Massachusetts Department of Transportation

MassDOT Logo.svg
Agency overview
Formed November 1, 2009; 12 years ago (2009-11-01)
Preceding agency
    • Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation
    • MassHighway
    • Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
    • Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission
    • Massachusetts Turnpike Authority
    • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Jurisdiction Massachusetts[1]
Headquarters 10 Park Plaza, Boston, Massachusetts, US[2]
Agency executives
  • Jamey Tesler[3], Secretary of Transportation;
  • Timothy King, Chrystal Kornegay, Dean Mazzarella, Robert Moylan, Jr., Kathleen M. Murtagh, Vanessa Otero, Betsy Taylor, Monica Tibbits-Nutt, board of directors[4]

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) oversees roads, public transit, aeronautics, and transportation licensing and registration in the US state of Massachusetts. It was created on November 1, 2009 by the 186th Session of the Massachusetts General Court upon enactment of the 2009 Transportation Reform Act.[5]


In 2009, Governor Deval Patrick proposed merging all Massachusetts transportation agencies into a single Department of Transportation.[6] Legislation consolidating all of Massachusetts' transportation agencies into one organization was signed into law on June 26, 2009. The newly established Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MASSDOT) assumed operations from the existing conglomeration of state transportation agencies on November 1, 2009.

This change included:

E-ZPass scandal

In June 2018, The Boston Globe reported 467 current and former Massachusetts Department of Transportation employees were using the E-ZPass transponders for free. This employee benefit that has been going on since at least 2009 costs the Massachusetts taxpayers approximately $1 million per year. It is not clear if MassDOT has paid taxes on the benefit or reported it to the Internal Revenue Service, or who would be responsible if a payment to the IRS is required.[7]


As an executive department, the Governor of Massachusetts appoints the state Secretary of Transportation, who is also the "chief executive officer" of the Department. The governor also appoints a five-person board of directors which approves major decisions. The Department directly administers some operations, while others remain semi-autonomous.[8][9]

Highway Division

Registry of Motor Vehicles Division

Formerly an independent state entity, which until 1992 even had its own uniformed police force for vehicular traffic law enforcement, the Registry of Motor Vehicles Division is now directly administered by MassDOT. It is the equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles in most states, and processes driver's licenses and motor vehicle registrations.

Mass Transit Division

All public transportation agencies are administered independently. However, the DOT board of directors is also the board of directors for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the major provider of public transportation in the Greater Boston area.

The remaining 15 public transit authorities are called Regional Transit Agencies (RTAs), and they provide public bus services in the remainder of the state. The regional transit authorities are:[11][12]

The regional transit authorities shown in italics above are within MBTA's commuter rail service area, and provide connections to MBTA trains.[14]

DOT retains oversight and statewide planning authority, and also has a Rail section within the Mass Transit Division. Intercity passenger trains are operated by the federally owned Amtrak, and freight rail is privately operated.

MassDOT is a member of the Northeast Corridor Commission.

Aeronautics Division

The Aeronautics Division, formerly the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission, administers state financing of its airports; inspects and licenses airports and landing pads; registers aircraft based in Massachusetts as well as aircraft dealers, regulates airport security, safety, and navigation; and is responsible for statewide aviation planning. The Department of Transportation does not own any airports; the state-owned airports are controlled by the independent Massachusetts Port Authority (which shares its headquarters with the Aeronautics Division).[15]

Government regulation of aviation in the United States is dominated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Airline passenger and baggage screening is provided by the federal Transportation Security Administration, but airport security is provided locally.

The MassDOT Kiosk outside the Park Plaza headquarters.
The MassDOT Kiosk outside the Park Plaza headquarters.

Other groups

The 2009 reform law also created within MassDOT:

  • Office of Planning and Programming, providing centralized administrative services
  • Office of Transportation Planning
  • Office of Performance Management and Innovation
  • Internal Special Audit Unit
  • Healthy Transportation Compact, including the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Environmental Affairs, the Administrators of the Highway Division and the Transit Division, and the Commissioner of Public Health.
  • Real Estate Appraisal Review Board within the Highway Division – 3 to 5 people appointed by the governor
  • Office of Transition Management (temporary)
  • Workforce Retraining Initiative, serving employees displaced by the merger

and outside DOT but supported by it:

  • Public–Private Partnership Infrastructure Oversight Commission – an independent commission of 7 people, with 4 appointed by the governor, and one each appointed by the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and State Treasurer.

Other Massachusetts transportation agencies

Massachusetts Port Authority

The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) remains independent from the Department of Transportation, but the Secretary of Transportation serves on the Massport board of directors.[16] Massport owns and operates the maritime Port of Boston, Boston's Logan International Airport, Hanscom Field and Worcester Regional Airport, which was transferred from the City of Worcester in 2010.

Steamship Authority

The Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority regulates all ferry services to and from the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and also operates its own passenger, vehicle, and freight ferries. The Authority has an effective monopoly on car ferry service, but private companies operate various passenger routes.

State transportation funding

Transportation funding available to the state and its agencies include:

  • Multi-year federal transportation bill (most recently Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act); revenue comes from federal gas tax and general funds)
  • Massachusetts gas tax revenues
  • Dedicated MBTA revenues (sales tax, municipalities, fares, parking, advertising, real estate leases)
  • Regional Transit Authority fares and assessments from municipalities
  • Turnpike, tunnel, and bridge tolls (restricted to spending on the tolled asset)
  • Parking and airport-related fees for Massport
  • RMV registration fees
  • General funding from Commonwealth of Massachusetts taxes
  • Accelerated Bridge Program ($3 billion 2009–2016)

The statewide budget included $919 million for transportation in FY2009, not including $797M in sales tax revenue dedicated to the MBTA.[17][18][19]

Local cities and towns also receive vehicle excise tax revenues, and levy property taxes. Both state and municipal agencies can levy fines for parking and traffic violations.

Article 78 (LXXVIII) of the Massachusetts Constitution says all motor vehicle fees and taxes (except registration excise tax in lieu of property tax), including fuel taxes, must be spent on transportation, including roads, mass transit, traffic law enforcement, and administration. Transportation is thus a net recipient of general state funds.

Capital planning

Massachusetts has 10 regional metropolitan planning organizations:[20]

and three non-metropolitan planning organizations covering the remainder of the state:[31]

  • Franklin[32]
  • Martha's Vineyard Commission[33]
  • Nantucket[34]

By law, all federal transportation grants must be allocated by the responsible MPO. Statewide planning and coordination of MPOs is handled by the Department of Transportation.

Massachusetts Transportation Capital Planning Documents
Acronym Name Responsible agency Horizon
STIP State Transportation Improvement Program DOT 3 years
TIP (Regional) Transportation Improvement Program 13 regional MPOs 3 years
RTP (Regional) Transportation Plan[35] 13 regional MPOs ~25 years, updated every 4 years
PMT Program for Mass Transportation MBTA (by CTPS) 25 years, updated every 5 years
CIP MBTA Capital Improvement Plan MBTA 4–5 years
MBP Massachusetts Bicycle Plan DOT 25 years
UPWP Unified Planning Work Program 13 regional MPOs 1 year
MMS or CMS Mobility Management System or Congestion Management System 13 regional MPOs 4 years?
SRP State Rail Plan State DOT Not specified
State Transportation Improvement Program
Collects all 13 regional TIPs plus statewide projects for state and federal transportation and environmental review. Required for federal funding, financially constrained. Approved by FHWA, FTA, and EPA.[36]
(Regional) Transportation Improvement Program
Approve road and transit projects of regional scale for federal funding based on transportation and environmental criteria. Determine consistency with federal air quality goals. MPO approval required for federal funding; plan must be fiscally constrained. TIP projects come from RTP projects and immediate needs. Each project has an "advocate" agency to oversee planning and implementation, file for federal funding, and provide local funding match.[37]
(Regional) Transportation Plan[38]
Financially unconstrained listings and evaluation of regional road and transit projects. Required for federal funding. Projects are added to the RTP from public input, from CMS/MMS recommendations, and by government agencies. In Boston, transit projects are filtered through the MBTA PMT and two RTAs.[39]
Program for Mass Transportation
Identify and evaluate public transit projects in the MBTA service area. Financially unconstrained. Required by state law.[40]
MBTA Capital Improvement Plan
Actually approve projects for MBTA funding. 100% state and federally funded projects are also noted, as are anticipated federal matching funds subject to outside approval. Fiscally constrained.[41]
Massachusetts Bicycle Plan
Identify bicycle access capital improvement projects, coordinate statewide bicycle policies and programs.[42][43]
Unified Planning Work Program
A list of transportation studies to be conducted by the MPO. Required for federal funding.[44]
Mobility Management System or Congestion Management System
Identify and measure congested corridors; recommend solutions. Required for federal funding.[45][46]
State Rail Plan
Identify rail projects with the best return on investment, fulfill federal requirements.[47][48]

CTPS is the Central Transportation Planning Staff, which is the staff of the Boston MPO and with which the MBTA contracts for planning assistance.

The Highway Division accepts submissions for projects from its district offices and municipalities.[49]

Accelerated Bridge Program

The Accelerated Bridge Program[50] is a bond bill signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in August 2008,[51] a year after the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse put the state's bridges in the spotlight. The $3 billion, 8-year accelerated bridge program will replace and rehabilitate around 270 bridges statewide.[50] 300–500 additional bridges will be preserved to prevent further deterioration.[citation needed] As of September 1, 2015, the program has reduced the number of structurally deficient bridges to 408, from 543 in 2008. The program is paid for using bonds in anticipation of future federal transportation grants to be issued to the state.

The MassDOT has called the Accelerated Bridge Program the "Laboratory of Innovation". Engineers on each project are invited to investigate other options to replace the bridges faster and more efficiently to reopen the bridges to traffic faster. Some of these options for the projects are:

  • Design/build (e.g. I-495 Lowell)
  • Prefabricated girders
  • Prefabricated deck panels (e.g. I-495 Lowell)
  • Prefabricated substructure
  • Heavy lift of a slide-in bridge (e.g. Route 2 Phillipston)
  • Float-in bridge (e.g. Craigie Drawbridge)
  • Modular bridges (e.g. I-93 Medford)
  • "Bridge in a backpack" was used to rebuild a bridge over the Scott Reservoir Outlet in Fitchburg for $890,480.[52] With this technique, lightweight composite tubes are carried into place by several workers on foot (instead of by truck, crane, or heavy equipment) and then the weather-resistant tubes are filled with concrete.[53][54]
  • Bridges constructed in a single phase with traffic detoured (instead of a temporary bridge and multiple phases)

As of September 2015, there were 198 active or completed contracts, including replacement or repair of the following bridges (some of which span multiple contracts):[52]


  1. ^ a b c "Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009 (Section 177)". The 186th General Court of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  2. ^ "Contact Us – MassDOT". Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  3. ^ "Governor Charlie Baker Announces Appointment of Jamey Tesler as Transportation Secretary" (Press release). Massachusetts Department of Transportation. July 28, 2021.
  4. ^ "MassDOT Board of Directors membership". MassDOT. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  5. ^ Rosenberg, Stan; Dempsey, Chris (November 3, 2017). "If we build it, they will come: The case for first class transportation in Massachusetts (Guest viewpoint)". Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  6. ^ "You Move Massachusetts". Archived from the original on October 20, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  7. ^ Lazar, Kay (June 8, 2018). "Despite warning, MassDOT continued toll-free perk for workers, retirees". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  8. ^ "Moving Massachusetts Forward : Massdot" (PDF). September 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 23, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  9. ^ "Moving Massachusetts Forward : Massdot : BAppendix 10.2 – MassDOT Organizational Structure" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 1, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  10. ^ Pazzanese, Christina (September 12, 2009). "A big concern on two major parkways". The Boston Globe. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  11. ^ "Regional Transit Authority Contact Information". Archived from the original on July 8, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  12. ^ "Massachusetts Association of Regional Transit Authorities". Massachusetts Association of Regional Transit Authorities. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
  13. ^ Vineyard Transit. "The Official Site of Vineyard Transit". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  14. ^ "Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, Regional Transit Authorities Coordination and Efficiencies Report" (PDF). Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 27, 2008. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  15. ^ "Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission – Aeronautics". August 10, 2009. Archived from the original on August 10, 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  16. ^ [1] Archived December 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center". July 21, 2011. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  18. ^ "Report as PDF – MassBudget". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  19. ^ (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on July 27, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ Archived from the original on September 27, 2006. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ Archived from the original on January 15, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ [2] Archived December 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Archived from the original on January 16, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ "Montachusett RPC -". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  25. ^ Archived from the original on March 10, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^ "Northern Middlesex Council of Go". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  27. ^ "Central Transportation Planning Staff". Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  28. ^ Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ Archived from the original on September 28, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ "Cape Cod Commission – Home". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  31. ^ Archived from the original on October 6, 2006. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ "FRCOG". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  33. ^ Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. ^ Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ The Boston MPO RTP is titled "Journey to 2030".
  36. ^ Archived from the original on September 22, 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. ^ Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ The Boston MPO RTP is titled "Journey to 2030".
  39. ^ [3][dead link]
  40. ^ Archived from the original on June 22, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  41. ^ RDVO, Inc. "MBTA > About the MBTA > Financials". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  42. ^ "東京都で比較するAGAζ²»η™‚ε°‚ι–€η—…ι™’ – 東京都内で賒くAGAγ‚―γƒͺニックを選ぢ!". Archived from the original on June 14, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  43. ^ "Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan". April 1, 2009. Archived from the original on April 1, 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  44. ^ (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  45. ^ Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  46. ^ (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. ^ "Rail Plan – Transit Division". Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  48. ^ "Massachusetts Department of Transportation Rail Plan" (PDF). Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  49. ^ Archived from the original on December 18, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  50. ^ a b Retrieved January 23, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  51. ^ "Session Law". Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  52. ^ a b "Active Projects September 1, 2015" (PDF). Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  53. ^ "Fitchburg "Bridge-in-a Backpack"".
  54. ^ "'Bridge in a backpack' speeds up state projects". Retrieved April 8, 2018.

Further reading

  • Massachusetts Department of Transportation, hdl:2452/35610. (Various documents)

See also

External links