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.
|Formed||November 1, 2009|
|Headquarters||10 Park Plaza Boston, Massachusetts, US|
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.
This change included:
- Merging the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and MassHighway into the Highway Division.
- Transferring the Tobin Bridge from Massport.
- Transferring ownership of bridges from the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
- Merging the planning and oversight functions of the Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) into the new organization, and embedding the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission (MAC) and the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
- 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.
- Made up of the former state entities MassHighway and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority
- Interstate Highways, state highways, and the Massachusetts Turnpike. (Some portions of numbered state routes are owned and maintained by cities and towns.)
- Toll bridges and tunnels: the Tobin Bridge (transferred from MassPort on January 1, 2010), Sumner Tunnel, Callahan Tunnel, and Ted Williams Tunnel.
- All vehicular bridges in Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) parks are also either owned and maintained by DOT or scheduled to be transferred following completion of DCR work on them by the end of 2014. MassDOT took over the following urban roadways formerly under the DCR: McGrath and O'Brien Highways in Cambridge and Somerville, the Carroll Parkway portion of the Lynnway in Lynn, Middlesex Avenue in Medford, and Forest Hills Overpass ("Msgr. William Casey Highway overpass") (Jamaica Plain), Columbia Road (South Boston), Gallivan Boulevard (Dorchester), and Morton Street, all in Boston.
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.
- Berkshire Regional Transit Authority
- Brockton Area Transit Authority
- Cape Ann Transportation Authority (Boston MPO)
- Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority
- Franklin Regional Transit Authority
- Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority
- Lowell Regional Transit Authority
- Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority
- Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority
- MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (Boston MPO)
- Montachusett Regional Transit Authority
- Nantucket Regional Transit Authority
- Pioneer Valley Transit Authority
- Southeastern Regional Transit Authority
- Worcester Regional Transit Authority
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.
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).
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.
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. 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.
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)
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.
Massachusetts has 10 regional metropolitan planning organizations:
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.|
|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.|
|RTP||(Regional) Transportation Plan||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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|MBP||Massachusetts Bicycle Plan||DOT||25 years||Identify bicycle access capital improvement projects, coordinate statewide bicycle policies and programs.|
|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.|
|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.|
|SRP||State Rail Plan||State DOT||Not specified||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.
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:
- 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. 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)
- Longfellow Bridge major overhaul - $267 million
- Fore River Bridge in Quincy - $245 million
- Fall River - Braga Bridge - $141 million
- Kenneth F. Burns Bridge over Lake Quinsigamond - $89 million rehab
- I-93 bridges in Medford - $74 million
- Casey Overpass - replacement with at-grade intersections - $40 million
- Craigie Drawbridge replacement - $40 million
- Lowell - Replacement of six bridges along I-495 - $34 million
- Neponset River Bridge carrying Route 3A (phase 2 only) - $34 million
- Anderson Memorial Bridge rehab - $20 million
- Boston University Bridge rehab - $18 million
- McCarthy Overpass of the McGrath Highway temporary repairs - $11 million
- Westminster - Route 2 over Route 140 bridge replacement - $11 million
- Storrow Drive Tunnel rehab - $10 million
- Bowker Overpass rehab - $6 million
- "Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009 (Section 177)". The 186th General Court of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
- "Contact Us - MassDOT". Massdot.state.ma.us. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
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- "Board of Directors". MassDOT. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
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- "You Move Massachusetts". youmovemassachusetts.org. Archived from the original on 20 October 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
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- "Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission - Aeronautics". archive.org. 10 August 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- Archived December 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center". archive.org. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
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- "Session Law". malegislature.gov. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
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