April 10, 2017

Whitehouse, Reed, Langevin, Avedisian Highlight Coastal Infrastructure Needs

Whitehouse’s National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund designed to make roads, bridges more resilient

Warwick, RI – U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, Congressman Jim Langevin, and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian today joined statewide planning and public safety officials at Conimicut Point Park in Warwick to call for increased federal investment in Rhode Island’s coastal infrastructure.  In the event of a 100-year storm, projections by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council show the sole access road to Warwick Neck would be underwater, effectively turning the neighborhood into a temporary island.

“Rhode Island’s infrastructure needs a lot of investment to get back to a healthy state, let alone to prepare for rising seas and increasingly severe weather,” said Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  “We are the Ocean State, and our way of life and economy rely on critical infrastructure in coastal communities like Warwick.  Investing in infrastructure is a bipartisan issue, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues and the administration to create jobs, ensure safe roads, protect our communities, and lift the economy.”

“There is bipartisan consensus that our roads and bridges, our sewer and drinking water systems, our dams and levees; our transit systems, railroads and airports and our coastal communities, all are in need of investment,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.  “We have the programs in place to effectively deploy funding at the state and local level to help address these needs.  We need the President to work with us to put real money into them.”

President Trump has repeatedly called for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending.  In January, Senate Democrats proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement blueprint, which would rebuild and reinforce infrastructure while creating jobs in Rhode Island and across the country.  The blueprint contains $25 billion for upgrades to make communities more resilient to natural disasters and climate change, including funding for the Whitehouse-authored National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund.

“Rhode Island’s infrastructure is in desperate need of repairs, particularly in areas affected by severe flooding brought on by extreme weather events,” said Congressman Langevin.  “I applaud Senator Whitehouse for his efforts to make the roads and bridges in our coastal communities more resilient, and I look forward to working with all of my Congressional colleagues to pass comprehensive legislation that will help rebuild our infrastructure, create jobs and invest in the long-term economic future of our state.”

The National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund was designed to support research, restoration, and resiliency of coastal ecosystems and communities, including readying coastal roads and bridges for sea level rise and severe weather.  Rhode Island has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges of any state, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

“As a coastal community with more than 39 miles of coastline we fully understand the importance of safe and secure infrastructure in our city and throughout the state,” said Mayor Avedisian. “I fully support Senator Whitehouse’s work as he aims to bring national attention to some of our most dire roadways and bridges across the state. As the Senator, along with his Congressional colleagues, work to pass legislation, it is my sincere hope that with potential funding we are able to make smart, long-term investments into our infrastructure and ultimately the future wellbeing of our communities.”

Fixing Rhode Island’s crumbling infrastructure and creating jobs has long been a top priority for Whitehouse.  As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Whitehouse helped author legislation that boosted highway and transit funding for Rhode Island, bringing the state over $1.3 billion in federal funds between 2016 and 2020.  Whitehouse also had a key role in creating the FASTLANE Grant Program, which is authorized to provide $4.5 billion in funding for transformative freight and highway projects. 


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921