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BOSTON-Massachusetts is expected to receive more than $5.2 billion from the $286.4-billion federal transportation bill just passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. This represents a 25% increase over the amount of funding the commonwealth received in the last major federal transportation spending bill that covered projects from 1998 through 2003. The current funding covers the next six years and includes nearly $3.7 billion for highways and approximately $1.6 billion for transit projects throughout this state.

Among the specific projects to receive funding are the rebuilding of the Lechmere MBTA station, which is being expanded and relocated and construction of a National Park Service visitors’ center on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. There will also be a string of parks aggregating approximately 30 acres through the city and the extension of the Sommerville bike path and a study of the Urban Ring project in the Longwood Medical area are planned.

The legislation also authorizes final design and construction of Phase III of the Silver Line; extension of the Fitchburg and New Bedford-Fall River commuter rail lines, and the North-South rail link. In addition, the bill designates the northbound and southbound tunnel of Interstate 93 the “Thomas P. `Tip’ O’Neill Jr. Tunnel” after the late Speaker of the House.

Calling the funding “a big victory for Massachusetts,” Sen. Edward Kennedy, says in a statement, “With these funds, we’ll be able to address key transportation challenges in every corner of the Commonwealth.” Kennedy joined with Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Mike Capuano in drafting the legislation.

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