New federal money could help RI fix crumbling roads

(Brian Yocono/WPRI)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More federal money could be on the way to help Rhode Island rebuild some of its crumbling roads and bridges.

Gov. Gina Raimondo and members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation talked publicly Monday about a program contained in the new federal highway law that would provide significantly more money to help Rhode Island fix its dilapidated roads.

“We need about $400 million to fix this mess,” Governor Raimondo said, referring to the Route 6/10 Connector where she and the lawmakers held their press conference. Raimondo’s administration has made the replacement of the 6/10 bridges a priority.

The new law signed last week by President Obama, called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, will distribute a total of $305 billion in federal funding to states. Among other measures, it creates a new Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program that can cover up to 80% of the cost of key projects.

“The state will have to compete for it,” U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said about the new program’s funding. “But I promise that we will work very hard to support the state’s application.”

“The idea of designing a program that Rhode Island perfectly qualifies for is another way to create a path and to make sure that we have the resources we need,” Congressman David Cicilline, D-R.I., added.

Raimondo reiterated that the 6/10 Connector has not been fully repaired in decades, and has an estimated cost of $450 million. Her administration has separately proposed tolling large commercial trucks to fund a new bridge-repair program, with much of the money going to the 6/10 project.

“I pledge to you, that my office will work as hard as possible to put Rhode Island in the best position possible to get that,” Raimondo said.

The governor said she plans to apply for the extra federal funding in the spring.

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