September 28, 2015

Whitehouse & Rhode Island Business Leaders Discuss Need to Pass Highway Funding Bill

Providence, RI – With federal road and bridge funding set to expire at the end of October, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce hosted U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Rhode Island business leaders for a roundtable discussion today on the need to pass a long-term highway funding bill. 

“The message today from the U.S. Chamber and these Rhode Island businesses was clear: we need to fix our roads and bridges.  I couldn’t agree more,” said Whitehouse, who played a major role in crafting the bipartisan, six-year highway funding bill that passed the Senate in late July.  “Businesses depend on our roads and bridges to get their goods and services to market, and our state depends heavily on federal funding to maintain that infrastructure.  It’s time to pass a long-term federal highway bill – like the one we passed in the Senate – to promote jobs and grow our economy here in Rhode Island.  House Republicans need to listen to our business community and pass a good, long-term funding bill.”

The federal highway trust fund will stop reimbursing states for highway projects if Congress fails to pass a funding measure by October 29.  A highway funding shortfall would have particularly harmful effects for Rhode Island—the state depends on federal funding for roughly two out of every three dollars it spends on its highway infrastructure. 

“We thank Senator Whitehouse, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Rhode Island business leaders for coming to the Chamber to discuss the need and urgency to pass long-term federal highway funding legislation,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “Transportation infrastructure investments are key to Rhode Island’s long-term economic competitiveness and business attraction efforts. Without a sustainable funding source, we risk major cuts to federal highway and transit resources or even a potential halt of the entire federal transportation program, which would jeopardize economic and job growth. We need to ensure the viability of this critical component of the nation’s and our state’s economy.”

According to a report compiled last year by the White House, Rhode Island had the highest percentage of deficient or obsolete bridges in America and was tied for the highest percentage of roads in poor condition.  According to the transportation research group TRIP, driving on roads in need of repair costs Rhode Island motorists $478 million a year – $637 per motorist – in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921