Group to Address Future of Transportation Funding over Next 4-5 Years
In recognition of an increasingly serious reduction in highway funding and an aging transportation infrastructure in critical need of repair or replacement, Governor Donald L. Carcieri today announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Panel designed to tackle transportation funding over the next four to five years. The 12 member group of stakeholders will assess Rhode Island’s transportation needs and identify potential funding sources.
“Developing and maintaining a 21st century transportation system is crucial to our ongoing efforts to fuel our economy and enhance our quality of life,” Governor Carcieri said. “Unfortunately, Rhode Island’s roads and bridges are aging and deteriorating. In fact, the majority of our most heavily traveled roads and bridges were built between the 1950s and the 1970s. That means that we are facing a period where we must undergo major highway and bridge repair in Rhode Island. We have concerns about future reductions in federal highway spending.”
“As is the case in states throughout our nation, Rhode Island’s transportation needs far outweigh available resources,” Carcieri continued. “With a projected deficit of the federal highway trust fund in 2009, there is a national concern that the federal government will reduce transportation funding to all states. We could see a 30 to 40 percent decrease in federal transportation funding. If that happens, Rhode Island could stand to lose $60 to 70 million in transportation funding each year.”
“Additionally, the Department of Transportation has reexamined the condition of our bridges and prioritized projects for the next 5 years,” Carcieri said. “During this timeframe, we’ll have approximately $600 million in bridge repair and replacement projects. Unfortunately, our current revenue streams will not provide the funds we need. Unless we take measures now, many of the highway projects that we’ve committed to will be delayed. That’s why it is imperative that we address this pressing issue by reviewing transportation priorities, identifying funding strategies and creating a balanced approach for investing in our infrastructure.”
“Today I am establishing a Blue Ribbon Panel for Transportation Funding which will be headed-up by Jerry Williams,” the Governor said. “After his transition to DOA, Jerry will remain and work with new DOT Director Mike Lewis on this panel. It will be charged with evaluating our transportation needs and providing options to address transportation funding for Rhode Island. This broad group of stakeholders will also review current available federal and state transportation funding and propose new funding mechanisms.”
“Finally, I want to thank Jerry for all his great work and his many accomplishments at the Department of Transportation over the last year,” Governor Carcieri concluded. “I also want to thank him for developing and agreeing to head up this important initiative.”
The panel will be tasked with investigating the state’s aging transportation infrastructure, the significant number of priority one projects that are needed to maintain the infrastructure and the available funding / shortfall of funding to accommodate Rhode Island’s needs. The group will also explore the extent of federal funding and the prognosis of future funding given the current condition of the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Finally, the panel will assess options for future funding at the state level to either make up some of the decreased federal funding or provide a larger match if federal funding is increased.
“The intent is to have the panel work together for 6 months, said Jerome F. Williams, RIDOT’s Director. “RIDOT staff will support the group and will continue to reach out to both Federal Highway and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for the latest information associated with this important financing issue.”
The 12-person Blue Ribbon Panel for Transportation Funding includes: Jerome Williams, RIDOT; Lloyd Albert, AAA; Bob Cusak, Investment Firm; John Gregory, Northern RI Chamber of Commerce; Maureen Gurghigian, First SW Securities; Michael Lewis, RIDOT; Peter Osborn, FHWA; Gary Sasse, Dept. of Revenue; Bill Sequino, East Greenwich Town Manager; John Simmons, RIPEC; Keith Stokes, Newport Chamber of Commerce; and Bob Weygand, URI.
DOT Contact: Dana Alexander Nolfe, (401) 222-1362, ext. 4450