May 5, 2015

Whitehouse Calls for Long-Term Highway Funding Plan

In Speech on Senate Floor, RI Senator Slams GOP Budget for Ignoring Highway Needs while Protecting Tax Loopholes for the Wealthy

Washington, DC – With federal highway funding set to expire at the end of this month unless Congress acts, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) took to the Senate floor today to call for a serious bipartisan effort to avert a funding crisis.  Whitehouse’s speech took Republicans to task for failing to provide new highway funding through their budget proposal, and highlighted the urgent need to invest in Rhode Island roads and bridges.

Video of Whitehouse’s remarks is available here.

“We are an historic and densely-populated state.  We have aging and heavily-used infrastructure.  Lots of our bridges and roads are in poor condition,” Whitehouse said.  “One study found that the average motorist in Rhode Island pays an extra $637 per year for car repairs and operating costs because of potholes, bumps and other bad road conditions… This shouldn’t be that difficult: [Republicans] could start by looking at the bipartisan six-year highway bill approved last year in the Environment and Public Works Committee.  That bill would have provided the certainty that our state departments of transportation need to plan for the big, multi-year, job-creating projects that our years of deferred maintenance have brought due.”

He concluded, “I hope that my friends on the other side of the aisle will begin to work with Democrats on addressing with some semblance of bipartisanship our constituents’ needs in that regard.  With funding set to expire in just a few weeks, and with no Republican plan on the horizon to address it, we should begin with a bipartisan conversation about a long-term highway bill.”

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.  The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has indicated that it needs a long-term funding bill to provide fiscal certainty to take on big projects like replacing the aging 6-10 connector in Providence.


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