Langevin, Whitehouse Reintroduce Bill to Fix Rhode Island’s Aging Bridges

Jun 5, 2019 Issues: Rhode Island, Transportation

WASHINGTON Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have reintroduced the Strengthen and Fortify Existing (SAFE) Bridges Act, which would create a new federal grant program to repair and replace bridges in poor condition.

In its 2019 Bridge Report, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) identified more than 47,000 bridges as being “structurally deficient”. The report finds that Rhode Island has a higher proportion of structurally deficient bridges than any other state. Twenty-three percent of the state’s bridges - 180 bridges in total - fall in this category. For comparison, forty two states have deficiency rates that are less than half that of Rhode Island.

“Rhode Island’s infrastructure has significantly improved under Governor Raimondo’s leadership. However, our state still ranks dead last when it to comes to bridge condition,” said Langevin. “Increased federal support is desperately needed if we are to finally address the poor condition of our bridges. Senator Whitehouse and my SAFE Bridges Act will provide Rhode Island with the resources it needs to address this urgent public safety issue.”

“I’m proud to partner with Congressman Langevin on this proposal to create a new reliable stream of funding for rebuilding Rhode Island’s deteriorated bridges,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “It’s long past time we clear the Ocean State’s backlog of crumbling bridges to protect the public’s safety and create good jobs in the process.”

“I thank Congressman Langevin and Senator Whitehouse for introducing this critically-needed legislation,” said Michael Sabitoni, President of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council. “The SAFE Bridges Act will help our state repair its crumbling bridges and create good, high-paying jobs for Rhode Island tradesmen and women in the process.”

The SAFE Bridges Act authorizes $2.75 billion a year through Fiscal Year 2025 to establish a formula grant program for states to rehabilitate and replace bridges in poor condition. The formula is needs-based and allocates funding to states according to their respective share of the nation’s poor condition bridges. Based on current bridge health, Rhode Island would be expected to receive nearly $50 million per year in additional highway money.

The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) in the House. In the Senate, the bill is led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and also cosponsored by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Angus King (I-ME).

Text of the SAFE Bridges Act.