MassDOT officials recently announced that they are committing $20 million over the next four years to fund the Complete Streets Certification Program. This represents a major achievement for MPHA, the Act FRESH Campaign, and all of our partners who have been organizing and advocating in support of this program over the last two years, but the fight is not over. The funding was authorized by the legislature last year as part of the Transportation Bond Bill, but it first required MassDOT approval. Even with the secured approval, the results of this week’s election creates uncertainty. With the passage of Question One, the state is poised to lose $1 billion in transportation funding over the next ten years. The immediate and long term implications are not yet known. MPHA will continue working with partners, including Transportation for Massachusetts, to push for adequate funding for complete streets and our entire transportation system.
The Complete Streets Certification Program will provide funding to municipalities to improve access and safety for public transit riders, pedestrians, and cyclists. The program is an important strategy for promoting health equity in low-income communities and communities of color which suffer the most from unsafe streets and lack of transportation options – conditions which lead to higher pedestrian fatality rates, higher transportation costs, poor air quality, and barriers to opportunity that can stand in the way of health, education, and prosperity. MPHA is currently working with our partners to advise MassDOT on implementation and roll out of the program. We anticipate that additional details will be available in the new year. The announcement was made at last week’s Healthy Transportation Compact (HTC) meeting that was held during the Moving Together conference. The HTC is charged with integrating health considerations into transportation planning and includes the secretaries of Transportation, Housing and Economic Development, Energy and Environmental Affairs, and Health and Human Services. MPHA is pleased to serve on the HTC’s advisory committee.