RI Democrats press for passage of infrastructure bill

Rhode Island Democratic leaders including (from left) Gov. Dan McKee, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Cong. Jim Langevin and Sen. Jack Reed talk with reporters September 13, 2021 at a North Kingstown highway interchange to press for passage of a more than $1 trillion infrastructure package that would accelerate road and bridge improvements here. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

On a highway interchange in North Kingstown Monday, Rhode Island’s governor and three of the state’s four members of Congress, all Democrats, joined union leaders to push for passage of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure package that has already passed in the Senate, and is scheduled for consideration in the U.S. House.

The political leaders made a pitch for the infrastructure bill, which they said would provide more than $1.7 billion over five years for road and bridge improvements in Rhode Island.

“We think that Rhode Island would be guaranteed to receive well over $2 billion from the infrastructure program,” said Senator Jack Reed, along with millions more for public transportation, clean water and other projects.

“It also means savings on car repair,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

“Because our bridges and our roads are in such bad shape that Rhode Islanders are spending $600 every year fixing cars from banging into potholes. So, the more we can fix that, the more it’s money in Rhode Islanders’ pockets directly,” Whitehouse said.

They staged a news conference at the interchange of Routes 4 and 138, backed by members of building and construction trades union members, some wearing hard hats, holding signs reading, “Union Jobs Building America.”

Nearby was the Tower Hill Bridge, which the state says is in need of a $17 million dollar rehabilitation, work that is scheduled for 2025, but could be stepped up if the infrastructure bill passes, said state Director of Transportation Peter Alviti.

“It will allow us to accelerate the projects that are two or three years out, and immediately implement them, like this bridge behind us,” said Alviti.

“We can do this project next year with this new funding and many others just like it, so bring it on,” Alviti said.