Whitehouse Votes to Advance Highway Bill to Invest $1.5 Billion in RI Roads and Bridges
Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act approved by EPW Committee takes initial steps to address climate change
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse yesterday voted to advance to the Senate floor the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021, which would send Rhode Island more than $1.5 billion in federal funding to repair highways, roads, and bridges over five years. The bipartisan legislation was unanimously approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
“I helped craft this federal highway bill to direct more than $1.5 billion to Rhode Island for upgrading our roads, bridges, and highways, and supporting good jobs in the process. I’ll be working to continue to fine tune the bill to maximize its benefits for Rhode Island,” said Whitehouse, a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “Our bipartisan legislation includes initial steps to address climate change, but there is significantly more work to do. We must pass a bill akin to President Biden’s American Jobs Plan to tackle the climate crisis at the scale necessary to hold warming below the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold that scientists warn is a breaking point.”
The Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act authorizes $303.5 billion over five years and represents a 34 percent increase in funding from prior levels of federal highway spending. The legislation creates $18 billion in new programs to address climate change, including $6.4 billion for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and $8.7 billion to increase infrastructure resilience to climate change and extreme weather. It also includes $2.5 billion to create alternative fuel corridors along the National Highway System and build out electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the country.
The Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act will make roads safer and help communities historically left behind and harmed by previous investments in infrastructure. The bill establishes a $500 million pilot program to help reconnect and revitalize areas divided by highway construction that pose barriers to economic development and opportunity. It also prioritizes safety for all road users by expanding funding for safe, accessible pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and boosting funding for projects to benefit tribal communities.
The White House recently gave Rhode Island’s infrastructure a C- rating, citing 148 bridges and more than 860 miles of highway in poor condition. The report estimates that drivers spend an average of $845 annually on costs related to driving on bad roads.
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