May 15, 2017

Whitehouse, Langevin Highlight Bill to Invest $170 Million in Fixing RI Bridges, Creating Jobs

Legislation would help clear backlog of structurally deficient bridges in the Ocean State

West Warwick, RI – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Jim Langevin today joined with state, town, and labor officials by the Factory Bridge in West Warwick to call on Congress to pass the Strengthen and Fortify Existing (SAFE) Bridges Act.  The SAFE Bridges Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Whitehouse, and others last month and will be introduced in the House this week by Langevin.  The bill would deliver up to $170 million to repair Rhode Island’s deficient and crumbling bridges and create construction jobs. 

“Upgrading America’s decaying bridges is a smart long-term investment in our economy and will create good jobs in the short term,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  “Important infrastructure like the Factory Bridge should be repaired long before becoming a safety hazard.  Governor Raimondo and her Department of Transportation are working hard to fix Rhode Island’s bridges, and this bill would bring additional federal funding to accelerate bridge repairs across the state.”

“It is unacceptable that Rhode Island’s highway bridges are rated the worst in the nation.  While the state has begun to repair the bridges most in need, the federal government must do more to help,” Congressman Langevin said.  “Using a needs-based formula, the SAFE Bridges Act will bring federal dollars where they’re needed most to repair structurally deficient bridges.  This bill is an important contribution to what should be a bipartisan effort to rebuild our nation’s aging infrastructure.”

The SAFE Bridges Act would authorize an additional $2.75 billion annually through fiscal year 2020 to enable states to help repair and replace the more than 56,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.  The bill would use a needs-based formula to provide states with funding proportional to their share of the nation’s deficient bridges.  The American Society of Civil Engineers recently reported that about a quarter of Rhode Island’s bridges are structurally deficient. 

“I commend Senator Whitehouse and Congressman Langevin for their efforts to improve our roads and bridges,” said Scott Duhamel, Secretary Treasurer of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council.  “This legislation would create good, prevailing wage jobs and accelerate much-needed repairs to make Rhode Island bridges safer.”

There have been no significant alterations to the Factory Bridge, which spans the Pawtuxet River, since it was built in 1956.  The Factory Bridge is currently slated for repairs in fiscal years 2021 and 2022, according to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Angus King (I-ME) also cosponsored the SAFE Bridges Act in the Senate.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921