MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack announced July 2 the publication of new recommendations for the evaluation and prioritization of proposed capital projects. The recommendations have been submitted to MassDOT by an independent Project Selection Advisory Council, which has worked for 18 months to develop a new process for selecting transportation investments.
“This new prioritization system will help us to make important decisions about our capital resources in a way that is smarter and more transparent,” said Secretary Pollack. “I want to thank the members of the Project Selection Advisory Council for their hard work in the development of these new criteria, and their continued efforts as we enter the implementation phase.”
In 2013, the legislature established the Project Selection Advisory Council and charged it with developing a uniform, data-driven, and transparent approach to scoring and ranking capital transportation projects for funding. The new process, which MassDOT will begin to implement immediately, seeks to ensure that transportation dollars are spent in a multi-modal and strategic manner and are distributed in a regionally balanced way across the Commonwealth.
“This report represents real progress for MassDOT,” said Jeffrey B. Mullan, Council member and former MassDOT secretary. “Although there is much more work still to be done, the Council has laid the foundation for continued improvement in how the Commonwealth prioritizes its investments, an increasingly important issue today. I look forward to the implementation phase and to the additional work ahead.”
Throughout the period of its work, the eight-member Project Selection Advisory Council held 12 public meetings and six public hearings across Massachusetts.
The recommended evaluation process applies to two types of projects: (1) modernization projects, which replace and rehabilitate existing transportation assets, and (2) capacity projects, which add new transportation capacity or expand existing connections. Projects will be ranked according to a weighted formula that takes into account cost effectiveness, economic impact, environmental and health effects, mobility, safety, social equity, and system preservation.
“In the end, our aim was to develop a formula that would effectively evaluate the relative merit of each project, and to do so in a way that would not favor any one mode of travel, or any one region of the Commonwealth,” said Frank DePaola, Council member and interim general manager of the MBTA. “There is no question that there are a large number of worthy projects out there, but the question this formula seeks to answer is: how do we maximize our return on investment by funding the best possible projects within financial constraints?” The Project Selection Advisory Council’s report has been filed with the legislature, and implementation of the criteria is expected to begin shortly with the development of the FY2017-FY2021 capital investment plans for MassDOT and the MBTA. The Council has agreed to continue to advise and assist MassDOT and the MBTA through implementation of the recommendations.