June 6, 2007

Funding Fix for URI Transportation Center Passes Senate Committee, Reed and Whitehouse Announce

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee has approved legislation that will make it easier for the University of Rhode Island Transportation Center (URITC) to receive critically-needed federal funding, Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators announced today.

Established in 1999, URITC conducts multi-disciplinary education, research, technology transfer, and outreach for surface transportation systems and advanced transportation infrastructure. Under its original authorization, the center received an average of $1.6 million in federal funding, which it was required to match. When URITC was reauthorized in 2003 by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA), it was assigned a different designation and now receives $500,000, but current law still forces the center to continue to provide $1.6 million in matching funds in order to receive its federal award.

Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed (D) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D) wrote in April to Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chairman and ranking member of the EPW committee, asking for a technical correction that would require centers like URITC to be required to match only the amount of the award provided under SAFETEA.

Whitehouse serves on the EPW Committee, which today voted to approve legislation that includes this technical fix for URITC. The measure now goes before the full Senate.

“URI’s Transportation Center is a leader in research and training students to work with new transportation technologies,” said Senator Reed. “I am pleased the committee approved this measure to provide URI with greater flexibility over its finances. I applaud Senator Whitehouse for passing this initiative through the Environment and Public Works Committee and will work with him to ensure it becomes law.”

“From the new Jamestown bridge to the relocation of I-195, Rhode Islanders can see our transportation system at work – and we’re proud that URITC is helping to make that system work better,” Senator Whitehouse said. “I will continue to work with my senior senator, Jack Reed, to ensure that a technicality doesn’t stand in the way.”


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