Question 1 Supporters Respond to New Report on Massachusetts’ 644 Structurally Deficient Bridges

Andrew Farnitano

Aug 31, 2022

Fair Share Amendment Campaign Calls for Greater Investment in Crumbling Bridges With Passage of Question 1 on November Ballot

Bridges Across Massachusetts – A new report from the Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center finds that Massachusetts has 644 structurally deficient bridges, and that 1 in 9 bridge crossings in the state occur on a structurally deficient bridge.

Supporters of the ‘Yes on 1’ campaign working to pass the Fair Share Amendment, the proposed state tax on incomes above $1 million which would raise billions of dollars to invest in transportation and public education, responded to the report during a virtual press conference earlier today, with speakers calling in from structurally deficient bridges across the state. The Fair Share Amendment is Question 1 on the November statewide ballot.

“Bridges that are closed curtail the community’s accessibility, and it really harms our ability to grow our economy,” said Kathy Lynch, owner of the Montague Village Store, who spoke next to the structurally deficient Centre Street Bridge in Montague, which was recently closed after several years of being reduced to one lane with weight restrictions. “Now we have one access way into town, which makes travel and local tourism very difficult. We can’t sustain our community without additional funding for infrastructure. If I am ever fortunate enough to make over a million dollars a year, I will be more than happy to kick in my fair share.”

During the virtual press conference, campaign supporters called for greater investment in the Commonwealth’s crumbling and structurally deficient bridges, and for passage of Question 1 in November to invest in roads, bridges, and public education.

“Our crumbling infrastructure is dangerous, and it’s hurting our economy,” said Collique Williams, Organizer, Community Labor United, who spoke from the structurally deficient River Street Bridge in Boston, which was shut down to vehicles in May after bridge inspectors identified beam deterioration. “This bridge is an important part of this community. In the 30-plus years I’ve lived here, I’ve probably gone over this bridge over ten thousand times, going to and from school, or taking my nephew to school on my way to work. By passing Question 1 in November, we’ll have the ability to repair our crumbling bridges by making the very rich pay their fair share.”

“Repairing bridges is an investment in people, in middle-class jobs, and also an investment in business, because businesses can’t invest in our communities if they can’t get their products, their supplies, and their people back and forth safely to work,” said Charlie Payne, Business Representative for Carpenters Union Local 336, who spoke from the structurally deficient St. James Ave. bridge in Springfield. “If this bridge collapsed right here, right now, or was deemed unserviceable, businesses on both sides of the bridge would suffer or go out of business. We can’t afford to let that happen.”

“In the city of Worcester, we are considered a melting pot. However, with the potholes in the ground, there’s no way to sustain us,” said Worcester parent Nelly Medina, who spoke from underneath the structurally deficient 1-290 bridge over East Central Street in Worcester. “It’s really sad to see a bridge held up by pieces of wood. As a mom, I know that Question 1 needs to pass so we can get on with living our lives and fix this crumbling bridge behind us.”

“In Great Barrington, we have seven bridges on the Housatonic River — every one of them was found to be structurally deficient or functionally obsolete,” said Great Barrington resident Michael Wise, who spoke next to the structurally deficient Cottage Street Bridge in Great Barrington, which has been closed to automobile traffic since December 2019. “We really could use the money from the Fair Share Amendment.”

Transportation experts emphasized that Question 1 is needed to fund additional bridge repair and replacement work throughout Massachusetts, and that if we don’t address our crumbling bridges now, they’ll only hold back our economy and become more dangerous, and more expensive to repair, in the future.

“Bridges that are in disrepair are more likely to become closed or to prohibit heavy vehicles from crossing them. They pose a greater danger and become more costly in the future,” said Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst & Advocacy Director, Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center and co-author of the new report. “On average, every day in Massachusetts, 14.3 million crossings take place across structurally deficient bridges. That’s 165 vehicles every second. Without additional investment, conditions will deteriorate in the coming years.”

“Massachusetts bridges are in desperate need of increased investment to improve roadway safety, resiliency of our infrastructure to address climate change, improve equity for historically disadvantaged communities, and improve the economic viability of the Commonwealth,” said Pete Wilson, Senior Advisor, Transportation for Massachusetts. “The Fair Share Amendment will provide additional resources dedicated to transportation for long-term, responsible, sustainable funding to improve the Commonwealth’s bridges, and only people who earn more than a million dollars a year will pay more.”

Background on Question 1: the Fair Share Amendment

The Fair Share Amendment – Question 1 on the November ballot – will allow Massachusetts to improve our transportation and public education systems by making the very rich pay their fair share. Question 1 would create a 4 percent tax on the portion of a person’s annual income above $1 million and constitutionally dedicate the funds to be spent on transportation and public education. Only people who earn more than $1 million annually will be impacted; 99% of us won’t pay a penny more. And we’ll all benefit from better schools, roads, bridges, and public transportation. Learn more and get involved at FairShareMA.com

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