April 10, 2012

State Leaders Call for Passage of Long-Term Transportation Funding Bill

Providence, RI – Speaking underneath the interchange connecting Route 6 and Route 10 in Providence, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation today joined state and local leaders in calling for passage of legislation to provide federal funding for vital road and bridge projects.  U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline were joined by Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis, and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.

The group called on House Republican leaders to allow a vote on the bipartisan transportation infrastructure bill already approved by the U.S. Senate.  The bill is expected to deliver more than $500 million in federal transportation funding to Rhode Island, supporting roughly 9,000 jobs statewide. 

“The Senate passed a bipartisan transportation bill that will help provide an estimated $515 million over the next two years to improve Rhode Island’s roads and bridges and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.  The state needs to be able to plan for the future.  If the House doesn’t act, projects and jobs could get shut down.  Speaker Boehner should stop stalling and take a vote on the bipartisan Senate measure,” said Reed.

“The Senate’s transportation bill is one of the best investments we can make to create jobs here in Rhode Island,” said Whitehouse.  “As anyone who drives to school or work every day can tell you, too many of our roads and bridges are crumbling.  The House Republicans should act now to provide the funding we need to tackle these important projects and put people back to work.”

“We have a bipartisan bill that supports shared goals, both through its short-term job creation and the transportation infrastructure required to support the businesses that grow our economy,” said Langevin. “Unfortunately, the only principle the House Republican leadership has followed in their approach to this legislation is intransigence, and that needs to change before construction starts being cancelled.”

“From Tiverton to Woonsocket, families are waiting for Washington to create well-paying jobs and put our state back on the right track.  Unfortunately, the House Republican leadership has repeatedly stood in the way of progress and refused to even consider the bipartisan Senate transportation bill,” said Cicilline.  “I applaud the work that Senator Reed and Senator Whitehouse have already done, and I join Congressman Langevin in urging the House leadership to act on this critical legislation.”

“The importance of this project to mobility around Providence is second only to the Iway, but the Route 6 and Route 10 interchange needs a dedicated level of funding before RIDOT can take the first steps,” said RIDOT Director Lewis. “We appreciate the efforts of Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation to secure a long-term transportation funding plan to make projects like this possible.”

“I commend Rhode Island’s entire federal delegation for their efforts to pass a transportation bill that protects and improves our vital infrastructure, in Providence and across the nation,” Providence Mayor Angel Taveras said.  “Major roads and bridges in Providence and Rhode Island are in need of significant repair, and this legislation would put an estimated 9,000 Rhode Islanders to work during these challenging economic times fixing roads and bridges and improving public safety.  That is an investment we can’t afford to miss.”

According to a report by Transportation 4 America, nearly 68 percent of Rhode Island roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition, and 1 in 5 bridges in the state are structurally deficient – the fourth highest of any state.  Among them is the 6/10 connector project.  Nine of the eleven bridges that make up the connector are more than 50 years old, and the total cost of the project is expected to exceed $400 million. 


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