Rhode Island lawmakers press for new federal program to repair bridges
Two Rhode Island congressmen want to create a federal grant program to repair and replace deteriorating bridges.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said last week they’ve reintroduced the Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges Act.
It would authorize $2.75 billion annually through fiscal year 2025 to establish a grant program for states to rehabilitate and replace bridges in poor condition.
It’s co-sponsored in the House by New Hampshire Democratic Reps. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster. New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is leading the Senate effort, with bill co-sponsors from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Maine.
Langevin and Whitehouse say fixing bridges protects the public’s safety and creates jobs. They expect Rhode Island would receive nearly $50 million annually in additional highway money, based on current bridge health.
The Globe reported last week that the American Road and Transportation Builders Association found 23.1 percent of bridges in Rhode Island were structurally deficient in 2018 — higher than any other state. Rhode Island has identified needed repairs on 721 bridges, including 27 on the Interstate Highway System, at an estimated cost of $1.8 billion.