WASHINGTON, DC - Today, after the U.S. Senate voted 74 to 22 to approve a two-year, $109 billion transportation authorization bill, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) praised bipartisan passage of the bill, which will provide Rhode Island with $515 million for transportation enhancements, protect mass-transit, and streamline the review process so local projects can move faster while creating a new set of performance requirements aimed at preventing waste and making sure national goals are met.

Reed also called on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to swiftly move the Senate version of the transportation bill.  The current highway authorization expires at the end of March.

“I am pleased the Senate passed this critical legislation to help ensure Rhode Islanders have safe, affordable, and reliable transportation choices.  Putting people to work upgrading our bridges and roads and modernizing our transit systems is a smart investment.  Our transportation infrastructure is the backbone of our economy, affecting the way we live, work, travel, and do business.  The House should act quickly and give this bipartisan bill the green light,” said Reed.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is projected to receive an average of $227 million a year for highways, roads, and bridges. Last year the state received $226.9 million. Rhode Island will continue to receive more than $3 in federal funding for every dollar paid in federal gas taxes.

Reed also helped author a key portion of the bill that will provide Rhode Island over $30.5 million in federal mass transit funding in 2012, an increase of more than 10% ($3.7 million) over last year.

Reed says he would prefer to extend the bill for five years so that Rhode Island would be able to better plan for long-term transportation investments, but the House bill, which would have reduced Rhode Island’s average annual highway investment by $46 million a year and devastated public transportation by nearly $7 million a year, was a non-starter.

The Senate bill must now be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives before it can be sent to the President to be signed into law.  The House is in recess this week.