New $47.1M Federal Investment Will Upgrade & Strengthen RI Bridges

PROVIDENCE, RI -- As the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) plans out their 2022 construction season, the Ocean State is getting a $47.1 million federal boost for bridge projects this week, thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (P.L. 117-58).

Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced that an additional $47.1 million in federal funds is being wired to the state as a result of the bipartisan infrastructure law they helped pass last November.

To go with this $47.1 million infusion of federal bridge funds this year, Rhode Island will get a projected total of $289,730,682 in base formula funding from the highway portion of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, according to the Congressional delegation.  In addition to fixing roads and bridges, the federal funds will also be invested in community priorities and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the resilience of Rhode Island’s transportation system to climate change and extreme weather.  And the bill also makes additional, significant investments in the state’s airports, transit, and electric vehicle charging networks.

“RIDOT has been making concerted effort over the last several years to reduce the percentage of deficient bridges.  I’ve been pleased to bring more than $160 million additional bridge funding to the state over the last three years to help in that effort.  The $47.1 million bridge funds that will come under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allow RIDOT to tackle even more projects to fix aging bridges that require urgent attention and upgrades.  This federal aid will accelerate bridge upgrades and repairs in Rhode Island.  It will help improve our communities and build new bridges to the future,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, who helped ensure that the bridge funding in the bill went to states with the most need to upgrade structurally deficient bridges.

“Rhode Island drivers know all too well that many of the bridges connecting the Ocean State are in need of significant repair or replacement,” said Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  “Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will deliver a major infusion of funding to modernize those bridges, creating good jobs while making travel safer for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.”

“For years, our roads and bridges have been in desperate need of repair. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, help is finally on the way to bring our aging bridges into the 21st century,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “Soon, millions of dollars in federal funding will be headed to the Ocean State, which will create thousands of good-paying union jobs, and make it safer and easier for Rhode Islanders to travel across our state.”

“Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has already been designated for Rhode Island’s airports, our highways, and the replacement of dangerous lead pipes – ensuring that every Rhode Islander has access to safe and clean drinking water. This latest round of funding will allow us to repair, modernize, and construct new bridges around the state – projects that will support good paying, local jobs and make our roads safer and more efficient,” said Congressman Cicilline.

The federal bridge funding is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

In addition to this guaranteed federal bridge funding, Rhode Island and other states will have the opportunity to vie for a share of $12.5 billion in competitive federal grants from the Bridge Investment Program, as well as a chance to compete for a share of $15 billion for major projects.

All this money flows from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law last year.  Over the life of the law, Rhode Island is estimated to get over $1.7 billion in highway funding, $277 million for mass-transit, $45 million for airports, and $23 million for new electric vehicle charging stations, as well as $100 million to expand high-speed internet coverage and help low-income residents get affordable reliable Internet access.

A recent report by the national transportation research non-profit TRIP found that Rhode Island had the second worst rate of deficient bridges.  According to the report, 12 percent of Rhode Island’s urban interstate bridges were in poor or structurally deficient condition, just after West Virginia's 13 percent.

While this new $47.1 million in federal bridge funding is a boost to the state, the delegation noted that it is important for Republicans to come to the table and help finish the full year 2022 Appropriations process to ensure states can properly plan and access their full allocation of transportation funding.

Currently, the federal government is operating under a short-term stopgap continuing resolution that is set to expire on February 18 unless Congress acts to extend it.

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