Se­nate Com­mit­tee Clears Trans­porta­tion Bill $1.3 Bil­lion for Ver­mont Over Six Years

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Wash­ing­ton, DC

The Se­nate pub­lic works com­mit­tee has ad­vanced a six-year, $265 bil­lion trans­porta­tion fund­ing bill that in­cludes al­most $1.3 bil­lion for Ver­mont to main­tain its roads and bridges.

“It is no se­cret that our in­fra­struc­ture needs a lot of work,” said Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.), who helped draft the bill as a mem­ber of the trans­porta­tion sub­com­mit­tee. He cited stud­ies show­ing that 32 per­cent of ma­jor roads in the United States are in poor or medi­ocre con­di­tion and 11 per­cent of all bridges are struc­turally de­fi­cient.

For Ver­mont, the bill adopted by the U.S. Se­nate panel last Thurs­day would pro­vide at least $1.258 bil­lion in federal high­way aid from 2015 through 2020.

While the mea­sure rep­re­sents a ma­jor step for­ward, it still falls short of meet­ing the need. Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Civil En­gi­neers, the rate of spend­ing would have to dou­ble to get the na­tion’s roads and bridges to a “pass­able” con­di­tion by 2028. “We must in­vest much more in in­fra­struc­ture to keep Amer­ica com­pet­i­tive in this global econ­omy,” San­ders said.

The bill in­cludes a San­ders amend­ment that would make Ver­mont el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for additional fund­ing through a new pro­gram to sup­port projects of re­gional or na­tional sig­nif­i­cance. An­other San­ders pro­vi­sion would start the process of cre­at­ing a na­tional net­work of recharg­ing sta­tions for elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

More­over, San­ders noted that the United States has put it­self at an eco­nomic dis­ad­van­tage to other na­tions. The U.S. in­vests less than 2.5 per­cent of its gross do­mes­tic prod­uct each year on in­fra­struc­ture. Europe in­vests twice as much. China in­vests al­most four times the U.S. rate.

In­vest­ments in re­pair­ing crum­bling roads, bridges, rail­roads and other in­fra­struc­ture projects are not only badly needed, they also are one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to cre­ate jobs. Projects funded by the bill will sup­port nearly 2 mil­lion de­cent pay­ing jobs na­tion­wide each year.

“Maybe I am old-fash­ioned, but I think we can im­prove our crum­bling roads and make our bridges safer. We can – and we must – rebuild Amer­ica; to cre­ate the jobs we des­per­ately need and to make our econ­omy stronger. My pri­or­ity is to make sure Ver­mont continues to re­ceive the federal re­sources it needs to im­prove our roads and bridges. This bill does just that.”

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