Legislation approved today just before Saturday's expiration of funding for transportation projects will ensure that dozens of necessary repairs and improvements to Rhode Island's infrastructure can happen this year. Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), who for months has implored House Republicans to agree to a long-term solution, helped the House pass H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act, which authorizes two years of funding with measures similar to a bipartisan Senate bill that he had supported. The Senate passed its previous version, MAP-21, with 74 votes more than 100 days ago. It was estimated to deliver more than $500 million in federal transportation funding to Rhode Island, supporting roughly 9,000 jobs statewide. H.R. 4348 is fully paid for.
Among the Rhode Island transportation projects no longer at risk of being cut are:
More than $2 million in improvements to the Barton Corner Bridge (I-95 over Route 2) affecting Warwick, West Warwick and East Greenwich;
$1.5 million in traffic improvements to I-295 ramps along the Cranston/Johnston border;
$1 million for the resurfacing of Post Road in Warwick from South Atlantic Avenue to Warwick Avenue;
$3.5 million for the resurfacing of Elm Street and Beach Street in Westerly; and
$1.6 million for Matunuck Beach Road Stabilization in South Kingstown.
"Today's passage is especially good news for Rhode Island, where the conditions of our roads and bridges are among the worst in the country," said Langevin. "Thirty-six projects across the state listed by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation as at risk will now be able to move forward, including construction affecting Cranston, East Greenwich, Johnston, Providence, South Kingstown, Warwick, West Warwick and Westerly.
"I am relieved that we have finally had the opportunity to vote on long-term infrastructure legislation after 17-months of House Republican-imposed, short-term extensions. These delays resulted in numerous furloughed projects, and endangered job-creating investments to repair our crumbling roads and bridges. This two-year bill ends the uncertainty that has plagued state and local governments, commuters, and businesses, while providing some much needed work for our construction industry, which is facing a 14 percent unemployment rate. While supporting jobs in the short-term, this legislation allows us to move forward with improvements necessary to build a 21st century infrastructure needed by businesses that grow our economy."