Gov. Peter Shumlin today the FY 2015 Transportation Bill, which contains the largest investment in transportation infrastructure in state history.
The bill approves $685.7 million in infrastructure improvements and maintenance and supports the Agency of Transportation's (VTrans) vision of a safe, efficient, multimodal transportation system that promotes Vermont's quality of life and economic wellbeing.
Key components of this budget emphasize economic development, safety, preservation and maintenance of the existing transportation system, energy efficient transportation choices, and the continued rebuilding of infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and other recent natural disasters.
"I thank the Legislature for their recognition that a strong economy requires a 21st Century infrastructure," said Gov. Shumlin, who signed the bill at a new bridge project in Morrisville. "I want to acknowledge the good work and leadership exemplified by the Chairs of the Legislature's Transportation Committees in supporting my proposal for record-level investment in Vermont's transportation system.
"This budget makes sound investments in our infrastructure that will grow Vermont jobs not only by directly supporting jobs in the construction industry, but also by supporting other important economic sectors such as tourism, agriculture, hospitality, manufacturing, among others," the Governor said.
"Several successive years of record level investment are yielding positive results," said Transportation Secretary Brian Searles. "We are seeing improved performance in pavement quality and in the condition of our structures. To continue these gains, this transportation bill will advance the repair or replacement of more than 100 bridges, perform preventive maintenance on dozens of structures, and improve more than 375 miles of pavement."
In 2008, Vermont ranked near the bottom of all states -- 45th in the nation -- for numbers of structurally deficient bridges. By 2013, the state ranked 28th. The overall percentage of structurally deficient bridges has declined from 19.7 percent in 2008 to just over 8 percent in 2013. The percentage of pavement rated in very poor condition has declined from a high of 36 percent in 2008 to only 21 percent in 2013.
Mindful of continuing energy challenges and the need to drive down the carbon footprint associated with transportation, this budget invests significantly in all modes, including railroads, public transit systems, airports, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. This budget funds nearly $32 million in public transit, including expanding car and vanpooling, the intercity bus network, and developing electric vehicle charging stations for the regional "Green Highway."
To continue VTrans' vision of boosting tourism and mobility along the western corridor, this budget invests $19 million to improve 10 miles of rail line and make additional corridor improvements to bring us closer to our goal of delivering passenger rail service between Rutland and Burlington. The budget also funds nearly $8 million in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and makes significant investments in our state airports to return them to a state of good repair and to foster public/private partnerships that add jobs in Vermont's growing aviation economy.
"I want to extend a thank you to the Governor and his administration for listening to the concerns of the House Transportation Committee that were being expressed to us by our constituents," said Committee Chairman Patrick Brennan. "We were able to add language and funding to see that class 1 town highways were included in the Fast Fix 14 program."
Sen. Richard Mazza, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said, "I'm very pleased that the Senate supported the Governor's proposed transportation program because this level of investment is necessary to maintain Vermont's competiveness in the global marketplace. We have been moving the needle positively on our performance measurements and this FY15 capital program continues that movement in the right direction."