Transportation funding poses problems for I-91 viaduct project - FOX Carolina 21

Transportation funding poses problems for I-91 viaduct project

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

There are new concerns about replacing the city's Interstate 91 overpass, as lack of money could stop the project and possibly affect a casino decision.

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray told CBS 3 on Thursday that the governor's office and the state Legislature are $600 million apart in proposed transportation funding.

The cost alone for the proposed project to replace the overpass is $400 million.

"The governor and I appreciate that asking for any more money is difficult," Murray stated.

But, Murray said the extra money to fix roads is necessary if the state wants to remain in the forefront of job creation.

"States, regions, countries that have first class infrastructure are where jobs are created and expand," said Murray. "The Legislature put forth a proposal, but we are concerned that it does not fund all of the things that need to be funded."

A pothole in the city's I-91 overpass on Wednesday was just the latest concern for that stretch of road. Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey told CBS 3 media partner Mass Live and The Republican, that the state spends $2 million a year on repairs for the viaduct.

"It is not just a Springfield concern," said Kevin Kennedy, the city's chief development officer. "This is part of our highway network that connects business up and down the Northeast corridor."

The overpass could be a key factor in the Western Mass casino race. Both MGM's $800 million proposal for the city's South End and Penn National's $807 million proposal for the city's North End would be situated right next to the interstate.

It is something the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has noted.

"Both casinos have said they will use that as their primary way of having people get here," said Kennedy. "It is in the equation, but we know there is going to be traffic. The question is how are we going to manage it."

While the state House of Representatives plans its vote for Monday, the governor's office believes there is still room to negotiate and try to get the I-91 project up and running.

"We need to push to see if we can do a higher number so we can do this once and for all," said Murray. "[So we do not] have to come back in a couple of years again and try to get this done for the next decade."

Should the state House vote and pass its transportation bill on Monday, it will then be sent to the state Senate.

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