Category Archives: Public Construction

Value Capture – The Beginning of the State-Local Transportation Match

Next week, Governor Baker’s economic development bill will begin to emerge from the Legislature now that versions of his original bill have  passed both branches of the legislature and are headed for a conference committee.  Those who follow transportation policy trends will be watching for the outcome of the value capture amendment, sponsored by Representative Bill Straus, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation. … More

Massachusetts Transportation for 2015

As we turn the corner on 2014 and on eight years of the Patrick administration, transportation stakeholders in Massachusetts wonder what 2015 and beyond will bring five years after the creation of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  In November, Massachusetts voters chose to repeal the portion of the Commonwealth’s 2013 Transportation Finance Law that indexed the Commonwealth’s motor fuel tax to inflation.  They also elected Charlie Baker our next Governor. … More

America’s Government Is Gridlocked. Its Roads Don’t Have To Be.

This summer, roadway construction season will not be interrupted after all, as Congress passed another “patch” to the Highway Trust Fund to take us up to May of 2015. But how do we expect the U.S. DOT to plan and implement a long-term infrastructure investment program for our nation with nine-month term funding authorizations, after which no funds can be spent without another act of Congress?  How can the states rely on the Federal government as partner and make commitments to address their multi-billion capital maintenance and investment needs with these short-term funding extensions and no long-term resolution or direction in sight?… More


As nearly every media outlet in America has reported, the Congress last night approved a $10.8 billion transportation bill that will pay for highway and transit projects for the next nine months.  It’s good news, sure.  In practical terms, it means that transportation funding will continue to flow past today’s deadline.  That matters to anyone interested in a project that is funded with Federal monies, and in Massachusetts,… More

Transportation Revenue for Massachusetts – A Reward for Ten Years of Reform

Labor Day weekend marks the end of what for some will be remembered as the summer that brought net new revenue to the Commonwealth’s transportation system.  Others see it as the logical end of the reform effort.  Still others will focus on the begining of a new phase of transportation debate – with the rivarlies and lack of funding put aside (for now), let’s discuss what gets fixed and what gets built and why.  … More

Alternative Delivery Rising?

A rising tide lifts all boats, but will it also cause owners to jump ship from their favorite project delivery methods?  That’s the premise of a recent ENR article on the alternative delivery market.

Traditional hard-bid, design-bid-build contracting became difficult to resist for many owners during the Great Recession, when hungry firms submitted low bids to keep busy.  The alternative delivery market fell sharply as a result,… More

Lessons Learned: The ASCE Report Card and Smart Infrastructure Improvements in Massachusetts

Earlier this week, the American Society of Civil Engineers released its quadrennial Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, and the message for 2013 was undeniable: “Needs Improvement.”

The Report Card gave the nation’s infrastructure a D+ overall (although in a potential silver lining, ASCE did note that this was an improvement from the 2009 grade of a solid D).  ASCE estimates that the United States needs $3.6 trillion in infrastructure investments over the next seven years to bring its transportation,… More

All Politics is Local: Governor Patrick Files $19 Billion Transportation Bond Bill

On March 13, 2013, Governor Patrick filed his comprehensive transportation bond legislation, proposing $19 billion in investments over the next ten years.  This bond bill offers the first specific numbers for funding the policy proposals outlined in the MassDOT strategic plan released in January. 

In the bill, the Governor proposes $4.6 billion for highway maintenance and construction, $4.4 billion for regional rail,… More

Sequester Hits Federal Transportation Budget With a $1.9 Billion Cut

On March 1, 2013, every federal agency saw its funding for the current fiscal year take a significant hit, due to the budget mechanism known as the “sequester”.  Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the sequester is a blunt instrument, requiring across-the-board cuts of about 5% to the discretionary FY13 funding for almost all non-defense executive branch agencies — including the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Nevertheless,… More

The President’s Infrastructure Plan – When $50 Billion Doesn’t Go as Far as it Used To

On February 20, 2013, the President released his Plan to Make America a Magnet for Jobs by Investing in Infrastructure, which calls for adopting a “fix-it-first” approach to infrastructure expenditure.  The Plan recycles the President’s proposal from the American Jobs Act (first rolled out in September 2011, and again in December 2012 as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations) for a $50 billion investment in transportation infrastructure. … More

A Close Look at Transportation Debt Shows Where the Money Goes

The Commonwealth’s transportation team continues with its tour to discuss the state’s transportation investment deficit.  Some reports put that deficit — measured as the difference between what is being spent today and what officials believe should be spent to bring the system into a state of good repair — at $1 billion.  Other reports have that number as greater than $1 billion.  Regardless, all of the professionals agree that the investment deficit is large and that new net revenues,… More

Public Construction Industry Continues to be a Target for False Claims Enforcement

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office has used the Massachusetts False Claims Act to recover significant funds for the commonwealth in these tight fiscal times.  The AG’s Office recovered more than $40 million in non-Medicaid actions under the Act in Fiscal Year 2011.  A number of the most recent false claims enforcement actions have involved the public construction industry and contractors need to recognize the broad scope of the Act and take precautions to understand and comply with their obligations.… More

AG Brings Criminal Action for Prevailing Wage Violation Against Contractor

While its primary vehicle is civil enforcement, the AG’s Office recently brought criminal charges against a Dedham construction company for prevailing wage violations.  Lancaster Enterprises pleaded guilty to charges of failing to pay the prevailing wage and a variety of other prevailing wage matters.  The owner was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $37,000 in restitution.  Crucially, the owner and the company were debarred from bidding on public construction projects for five years.… More