RI will get billions of dollars for long overdue capital improvements to transportation, energy, clean water, broadband & more

WASHINGTON, DC – Late last night, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 228-206 to approve a Senate-passed infrastructure bill that will invest a total of $1.2 trillion over the next five years in upgrading the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, railways, ports, water pipes and sewer systems, clean energy grid, and Internet connections.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed the full U.S. Senate back in August, now goes to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a strong supporter of the bill, says it will help drive economic growth and progress for years to come.

“Rhode Islanders want better and safer roads and bridges.  This bill delivers that and more.  It’s an historic investment that will create jobs now, make our state more economically competitive, and help communities thrive.  It’s further proof that the President and Democrats are focused on responding to the real needs of Americans. Rhode Island does very well comparatively under this new law when it comes to roads and bridges.  These investments will also improve highway safety and enhance public transit, passenger and freight rail, ports, airports, and waterways.  This bill also looks to the future and helps us build more resilient, connected communities,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD).  “Now that the House has voted, I hope President Biden will quickly sign the bill into law and we get key projects started as soon as possible.  This historic law will put more Americans to work building a 21st century infrastructure that will benefit Rhode Island and the nation for generations to come.”

Reed estimates that Rhode Island should get over $1.7 billion in highway funding, $277 million for mass-transit, $45 million for airports, and $23 million for new electric vehicle charging stations.  Senator Reed notes these federal funds will help improve road safety, reduce congestion and vehicle emissions, help Americans save fuel, and pave the way for new innovations and investments.

Rhode Island will also receive $100 million to expand high-speed internet coverage and help low-income residents get affordable reliable Internet access. In the digital age it is no longer enough to have limited or slow internet access. Connectivity facilitates education, opportunity, employment and connection.

In addition to federal formula funds that will go directly to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC), and other state entities, Senator Reed also noted that Rhode Island will be able to apply for and receive additional federal funding under a $12.5 billion competitive program for economically significant bridges and a $16 billion program to fund major projects deemed to provide substantial economic benefits.  There’s also $30 billion to make improvements for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor guided by environmental and state input, $8 billion set aside for capital improvement grants that could benefit Rhode Island transit, $7.5 billion for the RAISE Grant program, and $5.25 billion for low and no emissions bus grants.

Senator Reed also notes the bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $55 billion for water infrastructure, which would represent the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure in American history.  Senator Reed estimates that Rhode Island should receive about $377.6 million to strengthen the state’s clean water infrastructure under the bill.

“The investments in this bill will help us build on the progress we’ve made and make critical advancements toward modernizing our electrical grid, water mains, and sewage systems.  It will help replace old lead pipes and deliver clean water.  It will make America more energy-efficient while reducing congestion and pollution and creating new jobs,” emphasized Senator Reed.

The federal funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would provide Rhode Island a big boost toward improving the state’s infrastructure.  Recently the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Rhode Island a C- grade on its infrastructure report card.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Over $370 billion for roads, bridges, and major projects.
  • $90 billion for public transit.
  • $73 billion to upgrade America’s power grid.
  • $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, including a $30 billion set aside for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
  • $65 billion to upgrade America’s broadband infrastructure and bring affordable broadband service to more homes.
  • $55 billion for clean water.
  • $47 billion to address resiliency and protect communities.
  • $25 billion for airports.
  • $21 billion for environmental remediation.
  • $17 billion for ports and waterways.
  • $15 billion for electric vehicles, including $7.5 billion to create a first-ever, national network of charging stations for electric vehicles and billions of dollars for electric buses, including $2.5 billion for zero emission buses and $2.5 billion for low emission busses, and another $2.5 billion for ferries.
  • $11 billion for road safety, including a new Safe Streets for All program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities in their communities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • $1 billion to help reconnect communities that were divided by the interstate highway system.