Raimondo Releases Tolling Plan for $1.1 Billion RI Infrastructure Investment

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


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As GoLocal first reported on Saturday, tolls on commercial vehicles will be the driving force behind backing the state's infrastructure investment effort to accelerate the reconstruction of bridges and prevent additional bridges from falling into disrepair.

Rhode Island leaders unveiled their "RhodeWorks" plan on Wednesday to address the state's crumbling infrastructure - which includes a $700 million proposed revenue bond with user fees for large commercial vehicles slated to generate the necessary revenue to pay off the bond -- and their plan to seek $400 million in matching federal funds. 

"While deteriorating roads and bridges is a problem nationwide, Rhode Island ranks last for the overall condition of our bridges," said Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. "The longer we wait to address this problem the more expensive it will become to fix. Our RhodeWorks proposal will not only help keep Rhode Islanders safe, but it will also grow our economy, create jobs, save over $1 billion in projected future costs, and make the state a more attractive place for businesses to invest."

According to Raimondo, the plan explicitly prohibits RIDOT from placing a user fee on cars, motorcycles, SUVs, pick-up trucks and small commercial vehicles.

Nuts and Bolts

Raimondo, along with Speaker of the House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed announced the $1.1 billion RhodeWorks plan, along with representatives from business and building trades. 

According to the plan as released, RhodeWorks funds will be used to fix more than 150 structurally deficient bridges and make repairs to another 500 bridges to prevent them from becoming deficient. Under the status quo, Rhode Island will never meet federal standards for its roads and bridges. Under the accelerated plan, Rhode Island is projected to reach 90 percent structural sufficiency of its bridges by 2024.

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As first reported by GoLocal, commercial vehicle tolls are slated to fund a $700 million revenue bond for infrastructure improvements.

Rhode Island ranks 50th out of 50 states in overall bridge condition and has lost 1,200 in the construction sector over the past three months. RhodeWorks is focused on "solving these two problems at once, with the potential to create about 12,000 job-years over the next decade and make the state a more attractive place for businesses," according to Raimondo's office. 

"Our infrastructure is in critical condition, ranking last among the 50 states in the percentage of structurally deficient bridges," said Director for the Department of Transportation Peter Alviti. "The longer we wait, the more expensive these repairs become. By accelerating funding for repairs, our bridges will reach 90 percent structural sufficiency by 2024 and we can save $1 billion by meeting federal highway safety standards earlier."

The RhodeWorks plan includes a proposal to construct an express bus lane as part of the 6/10 interchange reconstruction, and it seeks to attract an additional $400 million in federal matching funds for public transportation. 

"Infrastructure is a critical component of rebuilding our economy and improving our job climate," said House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello. "The proposal by Governor Raimondo is an investment in economic development, while getting people to work in the construction trades. Being ranked at the bottom of states with deficient bridges is a disincentive to businesses looking to locate in our state. The House Finance Committee will hold a public hearing and review the details carefully in the weeks ahead."


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