Saturday, 2:15 PM
Bridge repair program safe from budget cuts, official says
By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick’s $3 billion bridge rebuilding program will not be affected by today's budget cuts, a state transportation official said today.
Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen
“There is no freeze on hiring for those jobs and no hold-up in the funding,” said Bernard Cohen, the state transportation secretary, in comments following a Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Cohen said the eight-year program, expected to fix up to 300 dilapidated bridges, will be paid for through the capital budget. The Patrick administration plans to target the operating budget when it announces cuts this afternoon.
The state will issue bonds to pay for the repairs. Cohen said Patrick has urged him to move forward as quickly as possible on the repairs, hoping the spending will boost the economy.
Out of the state's 5,500 bridges, 543 are considered structurally deficient. Because so many of the structures are old, the number of deficient bridges continues to grow, even as crews make repairs.
Cohen said that Patrick’s cuts would have an impact on some transportation services, but declined to offer details until the official announcement is made today at 5 p.m.
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