February 16, 2012

Whitehouse and Reed Introduce Amendment to Fund Transportation Projects

Federal Program Would Fund Projects of Regional Importance

Washington, DC – As the U.S. Senate continues debating legislation to authorize vital federal transportation funding that will support thousands of jobs in Rhode Island, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today filed an amendment to the bill to fund a program specifically targeted toward large-scale infrastructure projects across the country.  The “Projects of National and Regional Significance” program, which could aid in the repair of the I-95 Viaduct in Providence, would make grants available through a competitive process.  Senator Jack Reed cosponsored the amendment.

“We badly need to invest in repairing our infrastructure to keep our economy running efficiently, keep our highways and bridges safe, and generate much-needed jobs,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  “This amendment would provide a new stream of funding to specifically target projects, such as route 95 in Providence, that are vital to our national interest.  I’ll keep fighting to get this done.”

“I support Senator Whitehouse’s amendment to provide additional resources to maintain and improve a number of high-priority roads and bridges,” said Reed.

If passed, the surface transportation measure to which the amendment was offered is expected to support over 8,000 jobs in Rhode Island and provide over $550 million in funding to the state during the two years covered by the bill.

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 Viaduct, which carries I-95 for nearly a quarter mile through downtown Providence – supporting daily travel of over 160,000 vehicles.  The Viaduct was built in 1964 and is badly deteriorated: steel girders have cracked, and wood planks have been installed to prevent concrete from falling on cars and pedestrians that travel below.

Yesterday, Whitehouse spoke to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about the Viaduct project during a Senate Budget Committee hearing, and secured a pledge from the Secretary to visit the Viaduct during his upcoming trip to Providence for an event at Brown University.  Video of Whitehouse’s exchange with LaHood is available here.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921