Patrick administration slows transportation finance plan

Governor Deval Patrick’s administration will delay its long-awaited transportation finance plan to the Legislature by a week, submitting it Jan. 14 instead of this coming Monday, the deadline written into the law that provided emergency funding for the MBTA last year, according to multiple people briefed on the delay.

When lawmakers approved that T funding – a one-time fix that helped avoid even steeper fare increases as well as service cuts – they called on the administration to provide a detailed accounting of the state’s transportation-funding crisis and a plan for how to solve it. A bipartisan commission in 2007 estimated the gap at $19 billion over 20 years.

The Patrick plan is expected to update that report, tallying the amount needed to end a tide of red ink for the T as well as for the highway system and the state’s regional bus systems; the amount needed to address a vast backlog of repair and replacement needs; and the additional amount should the state invest in long-delayed expansions, such as commuter rail to New Bedford and Fall River.

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The Patrick report, to be submitted from the Department of Transportation to legislative leaders, is also expected to include a menu of options for generating more money for transportation – without identifying recommendations endorsed by the administration, which Patrick on Thursday said would follow in his budget or State of the State address later this month.