A state Senate committee voted Tuesday to create a new Rhode Island infrastructure fund that would eliminate tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. As Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis reports, the bill faces several hurdles to take effect.
The legislation unanimously passed by the Senate Finance Committee would generate 800 million dollars over 10 years for keeping up roads and bridges. Senate President Teresa Pavia Weed calls the bill a long-term approach, starting next year, for improving the state’s decaying infrastructure.
The public has a chance to weigh in Friday on a slate of proposed transportation projects that will be paid for out of a new fund
The new fund helps cities and towns access low-interest loans for road construction projects. It’s modeled after the state’s Clean Water Finance Authority, which over the past 15 years has loaned out $1 billion for municipal sewage treatment projects. In fact, the Clean Water Finance Authority will administer this new transportation fund.
Rhode Island has one of the highest rates of spending per mile on its roads and bridges. Yet a new report says our highway system is the second worst in the country. The 20th annual Highway Report was published by the Reason Foundation, a Libertarian think tank.
Rhode Island’s roads and bridges are ranked 49th in the nation – with one being the best, according to the Reason Foundation. Only Alaska has a worse highway system than the Ocean State, the group found.
Rhode Island cities and towns would have access to low-interest loans for road and bridge repairs under a bill unveiled Thursday by House Speaker Gordon Fox and state Treasurer Gina Raimondo. It’s being sold as a way to jump start the state’s sluggish construction trade.