08.05.21

Reed & Whitehouse Outline Funds for RI in Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

Senators says RI should net over $2 billion for transportation and mass-transit network, clean water, broadband, renewable energy, & more

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Senate is debating a bipartisan infrastructure bill this week that includes several key provisions championed and supported by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse to upgrade our transportation network, enhance public transit, invest in clean water and replace aging lead pipes and service lines.

Overall, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes over $550 billion in new spending to repair, rebuild, and enhance roads, bridges, highways, water infrastructure, broadband, clean energy, and environmental remediation.

Reed and Whitehouse say over the next five years Rhode Island will receive about $1.5 billion in highway funding, $242 million from a new bridge repair formula, $277 million for mass-transit, and $23 million for new electric vehicle charging stations. Rhode Island’s airports should also receive over $45 million.

“This bill will create jobs and opportunities and modernize America’s infrastructure. It is long overdue. By investing in America’s roads, bridges, rail service, public transportation, clean water, electric vehicle charging and broadband infrastructure, we are connecting people, businesses, and communities to new opportunities and building a brighter future for all,” said Senators Reed and Whitehouse in a joint statement.

Overall, the Senators noted the bill provides $284 billion in new federal investments to upgrade America’s transportation infrastructure, including:

• $110 billion for roads, bridges, and major transportation projects, including $40 billion of new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. The bill also includes around $16 billion for major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs but will deliver significant economic benefits to communities.

• $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, including a $30 billion set aside for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

• $39 billion for public transit.

• $25 billion for airports.

• $17 billion for ports and waterways.

• $15 billion for electric vehicles, including $7.5 billion to create a first-ever, national network of charging stations for electric vehicles and billions of dollars for electric buses, including $2.5 billion for zero emission buses and $2.5 billion for low emission busses, and another $2.5 billion for ferries.

• $11 billion for road safety, including a new Safe Streets for All program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities in their communities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians.

• $1 billion to help reconnect communities that were divided by the interstate highway system.

It also includes $65 billion to upgrade America’s broadband infrastructure and bring affordable broadband service to more homes. $42.45 billion of this funding will be set aside for a new Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program to bring broadband Internet access to areas that are underserved and help those who have access to the web afford their connections. Rhode Island will receive at least $100 million under the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program. The state may distribute these federal funds to non-profits, public-private partnerships, private companies, utilities and local governments to ensure every Rhode Islander has access to reliable high-speed internet.

An additional $55 billion is set aside for clean water infrastructure, including a program that seeks to replace every lead pipe in America. It also includes funds for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund that Rhode island can use to either award grants or forgive loans for water projects. A separate $10 billion pot is available specifically for communities to address PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl), 1,4-Dioxane, and other contaminants. And additional funding is available for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to support wastewater projects.

The U.S. Senate voted 67-32 last Wednesday to advance the legislation for consideration. It will need 60 or more votes to pass a final vote and must then be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives before it can be sent to the President to be signed into law.