger, vehicle, and freight ferries. The Authority has an effective monopoly on car ferry service, but private companies operate various passenger routes.

State transportation funding

Transportation funding available to the state and its agencies include:

  • Multi-year federal transportation bill (most recently Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act); revenue comes from federal gas tax and general funds)
  • Massachusetts gas tax revenues
  • Dedicated MBTA revenues (sales tax, municipalities, fares, parking, advertising, real estate leases)
  • 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.[17][18][19]

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.

Capital planning

Massachusetts has 10 regional metropolitan planning organizations:[20]

and three non-metropolitan planning organizations covering the remainder of the state:[31]

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
Acronym Name Responsible agency Horizon Purpose / References
STIP State Transportation Improvement Program DOT 3 years 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.[35]
TIP (Regional) Transportation Improvement Program 13 regional MPOs 3 years 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.[36]
RTP (Regional) Transportation Plan[37] 13 regional MPOs ~25 years, updated every 4 years 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.[38]
PMT Program for Mass Transportation MBTA (by CTPS) 25 years, updated every 5 years Identify and evaluate public transit projects in the MBTA service area. Financially unconstrained. Required by state law.[39]
CIP MBTA Capital Improvement Plan MBTA 4–5 years 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.[40]
MBP Massachusetts Bicycle Plan DOT 25 years Identify bicycle access capital improvement projects, coordinate statewide bicycle policies and programs.[41][42]
UPWP Unified Planning Work Program 13 regional MPOs 1 year A list of transportation studies to be conducted by the MPO. Required for federal funding.[43]
MMS or CMS Mobility Management System or Congestion Management System 13 regional MPOs 4 years? Identify and measure congested corridors; recommend solutions. Required for federal funding.[44][45]
SRP State Rail Plan State DOT Not specified Identify rail projects with the best return on investment, fulfill federal requirements.[46][47]

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.[48]

Accelerated Bridge Program

The Accelerated Bridge Program[49] is a bond bill signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in August 2008,[50] 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.[49] 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:

  • Design/build (e.g. I-495 Lowell)
  • Prefabricated girders
  • Prefabricated deck panels (e.g. I-495 Lowell)
  • Prefabricated substructure
  • 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.[51] 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.[52][53]
  • 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):[51]


  1. "Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009 (Section 177)". The 186th General Court of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
  2. "Contact Us - MassDOT". Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  3. "About Us - MassDOT". MassDOT. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  4. "Board of Directors". MassDOT. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  5. Rosenberg, Stan; Dempsey, Chris (November 3, 2017). "If we build it, they will come: The case for first class transportation in Massachusetts (Guest viewpoint)". Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  6. "You Move Massachusetts". Archived from the original on 20 October 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  7. Lazar, Kay (2018-06-08). "Despite warning, MassDOT continued toll-free perk for workers, retirees". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  8. "Moving Massachusetts Forward : Massdot" (PDF). September 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  9. "Moving Massachusetts Forward : Massdot : BAppendix 10.2 - MassDOT Organizational Structure" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  10. Pazzanese, Christina (September 12, 2009). "A big concern on two major parkways". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
  11. "Regional Transit Authority Contact Information". Archived from the original on 2013-07-08. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  12. "Massachusetts Association of Regional Transit Authorities". Massachusetts Association of Regional Transit Authorities. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
  13. Vineyard Transit. "The Official Site of Vineyard Transit". Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  14. "Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, Regional Transit Authorities Coordination and Efficiencies Report" (PDF). Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-27. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  15. "Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission - Aeronautics". 10 August 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  16. Archived December 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  17. "Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center". 21 July 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  18. "Report as PDF - MassBudget". Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  19. (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on July 27, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. Archived from the original on September 27, 2006. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. Archived from the original on January 15, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. Archived December 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  23. Archived from the original on January 16, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. "Montachusett RPC -". Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  25. Archived from the original on March 10, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. "Northern Middlesex Council of Go". Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  27. "Central Transportation Planning Staff". Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  28. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. Archived from the original on September 28, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. "Cape Cod Commission - Home". Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  31. Archived from the original on October 6, 2006. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. "FRCOG". Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  33. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. Archived from the original on September 22, 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. The Boston MPO RTP is titled "Journey to 2030".
  38. Archived from the original on June 22, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. RDVO, Inc. "MBTA > About the MBTA > Financials". Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  40. "東京都で比較するAGA治療専門病院 - 東京都内で賢くAGAクリニックを選ぶ!". Archived from the original on 14 June 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  41. "Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan". 1 April 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  42. (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  43. Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  44. (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  45. "Rail Plan - Transit Division". Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  46. "Massachusetts Department of Transportation Rail Plan" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  47. Archived from the original on December 18, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  48. Retrieved 2016-01-23. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  49. "Session Law". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  50. "Active Projects September 1, 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  52. "'Bridge in a backpack' speeds up state projects". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
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