R.I. $4.5 billion short in transportation funding
The TRIP report contains lists of needed transportation projects throughout the state that would repair and replace deficient bridges and increase roadway capacity.
However, these projects won’t move forward without additional transportation funding, TRIP says.
Last year’s federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided about $137.1 million in stimulus funding for highway and bridge improvements and $29.6 million for public transit improvements in Rhode Island, according to TRIP.
This funding has served as an important down payment on needed road, highway, bridge and transit improvements but is not sufficient to allow the state to proceed with numerous projects needed to modernize its surface transportation system. The federal surface transportation program, which expires on December 31, 2010, remains a critical source of funding for road and bridge repairs and transit improvements in Rhode Island.
With unemployment in Rhode Island more than doubling from 5.4 percent in August 2007 to 11.8 percent in August 2010, making needed improvements to the state’s roads, highways, bridges and transit could provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs and stimulating long-term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.
“While the state has put a combination of federal and state funds to good use in the past, in the coming years, many additional needed projects will remain stranded on the drawing board because of insufficient funding,” Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP, said in a written statement from the organization. “It is critical that Rhode Island adequately fund its transportation system and that Congress produces a timely and adequately funded federal surface transportation program. Thousands of jobs and the state’s economy are riding on it.”
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