Langevin, Cicilline, Johnson, Introduce Stopgap Measure to Continue Transportation Projects During the Pandemic

Thursday, September 17, 2020

WASHINGTON Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI), David Cicilline (D-RI), and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), have introduced the Highways Coronavirus Relief Act, bipartisan legislation to temporarily increase the amount the federal government contributes to federal highway projects. The bill aims to ensure states, which generally pay for a portion of projects backed by the federal highway trust fund, can continue major infrastructure improvements as they attempt to deal with budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Robust federal infrastructure investments help revitalize the economy and improve quality of life,” said Langevin. “As states continue to face steep fiscal challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must keep transportation projects moving forward to support good-paying jobs for local workers and build the foundation for Rhode Island’s future. This legislation will provide the federal resources states need to keep critical construction activities going for the immediate future as we continue to press for broader aid for states.”

“Improving and modernizing our infrastructure is a critical priority,” said Cicilline. “This bill will help create jobs in our state. I am proud to co-sponsor it and to continue working to rebuild our roads, bridges, and schools.”

“Prior to COVID-19 our nation’s infrastructure wasn’t in great shape,” said Johnson. “With state government’s seeing less revenue because of the pandemic that means fewer dollars for necessary infrastructure projects. We can’t allow our state highways and roads to get further behind – this legislation would help us stay on top of our nation’s infrastructure projects. I’m proud to help lead this effort along with Representative Langevin.”

Rhode Island’s state share of federal formula grant transportation projects generally amounts to $45 million a year. By temporarily removing the requirement for states to provide matching funds for active construction projects, Rhode Island and other states will be able to continue their infrastructure improvements despite the fiscal challenges brought on by the pandemic. Highway improvements encompass a range of projects from the replacement, repair and painting of bridges, to road paving, maintenance, and other road safety enhancements and operational upgrades.

“RIDOT applauds the vision this bill shows and its understanding of the precarious nature of our funding situation,” said Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti. “Right now, RIDOT faces a future where it may not be able to meet the state match required for millions of federal dollars the department has attracted in both discretionary and formula funds. This bill will provide the vital resources we need to continuing rebuilding our bridges and keep many Rhode Islanders employed through this crisis.”

Upon enactment, the legislation would apply to existing and unliquidated formula grant obligations and those made after its enactment through September 30, 2021.

Full text of bill.

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