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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is a federally mandated prioritized listing of highway, bridge, intermodal and transit projects expected to be undertaken during the next four federal fiscal years - FFY 2013 through FFY 2016. The document is a compilation of those state, regional and local transportation priorities funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and must be financially-constrained to the federal amounts allocated to Massachusetts. The project lists are updated annually and include projects programmed by the state’s ten metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and the three non-MPOs.

For the reader, this document is divided into six major sections:

  • Part I Is the Overview and contains narratives, certifications, and descriptions necessary for submission to appropriate federal and state reviewing agencies;
  • Part II lists all projects programmed in the regional TIPs, as well as those projects funded on a statewide basis;
  • Part III contains the status-to-date of FFY 2012 in the October 2011 STIP submittal;
  • Part IV provides a discussion of air quality conformity determination within the Commonwealth;
  • Part V details the state’s public outreach program in soliciting input on the STIP;
  • Appendix contains a variety of source documents used by MassDOT and the RPAs in the development of the State TIP and the regional TIPs.

Organization Context

Current Structure

MassDOT includes four Divisions: Highway, Rail/Transit, Aeronautics, and Registry of Motor Vehicles. The Secretary appoints an administrator for each division.

Highway Division:

The Highway Division includes the roadways, bridges, and tunnels of the former Massachusetts Highway Department and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. The Division also includes many bridges and parkways previously under the authority of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Highway Division is responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of the Commonwealth's state highways and bridges. The Division is responsible for overseeing traffic safety and engineering activities including the Highway Operations Control Center to ensure safe road and travel conditions.

Rail / Transit Division:

The Rail/Transit Division is responsible for all rail and transit initiatives and oversees the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and all Regional Transit Authorities of the Commonwealth. The MassDOT Board of Directors serves as the governing body of the MBTA.

Aeronautics Division:

The Aeronautics Division has jurisdiction over the Commonwealth's public use airports, private use landing areas, and seaplane bases. It is responsible for airport development and improvements, aviation safety, aircraft accident investigation, navigational aids, and statewide aviation planning. The Division certifies airports and heliports, licenses airport managers, conducts annual airport inspections, and enforces safety and security regulations.

Registry of Motor Vehicles:

The Registry of Motor Vehicles Division is responsible for vehicle operator licensing and vehicle and aircraft registration, available online and at branch offices across the Commonwealth. The Registry oversees commercial and non-commercial vehicle inspection stations.

Commonwealth's Initiatives

The following is a brief summary of several key MassDOT policies and initiatives that have effects on the development and implementation of this STIP and future STIPs.

WeMove Massachusetts

weMove Massachusetts is MassDOT’s statewide strategic multi-modal plan, and is a product of the transportation reform legislation, as well as the youMove Massachusetts civic engagement process.

Since 2009, MassDOT has undertaken a wide-reaching reform effort, designed to improve how it does business, how its responds to its customers, and how it provides the transportation services that are a crucial foundation for the sustainable economic development of the Commonwealth. The weMove Massachusetts process is the first comprehensive effort to prioritize the Commonwealth’s transportation investments in a way that reflects what everyone feels is important for the transportation system. Between now and early 2013, weMove Massachusetts will:
  • Regularly articulate MassDOT’s goals, priorities, and policies, which are based on public input.
  • Advance important statewide policy goals for improving mobility, protecting the environment, promoting economic growth, and improving public health and quality of life.
  • Better use available information to allocate funding and prioritize projects in a clear and transparent way.
  • Communicate with stakeholders about their ideas on improving transportation services.
  • Engage all of our staff at MassDOT in the weMove Massachusetts process.

A safe and efficient transportation system, one that provides users with a good range of options for getting around, is an important building block for a successful, prosperous, and equitable future. However, the Commonwealth faces a series of ongoing challenges:

  • Resources are limited and unequal to needs, so the Commonwealth will strive for the most cost-effective approach to transportation investments.
  • Transportation infrastructure is aging. Because deferring maintenance worsens this problem over time, making the right investments today will lead to future savings for citizens.
  • Good jobs are needed today. Making the right investments in infrastructure puts people to work, leverages private investment, and facilitates job growth.
  • The state’s population is constantly changing. As we welcome new residents to the Commonwealth and as those residents live longer, the transportation system must respond to the needs of all users.
  • Extreme weather events impact everyone. Tornadoes, major storms, and out-of-season snowfall events require quick responses to keep people and goods moving.

By implementing a robust decision-making framework based on these principles, MassDOT will be able to spend its limited resources on investments into the transportation system that yield the greatest return in meeting the Commonwealth’s needs, to defend its investment decisions with data, and to meet these goals while understanding the aspirations and concerns of the traveling public.


GreenDOT is MassDOT’s comprehensive environmental responsibility and sustainability initiative that will make MassDOT a national leader in “greening” the state transportation system. Through the full range of our activities, from strategic planning to construction and system operations, MassDOT will promote sustainable economic development, protect the natural environment, and enhance the quality of life for all of the Commonwealth’s residents and visitors. This will enable MassDOT to use resources in a manner that serves its existing customers while preserving our resources for future generations. GreenDOT will be driven by three primary goals:

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • promote the healthy transportation options of walking, bicycling, and public transit; and
  • support smart growth development.

GreenDOT calls for MassDOT to incorporate sustainability into all of its activities, from strategic planning to project design and construction to system operation. GreenDOT was implemented in response to several existing state laws, Executive Orders, and MassDOT policies. These include the 2009 Transportation Reform Law that created MassDOT and established the Healthy Transportation Compact that promotes improved public health through active transportation; MassDOT’s Complete Streets design approach that calls for appropriate accommodation of all transportation system users; and the Global Warming Solutions Act, the 2008 state law that calls for measurable and enforceable reductions in economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts: a reduction of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and a reduction of 80 percent below 1900 levels by 2050.

The GreenDOT initiative has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions over 2 million tons by 2020, a reduction of about 7.3 percent below 1990 transportation sector emission levels, through a range of measures that includes the mix of projects and transportation system investments. In cooperation with the regional planning agencies and metropolitan planning organizations, MassDOT has begun to track greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts of the regional planning planning programs, including the investment programs in the regional transportation plans (RTPs) and the regional transportation improvement programs (TIPs). The ultimate objective of tracking GHG impacts of transportation investments is to enable MassDOT and the MPOs to work together to balance highway system expansion projects with other projects that support smart growth development and promote public transit, walking and bicycling. Examples include transit and rail projects, complete streets planning that includes bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, and investments in greener, more efficient fleet vehicles and renewable power. Appendix H presents the narrative which estimates the emissions resulting from the projects programmed in FFY 2013-2016.

Alternative Fuels

With the CMAQ-funded statewide alternative fuels vehicle program, seventy new more-fuel efficient or electric vehicles have been purchased, enabling the retirement of an equivalent number of MassDOT vehicles. This program will continue through FFY 2014 and will impact 75 vehicles.

MassDOT has developed a new Electric Vehicle Plate, which will be available for any passenger or commercial vehicle that is either electric-powered or a hybrid vehicle. There is no special annual fee for the electric vehicle plate. The normal one-time plate replacement fee of $20 will apply. Massachusetts is the second state in the U.S. to offer the plate to drivers. This unique license plate will help emergency responders quickly identify electric/hybrid vehicles, as these require the use of special safety techniques.

Healthy Transportation Compact

The Healthy Transportation Compact is a key requirement of the landmark transportation reform legislation signed into law in June 2009. Co-chaired by the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Health and Human Services and including the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, MassDOT Highway Administrator, MassDOT Transit Administrator, and Commissioner of Public Health, this inter-agency initiative is designed to facilitate transportation decisions that balance the needs of all transportation users, expand mobility, improve public health, support a cleaner environment and create stronger communities.

MassDOT views the Healthy Transportation Compact as an exciting opportunity to strengthen the commitment to public health and increased access for bicyclists and pedestrians. In order to achieve this, MassDOT is committed to facilitating comprehensive coordination among the public sector, private sector, and advocacy groups, as well as among transportation, land use, and public health stakeholders.

Complete Streets

A complete street is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes – foot, bike, transit, automobile – and for all ages and abilities. While many existing roadways are designed to optimize automobile travel, the complete streets movement has sought to increase the role of non-motorized and transit options by providing continuous sidewalks, bicycle lanes, or wide shoulders. Instead of simply focusing on main streets or downtown corridors, a complete streets policy creates a safe, accessible environment throughout a transportation network. Increasing the role of the pedestrian and bicyclist in roadway design and operation standards, complete streets policies are meant to ensure that safe travel options exist for all users. MassDOT’s Project Development and Design Guide, which was published in 2006, embraces this approach to roadway design, and serves as a useful guide on how to implement the Complete Streets design approach.

Complete Streets is MassDOT’s program for communicating and implementing the comprehensive multi-modal philosophy in MassDOT’s Project Development and Design Guide. The Complete Streets design approach has been communicated statewide in a series of workshops offered in fall 2011 through spring 2012, to enable municipal officials, local leaders, decision makers and consultants to value and understand the framework to deliver Complete Streets locally.

There are two types of workshops: the 3-hour primer focuses on transportation, public health, and environmental benefits, and, discusses implementation strategies for Complete Streets. The 6-hour Complete Street Workshop provides a more technical approach designed for the Commonwealth’s roadway planners and engineers.

The Bay State Greenway

The Bay State Greenway (BSG) is the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s proposed, long-distance bicycle transportation network. A central recommendation of the 2008 Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan, the BSG is a seven-corridor, 740-mile network of bicycle routes that comprise both off-road and on-road bicycle facilities. This primary network is also supported by secondary on- and off-road routes. The BSG routing was selected in order to connect to urbanized areas with the greatest density of trips in order to maximize the potential for transportation-oriented trip-making, and to facilitate increased bicycling; maximize the use and connectivity of existing shared-use paths; provide continuous routes; enable immediate implementation by identifying bicycle-compatible on-road routes, including many state highways with wide shoulders; and provide for future connections on proposed off-road shared-use paths. The Bay State Greenway as a whole includes approximately 200 miles of existing shared-use paths, along with 300 additional miles of proposed shared-use paths. Because this is such a large amount of new shared-use paths, MassDOT has identified the highest priority shared-use path projects: 100 miles of new shared-use paths that would make additional connections to urban centers, extend existing paths, and maximize the transportation network. This program of 100 miles of the highest priority paths is known as the BSG 100.

Bay State Bike Week

Massachusetts is the first state to have a statewide bike week, presented by the State DOT and the State Bicycle Advocate, and launched in 2010 as a Healthy Transportation Compact initiative. Bay State Bike Week (BSBW) is the annual springtime celebration of bicycling in Massachusetts in May and reinforces MassDOT’s GreenDOT goals. For 2012, the event occurred from May 14th to May 20th.

Go by Bike!

The Go By Bike! brochure provides a concise and easily understood summary of biking basics. The brochure can be used to help a range of ages and experience levels get an easy ride when they “Go By Bike!” Like Bay State Bike Week and the “Same Roads, Same Rules” campaign, “Go By Bike!” is another product of the essential MassBike – MassDOT partnership.

Moving Together

Moving Together is the Commonwealth’s annual bicycling and walking conference, which was initiated in 1999. The conference brings together professionals from state and local government, advocates, and design professionals to advance bicycle and walking transportation. The next conference is scheduled for October 2012; approximately three thousand individuals, including representatives of hundreds of agencies and organizations, are invited to the event.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS)

is a federal-aid program of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The program provides funds to states to improve the ability of primary and middle school students to walk and bicycle to school. Increasing the number of students who walk and bicycle to school helps improve students’ health, reduce traffic congestion, and improve air quality in Massachusetts communities.

According to the US Department of Transportation, fewer than 16 percent of children walk or bicycle to classes. School-related traffic can contribute more than 10 percent of morning rush hour traffic volumes in some communities, as well as significant air pollution.

MassDOT’s SRTS program has two principal components. The SRTS education and encouragement program, which is managed by the MassRIDES travel options team, provides in-school programming to inform and promote walking and bicycling to school in order to improve student’ s health, reduce traffic congestion, and improve air quality in Massachusetts communities. The SRTS infrastructure program, which is delivered by the TEC, Inc. team, provides planning and design services for qualifying partner schools that can lead to construction of walking and bicycling improvements at the school. The SRTS program is a key initiative of the Healthy Transportation Compact.

Massachusetts Walk and Bike to School Day

As part of the Safe Routes to School program, May 2, 2012 was a celebratory day for thousands of elementary and middle school aged children to participate in hundreds of walking and bicycling events across the Commonwealth. Massachusetts established Walk to School Day in 2007. Since then, partner schools have conducted over 500 walking and bicycling events to use this day to encourage students, parents, and school staff to try walking and bicycling to school.

Mass in Motion

Mass in Motion is an initiative of the Health and Human Services Secretariat that aligns with the vision of the Healthy Transportation Compact (HTC). Mass in Motion was launched to address the social and transportation conditions that contribute to Massachusetts’s increasing obesity rates. The initiative seeks to promote healthy communities, eating habits and increased psychical activity among Massachusetts residents.

Accelerated Bridge Program

The historic $3 billion Patrick-Murray Accelerated Bridge Program represents a monumental investment in Massachusetts bridges. This program will greatly reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state system, while creating thousands of construction jobs on bridge projects. To complete this program MassDOT will rely on the use of innovative and accelerated project development and construction techniques. As a result, projects will be completed on-time, on-budget and with minimum disruption to people and to commerce.

Since 2008, the number of former MassHighway and Department of Conservation and Recreation structurally deficient bridges has dropped from 543 to 439, a decline of 19.2%. As of June 1, 2012 the ABP Program has completed 90 bridge projects, with another 72 bridge projects currently in construction, and an additional 25 bridge projects scheduled to start construction within the next year. Over the course of the eight year program, more than 200 bridges are planned to be replaced or repaired.

Tunnel Safety

MassDOT along with public safety partners has initiated a public awareness campaign to inform motorists of the steps they should take in the event of an accident or breakdown inside MassDOT’s tunnels. Drivers involved in a crash, or stuck in a disabled vehicle, should remain in their car until help arrives.

Along with encouraging drivers to remain in their vehicles, the campaign reminds drivers that video streams of the downtown Boston highway tunnel system are monitored 24/7 by MassDOT’s Highway Operations Center. State Police are ready to respond to tunnel incidents within minutes. To increase tunnel emergency awareness, an informational brochure is being handed out for the first time today at toll plazas on the Tobin Bridge, the Airport Tunnels and the Allston/Brighton plaza. E-ZPass customers will receive this information via email as part of their monthly statements. Also, billboards with tunnel awareness tips are now in rotation on the digital boards along I-93 in Medford and Stoneham.

The awareness campaign was created in the wake of the death of a motorist inside the O’Neill Tunnel in November 2011. Other tips for drivers include: pulling to the side of the road, activating hazard flashing lights and calling 911. If there is fire, drivers should turn off the engine and immediately exit the vehicle.

Rail Program

In the past four years, the Massachusetts rail system has received more than $500 million in new investment through competitive grants, public funds and private investment. These investments represent the most significant improvement in the Commonwealth’s rail system as a whole in decades. Massachusetts’ passenger rail system has been enhanced through a series of competitive federal grants, stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and other sources. These investments have provided upgrades to rail lines operated by both the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Amtrak. The South Coast Rail project has made significant progress through planning and environmental permitting; in order to facilitate implementation of the South Coast Rail project, MassDOT won a discretionary federal to rebuilt three rail bridges that are critical to the project.

The Knowledge Corridor

The Knowledge Corridor - Restore Vermonter project will restore Amtrak's intercity passenger train service to its original route by relocating the Vermonter service from the New England Central Railroad back to its former route on the Pan Am Railroad’s Connecticut River line. The Pan Am route provides a shorter and more direct route for the Vermonter between Springfield and East Northfield, and improves access to densely populated areas along the Connecticut River. The Pan Am route would include station stops at the former Amtrak station at Northampton and the new intermodal station at Greenfield. The routing of Amtrak service in Vermont and south of Springfield would remain unchanged. The project provides improvements to the existing Pan Am rail line, including crosstie replacement, rail replacement, rehabilitation of grade crossings, reactivation of passing sidings and portions of double track, upgrading of switches, improvements to signal and communications systems, surfacing and alignment of track, and improvements to bridges and station platforms. These improvements will facilitate the relocation of the Vermonter by improving safety, increasing operating speeds for existing freight train traffic and the Vermonter, and enhancing capacity on the rail line to accommodate future increased levels of train traffic. The improvements and rehabilitation work will be done within the existing railroad right of way.

South Station Expansion

This critical project will provide new tracks to accommodate additional passenger service on Amtrak and MBTA trains. This project is a priority for future rounds of HSIPR funding for Massachusetts. MassDOT has begun preparing an application to request funds for Preliminary Engineering and Environmental work as a foundation for a future request for construction funds.

South Station is the premier passenger rail hub in New England. It serves passengers from the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and beyond, connecting them to local and intercity destinations. It is one of the most significant architectural structures in the City of Boston, and one of its most important transportation assets. South Station offers commuters and travelers not only Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Commuter Rail service, but also intercity bus, MBTA rapid transit, and MBTA bus rapid transit services (including direct service to Boston Logan International Airport).

At present, South Station operates above its design capacity for efficient train operations and orderly passenger queuing. When it opened to the public in 1899, South Station had 28 tracks; that number is now 13, significantly constraining current and future rail mobility not only within Massachusetts but throughout New England and the NEC. South Station also lacks comfortable, modern facilities for passenger queuing, leaving riders standing in the elements as they wait to board their trains. In addition, South Station lacks sufficient ancillary vehicle storage capacity, constraining operations today and limiting future growth.

The objectives of the South Station High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Expansion and Layover Facility project are multiple, including:

  • To perform an Alternatives Analysis to determine how best to expand Boston South Station and create a new layover facility in order to improve existing rail service – local, regional, and intercity – in and out of Boston. The expansion of South Station will include improvements to tracks, platforms, interlockings, passenger facilities, and other attendant infrastructure.
  • To plan for the relocation of an existing U.S. Postal Service General Mail Facility in order to create an appropriate adjacent site onto which to expand Boston South Station.
  • To plan and design an enhanced passenger environment at South Station through improved streetscape and pedestrian, bicycle, local transit, and vehicular facilities in and around South Station, including the re-opening of Dorchester Avenue for public use.
  • To consider opportunities for joint public/private development over an expanded South Station.

Those actions will allow for the realization of the following benefits:

  • To improve the performance of existing and future high-speed and intercity passenger rail service to and from Boston. Today’s NEC on-time performance is approximately 85% for Acela Express and 75% for Northeast Regional trains. The 2030 target for on-time performance is 95% for Acela Express and 90% for Northeast Regional. Without expanding South Station and its support facilities, not only will these targets be missed, but on-time performance will deteriorate even further in the future.
  • To enable growth in high-speed and other intercity passenger rail service in the northeastern United States, at a time when both the roadway and aviation networks are at or over capacity.
  • To support sustainable economic growth and improved quality of life in NEC metropolitan areas, including Boston.
  • To support a more attractive and increased MBTA Commuter Rail service, with associated benefits such as increased statewide transportation access, environmental sustainability, and improved personal mobility.

Community Transit Grant Program

MassDOT's Rail & Transit Division in March announced the implementation of the new MassDOT Community Transit Grant Program in Fiscal Year 2013. This new program is a consolidation of several previously existing grant programs by the Community Transit Programs Unit and Regional Planning Agencies. This consolidation will enable the submission of a single grant application, which will streamline the grant application and approval process. Organizations applying for federal funds under Title 49 USC Sections 5310, 5311, 5311 (f), 5316, and 5317 and state funds under the Mobility Assistance Program will be able to use the new single application.

Beyond Boston

There are currently 15 Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) operating in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, not including the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). These agencies serve a total of 262 communities and provide over 29 million trips annually. The RTAs primarily operate fixed-route bus and paratransit/demand response service, but some also offer tailored or specialized services such as commuter bus, college shuttles, and seasonal routes. Other RTAs are more concentrated on human service transportation and have created extensive service networks that involve different types of service providers.

As populations change and shift, development and destinations spread and resources are increasingly stretched, yet service demands continue to grow. The Beyond Boston regional transit study is designed to more effectively strategize, prioritize, and deliver transit service throughout the Commonwealth. This study is a cooperative effort between MassDOT and the state’s 15 RTAs to identify and address a broad range of ideas that offer potential to improve the planning, organization, and delivery of public transportation service. Some of the issues that will be addressed include:

  • A thorough review of the Commonwealth’s transit network from a statewide perspective including the transit system operations and demands; barriers to improved service, and state, regional, and national best practices and trends.
  • An analysis of the operation of each RTA, with the purpose of identifying ways in which each regional transit authority can improve the efficiency of existing services, and provide new or expanded services to local communities.
  • The identification of transportation improvement projects for the regional transit authorities, and mechanisms to improve and maintain public transportation facilities and equipment.
  • An evaluation to ensure resources and investments provide an equitable allocation of investments in transportation across the regions of the Commonwealth.

Beyond Boston will also address the relationship between the MBTA and neighboring RTAs and identify opportunities for greater collaboration, and/or mechanisms for streamlining the management of public transportation assets.

Driver’s Manual, Testing and Enforcement Resources

In 2009, to further promote safe interactions on roads between bicycles and motor vehicles, Governor Deval Patrick signed several new laws. These will expand the rights of bicyclists, while also making it easier for police officers to issue them citations for their own traffic violations. These laws also place new legal responsibilities on motorists. The current and pending changes should help ensure that bicyclists will have a safer riding environment. The changes enforce stricter standards on motorists to be alert and careful in the presence of bicycles. Bicyclists have a legal right to use all public roads in this state except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted. Like motorists, they are also required to know and obey traffic laws and regulations. Both bicyclists and motorists need to understand the current and pending laws. As a motorist, you need to understand and appreciate that bicyclists are far more vulnerable to injury and death when forced off the road and when in collision with a motor vehicle. Drivers need to know and respect bicyclists’ rights, as well as their own legal responsibilities to safely share the road with bicycles.

Funding Categories

The following programs, eligibility requirements and the funds distributed between them reflect the programs established by SAFETEA-LU. As of this writing, Congress has neither re-issued a transportation appropriations bill, nor extended SAFETEA-LU. To that end, MassDOT has assumed level FFY 2015 funding for FFY 2016.

Federal Highway Administration

Bridge (BR)

Federal-aid bridge funding (80% federal / 20% non-federal is used to rehabilitate or replace bridges based upon the structure’s adequacy, safety, serviceability, age and public usage. Bridge funding is sub-allocated for projects that are on the federal-aid system (a road classified as a collector or higher) (BR-On) and those that are not (BR-Off).

Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ)

CMAQ funds (80% federal / 20% non-federal) are used for transportation programs and projects that will contribute to the attainment of a National Ambient Air Quality Standard in ozone, small particulates matter and carbon monoxide non-attainment areas. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been declared a non-attainment area.

High Priority Projects (HPP)

This program directs funds to congressionally-earmarked projects deemed as a “high priority” for the state where the project is located.

Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)

This funds safety improvement projects to reduce the number and severity of crashes at hazardous locations (90% federal / 10% non-federal).

Interstate Maintenance (IM)

This category provides federal funds (90% federal / 10% non-federal) to rehabilitate, restore, and resurface the Interstate Highway System, including the reconstruction of bridges, interchanges and overpasses along existing Interstate routes.

Surface Transportation Program (STP)

Funding under this category (80% federal / 20% non-federal) may be expended for construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, resurfacing, restoration, operational and safety improvements on roads classified higher than urban local or rural minor collectors. In addition to federal-aid roads, capital costs for transit projects are also eligible.

Ten percent of STP funds must be used on transportation enhancements (TE) such as landscaping, historic preservation, and stormwater mitigation. Additionally a certain subset of funds is available for specific areas with a population over 200,000 (STP-Boston; -Worcester; -Lawrence; -Providence; -Springfield).

National Highway System (NHS)

The National Highway System consists of interstate highways, other designated principal arterials, and connections to ports and intermodal facilities. Funds with this program (80% federal / 20% non-federal) can be used for any type of improvement including new lanes, reconstruction, and resurfacing.


Certain funding categories are project-specific, i.e. funds are ‘earmarked’ only for use in the development of that project. These earmarks are included in federal Transportation bills by a state’s congressional delegation, often at 100% federal reimbursement. These include, among others, Sections 115, 117, 129 and 125 categories.

Federal Transit Administration

The federal government, through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), provides financial assistance to develop new transit systems and improve, maintain, and operate existing systems. FTA oversees thousands of grants to hundreds of state and local transit providers through the FTA regional offices. The grantees are responsible for managing their programs in accordance with federal requirements and FTA is responsible for ensuring that these grantees follow the mandates along with statutory and administrative requirements. The various federally-fund transit categories are:

Section 5307 – Urbanized Area Formula Grant Program

Under SAFETEA-LU, program requirements remain virtually unchanged. Routine capital investments are funded with monies from this source including bus purchases, but for some smaller systems, a portion can be used to defray transit-operating expenses. Transit funds are allocated annually by the FTA to individual urbanized areas, as defined by the 2010 census, according to a formula based on population size. A portion of the program is for areas under 200,000 in population and a portion goes directly to areas over 200,000.

Section 5309- Capital Investment Grants

This category funds fixed guideway modernization projects, construction and extension of new fixed guideway systems, and bus and bus related equipment and construction projects. Fixed guideway modernization funds are provided to eligible recipients based on a federal funding formula. It remains a function of miles of fixed guideway (including HOV and busway) in revenue service and passenger miles of service.

Section 5310 - Elderly Persons and Person with Disabilities Formula program

Funds in this category are used to provide assistance for non-profit organizations that provide transportation for the elderly or the disabled. Funds may be used only for capital purchases or to purchase services that directly benefit the elderly or persons with disabilities. Funds are provided to the Commonwealth and allocated to the Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) by the Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works.

Section 5311 - Other than Urbanized Area Formula Program

This program funds public transportation in rural or non-urbanized areas (areas with populations of less than 50,000) and capital grants for intercity facilities and equipment. The Rural Technical Assistance Program (RTAP) provides funding for administration, operations, planning, training, technical assistance, research and support services. Like Section 5310, these funds are provided to the Commonwealth for allocation among the RTAs.

Section 5316 – Job Access/ Reverse Commute

This formula program provides funds to transport welfare recipients to and from jobs as well as activities related to their employment. It is now funded entirely from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and the grantees must be selected competitively. Ten percent of these funds may be used for administration, planning and technical assistance.

Section 5317 – New Freedom Program

This was a new program created in SAFETEA-LU whose purpose it is to encourage services and facility improvements to address the transportation needs of person with disabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

STIP Development

The MassDOT Highway Division is responsible for planning, developing and constructing hundreds of highway, bridge, roadway, and intermodal projects annually. The MBTA and the 15 RTAs in Massachusetts, in cooperation with the MassDOT Rail and Transit Division, are responsible for planning, developing, and implementing transit projects and investments. These projects are listed in this document and constitute the State Transportation Improvement Program. Before using this document, readers should be familiar with the fundamental terms, definitions and concepts contained within it. The following frequently-asked questions and answers will provide some of this information. In addition there are charts and tables that graphically depict this process.

What is the STIP?

The State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, is a compilation of the thirteen regional Transportation Improvement Programs prepared annually by the state’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). It is essentially a listing of priority transportation projects (highway and transit) listed by region and fiscal year. The STIP is compiled annually by the MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning (MassDOT Planning), in coordination with the MassDOT Highway Division, MassDOT Rail & Transit Division, the regional planning agencies (RPAs), the regional transit agencies (RTAs), and the Federal Aid Expenditure and Programming Office (FAPO). The proposed STIP is then reviewed and approved by state and federal transportation and environmental agencies.

What is a regional TIP?

Every year, each region must prepare and update its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), a staged four-year program of capital improvements that reflect the needs of the regional transportation system. Under federal regulations, the TIP must be constrained to available funding, consistent with the long-range Regional Transportation Plan, and include an annual element, or listing, of projects to be advertised in the first year of the TIP. Like the STIP, the regional TIP has a roadway component and a transit component.

What is an MPO?

An MPO is a regional body made up of state, regional and local officials that is responsible for conducting transportation planning and programming. In Massachusetts, each MPO has at least four common members; MassDOT, which acts as chair; MassDOT Highway Division; the RPA; and the RTA; other members of MPOs typically chief elected officials from a variety of municipalities. The Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration serve as non-voting members of MPOs.

Are RPAs and MPOs the same thing?

RPAs and MPOs are often confused because they encompass identical geographical boundaries in Massachusetts. RPAs, working under contract with MassDOT, conduct transportation and land use planning in their region. This includes serving as staff to the MPO to execute necessary transportation planning and analysis work. RPAs also have a representative serve as a voting member of its MPO. However, MPOs and RPAs serve different functions, and the terms should not be used interchangeably. A key distinction is that the MPO includes also includes representatives from state agencies, regional transit authorities, and municipalities, and it makes the final decisions on transportation project programming. By contrast, the RPA serves as a member of the MPO and as staff to support the MPOs decision-making.

How are budgets set for the TIPs?

Every year, usually in the spring, MassDOT receives a funding “authorization” or estimate from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). In recent years, this authorization has been approximately $560 million. Congress reviews the authorization during its budgeting process and sets a ceiling on how much can be spent from that authorization. This ceiling, called an obligation limitation, limits MassDOT’s ability to spend federal funding beyond the obligation limitation set by Congress.

A portion of the federal highway funding allocated to Massachusetts is directly transferred to the Central Artery/Tunnel project. MassDOT Highway Division, MassDOT Planning, and MassDOT’s Federal Aid and Programming Office (FAPO) jointly examine the remaining funding and determine how much of that amount is required for statewide needs, such as Interstate Maintenance, district-wide contracts, planning and transportation demand management. When funding for statewide needs is deducted from the total, the remainder is distributed to the MPOs by formula as in “funding target” or budget, for the regional TIP. The distribution is made according to a formula that is primarily based on the MPO’s road mileage and population. The formula for distribution among the MPOs was developed by the Massachusetts Association of Regional Planning Agencies (MARPA), and is known as the “MARPA formula.” Before this distribution is made final, MassDOT Planning meets and reviews the budgets with the MARPA members.

How is the TIP developed?

Development of the TIP is a cooperative effort among MPO members, regional communities, and elected officials. The RPA and MassDOT Highway Division jointly manage the roadway, bridge and intermodal portion of the TIP. MassDOT Planning and the MassDOT Highway Division District offices generally represent MassDOT Highway Division during the development of the TIP, with the Chief Engineer, Highway Engineering, Right of Way, and Environmental divisions also participating in the development of the TIP.

The TIP development process begins with a public announcement and solicitation of projects recommended for TIP programming. Once the RPA and MassDOT Highway Division reach general agreement on the highway portion of the TIP, MassDOT Planning and the RTA will have had an opportunity to contribute to and comment on the transit portion. The document is released for a thirty-day public comment period, and is adjusted based on public comment and reviewed by the MPO’s citizen advisory committee. Finally, the MPO meets to consider and formally endorse the TIP. All the regional TIPs are compiled into the State Transportation Improvement Program.

What is the role of the citizen advisory committee?

These committees advise the MPOs on regional transportation issues and normally play an active role in setting regional priorities in the TIP development process. The names of these groups vary among MPOs. Examples are: Joint Transportation Committee, Transportation Planning Advisory Group, Joint Transportation Planning Group. MassDOT Planning is an active, though non-voting, member of these committees as they advise the MPO on regional priorities. Likewise, the committees themselves are important, as their recommendations are often indicative of public support for TIP projects.

How long does it take to put the TIP together?

The TIP must be in place every year by October 1st, the first day of the federal fiscal year. The process takes several months, and generally begins in the late winter/early spring.

Who approves the TIP?

TIPs are approved by the membership of the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization.

How are projects added or subtracted from the TIP?

The STIP is a “living” document, and it is likely to be modified during the course of the year. MPOs must be involved in the decision to add or remove projects from the TIP. In some cases, this requires formal MPO endorsement of a TIP “amendment,” a process that can take two to three months. In other cases, the change can be accomplished with a TIP “adjustment” with a less formal MPO notification process. MassDOT Highway Division and RPA planning staff will advise on which procedure is needed, and distribute updates and revisions to other MassDOT Highway Division staff throughout the year.

Is there a difference between federal aid and non-federal aid projects on the Regional TIP?

The TIP is a requirement of federal planning regulations, which do not require the inclusion of non-federal aid (NFA) projects. However, many projects programmed on the regional TIPs include both federal aid and NFA funding sources. Major NFA projects may also be listed on the regional TIP “for information only.”

What about projects listed in the Regional TIP’s Appendix?

These lists, sometimes called “supplemental projects,” are often longer than the lists of projects that are programmed for federal aid; these lists typically include projects that are under development and may be regional priorities in the future. Alternatively, they may be relatively high regional priorities but have no funding associated with them.

Environmental Justice

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The Massachusetts Department of Transportation strives to make environmental justice (EJ) part of its goal by empowering its districts, regional planning agencies and local municipalities to reach out and involve people from all endeavors to participate in transportation planning through the development of the regional TIPs, unified planning work programs (UPWPs) and regional transportation plans (RTPs). This is done through local meetings, press releases, web site updates, open houses, and local forums on a variety of transportation topics.

Environmental Justice Populations in Massachusetts are determined by the following criteria:

  • 65% or less of the statewide median income; or
  • 25% of the residents are minority; or
  • 25% of the residents are foreign-born; or
  • 25% of the residents are lacking English language proficiency.

There are 109 municipalities of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns with an EJ population, and twenty of these meet all four of the criteria: Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Fall River, Framingham, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, New Bedford, Peabody, Revere, Salem, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham, Winthrop, and Worcester. A quick review of the programmed projects in Part II reveals significant infrastructure programming in these communities.

A recent example of the MassDOT EJ focus is the public outreach for the MBTA’s fare increase hearings. A total of thirty-one meetings were held; real-time close captioning and American Sign Language were provided when requested; and brochures in seven languages were made available. More than two thousand people spoke at the meetings, and almost six thousand emails were sent in by interested parties.

In FFY 2012, MassDOT Planning, in concert with the Title VI unit of MassDOT’s Department of Civil Rights, began the development of a list of major stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth. This initiative was launched to enable MassDOT to notify a wider audience of new policies, meetings, workshops, etc. Currently the database contains more than two thousand names of affected constituencies, and is undergoing review and refinement.

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