Federal Highway Trust

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Every Rhode Islander knows our state’s roads and bridges need repairs. Yet lawmakers closed up shop at the General Assembly without taking action on a plan to raise the money via truck tolls. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what the General Assembly needs to do to pay for the needed fixes.

Despite six collegial months, the General Assembly did not have a happy ending. The 2015 session crashed and amid the usual Smith Hill blame game. Several big issues were left without resolution, notably a plan to shore up the state’s aging bridges and roads.

RIPR FILE

Lawmakers are running out of time to shore up money for the Federal Highway Trust Fund. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is helping spearhead efforts.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The Federal Highway Trust Fund is struggling to stay afloat in the face of dwindling funds and partisan gridlock in Washington.  That means the federal government will delay reimbursing Rhode Island and other states for transportation projects starting August 1st.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said states will face a 28 percent drop in federal funding for road repairs, maintenance, and infrastructure developments.  Foxx met with the Rhode Island congressional delegation to discuss the challenge, and didn't mince words when he spoke at the Statehouse.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for a weekly business segment we're calling "The Bottom Line." Each Friday they look at business news and themes that affect local business and the public.

This week Dave and Mark talk with Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis. They not only discuss why ridership is light on the commuter rail line south of Providence. Director Lewis also talks about the federal highway trust that’s expected to run dry by next year. It’s the state’s only source of transportation funding.