Patrick seeks psychiatric hospital funds; $250 million to build on site of aging Worcester facility.


Byline: John J. Monahan

BOSTON - A capital bond bill to be filed by Gov. Deval L. Patrick this week will call for $250 million to build a new psychiatric hospital in Worcester that would replace the aging state hospitals in Worcester and Westboro.

The governor will also seek an increase in proposed bonding for local transportation projects, from $120 million statewide called for in a bond bill that failed last year, to $150 million, which will give cities and towns more money for local road projects.

Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray told the governor's local government advisory board yesterday that the bond bill to be unveiled this week will include the additional $30 million under Chapter 90 transportation funding for cities and towns.

Other sources confirmed yesterday that the governor has decided to also include $250 million for the Worcester psychiatric hospital, long planned for the site of the existing Worcester State Hospital.

The bond bill that failed final approval in the Legislature's regular formal session last July 31 would have provided $231 million for the Worcester hospital project. The higher amount in the governor's new bond bill reflects an expected increase in construction costs.

The funds would provide for a 430,000-square-foot hospital with a capacity for 354 patients, including 60 adolescent patients.

State Sen. Edward M. Augustus Jr., D-Worcester, said the hospital is critical for mental health patients in the central part of the state.

"This is desperately needed by the entire Central Massachusetts mental health system, and it is long overdue," Mr. Augustus said.

"I am glad the administration has recognized early-on the importance of this project and isn't delaying it any longer," he said. The Worcester and Westboro buildings, he said, "are tired" and obsolete.

Funds for the hospital were in bond legislation initially agreed to by both the House and Senate last year.

But support for the legislation collapsed on the last day of formal sessions when the House added almost $700 million in project spending to a $510 million bond bill and returned it to the Senate for consideration in the final hours of the session.

At that point, the Senate refused to approve the bill, in part because while House members had added many new...

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