07.30.19

Whitehouse Helps Pass Out of Committee $287 Billion Infrastructure Bill That Would Send $1.44 Billion to RI

Bridge Investment Act included in bill could help ease backlog of structurally deficient bridges in RI

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has helped pass out of the Environment and Public Works Committee a five-year $287 billion highway package that would make a $1.44 billion investment in Rhode Island’s infrastructure.  The legislation includes provisions to improve road safety, grow the economy, create jobs, and protect the environment.  Today’s committee vote follows an announcement last week by Rhode Island’s congressional delegation that the Ocean State was awarded a $60.3 million federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant, or INFRA grant, to replace and upgrade the Northbound Providence Viaduct on I-95. 

“In Rhode Island and around the country, we have thousands of important bridge projects ready to create jobs and boost the economy.  Let’s do them,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.  “This funding will address the backlog of local bridge repairs while creating jobs for Rhode Islanders.  On top of the $60 million Rhode Island just received from my INFRA program for the Providence Viaduct, this promises real support for Rhode Island infrastructure and jobs.”

The package passed out of the Committee today also includes $3.26 billion to fund the bipartisan Bridge Investment Act sponsored by Whitehouse.  The Bridge Investment Act establishes a competitive grant program to assist with the repair and replacement of structurally deficient bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog.  The legislation requires projects funded through the program to use American-made steel and iron.  The Bridge Investment Act is also sponsored by Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Ed Markey (D-MA). 

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association estimates it would take more than 80 years to repair the thousands of structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. at the current pace.  Approximately 23 percent of Rhode Island’s 780 bridges are structurally deficient – the highest share in the nation.

Other Whitehouse Priorities in Highway Bill

  • INFRA Grant Program – Fund for large-scale infrastructure projects reauthorized with $5.5 billion over five years.  Whitehouse designed the INFRA Grant Program to meet Rhode Island’s need for funding to tackle large-scale infrastructure projects like the Northbound Providence Viaduct.
  • Resiliency Grants and At-Risk Coastal Infrastructure Program – $200 million annually for climate resiliency grants, including funding designated for coastal infrastructure.  Grants will also support broader resiliency goals, planning, and evacuation route safety. 
  • Port Electrification – $370 million over five years for a new grant program that would provide funding for electrifying port operations and reducing emissions.
  • Carbon Reduction Incentives Program – $3 billion over five years to help states invest in reducing transportation sector emissions. 
  • Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles – $1 billion over five years for funding to install electric vehicle charging stations and hydrogen fueling infrastructure along designated corridors.  Several electric vehicle corridors, including major highways, have been designated throughout New England.      
  • Bicyclist and Transportation Alternatives Program – Bolstered funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program to support the expansion of pedestrian and bicycle options.

The highway bill awaits consideration by the full Senate.

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