Delayed Transportation Bill Puts Rhode Island Projects and Jobs On Hold
Projects affect Exeter, Cranston, Johnston, and WesterlyCongressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) admonished House Republicans today and in a speech on the House floor Wednesday afternoon for their continued efforts to delay passage of a long-term transportation funding bill, to the detriment of many job-creating Rhode Island projects.
Langevin has co-sponsored a two-year funding bill that passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support and has urged House Republican leadership for months to bring the bill to a vote, expressing confidence that Republicans could not defeat a measure with so much short- and long-term economic benefit.
Republican Asks EPA To OK Water ContaminationLangevin says instead of focusing on a long-term funding compromise, House Republicans brought forward legislation to benefit the coal industry at the expense of the public's health.
That proposal by Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) calls on the House and Senate conference committee members, who are tasked with producing a compromise bill, to limit federal standards for coal combustion waste. In addition, the motion calls for forcing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recognize certain coal waste disposal sites if they are state-approved, even if the EPA finds they may contaminate a community's drinking water.
"Yet another summer building season is well underway without a long-term transportation bill," said Langevin on the House floor. "And yet here we are, debating the addition of even more non-transportation related measures. Congressman McKinley's Motion to Instruct on coal ash is yet another example of delay. The transportation conferees ought to be urgently completing their work on a long-term authorization, not saddled with extraneous requirements which pose a threat to public health. With thousands of jobs on hold until Congress acts, this delay is unconscionable."
- Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI)
Today's action follows the House vote in March to pass a 90-day funding extension that Langevin says served only to prolong uncertainty for the construction industry, commuters, businesses, and state and local governments. Langevin voted against that bill.
Delayed Funding Will Stop WorkOn Wednesday, Langevin voted for a motion, defeated by House Republicans, to instruct the conference committee members to file their conference report no later than June 22, 2012, 100 days after the Senate passed its legislation.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has stressed that a lapse in federal transportation funding, scheduled to expire at the end of the month, would delay construction of projects statewide, including these examples Langevin brought up on the House floor:
$6.4 million to carry I-95 over Ten Rod Road in Exeter,
$1.5 million for traffic improvements on I-295 ramps along borders of Cranston and Johnston,
$3.5 million to resurface roads in Westerly
Rhode Island Roads In Poor ConditionIn addition, he has worked with other members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation to highlight the unacceptable state of the Route 6/10 connector in Providence, where nine of the 11 bridges are at least 50 years old.
The bipartisan Senate bill, MAP-21, which passed with 74 votes, is expected to deliver more than $500 million in federal transportation funding to Rhode Island, supporting roughly 9,000 jobs statewide.
According to a report by Transportation 4 America, nearly 68 percent of Rhode Island roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition, and 1 in 5 bridges in the state are structurally deficient - the fourth highest of any state.
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