PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s two senators say the Ocean State could see another big influx of federal funding over the coming years if the bipartisan infrastructure package clears Congress.
The $1 trillion measure, hammered out by lawmakers in both parties, is expected to receive a final Senate vote in the coming days. It faces uncertain prospects in the House, where progressive Democrats have said they don’t want to approve the bipartisan bill unless the Senate also votes on a separate $3.5 trillion spending plan that Republicans oppose.
U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse on Thursday released an estimate of what the infrastructure package could mean for Rhode Island, saying their offices think the state could net over $2 billion in funding for transportation and other projects.
“This bill will create jobs and opportunities and modernize America’s infrastructure,” the two Democrats said in a joint statement. “It is long overdue.”
According to the senators’ offices, the bill’s estimated funding for Rhode Island breaks down as:
• $1.5 billion in highway funding
• $277 million for mass transit
• $242 million from a new bridge repair formula
• $45 million for airports
• $23 million for new electric vehicle charging stations.
The bill would also create a new Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program to expand internet connections, with Rhode Island eligible for at least $100 million. Funding for programs to ensure clean water would also be made available.
If the infrastructure package does become law, it would just add to the piles of additional federal money that have been flowing into Rhode Island since the pandemic began, much of which remains unspent.
That includes $1.1 billion in few-strings-attached dollars allocated to Rhode Island under the American Rescue Plan Act that President Biden signed in March. Gov. Dan McKee and legislative leaders have begun discussions about how that money could be spent.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook