PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — Less than 24 hours after laying out his vision for Rhode Island’s future during his first State of the State address, Gov. Dan McKee unveiled plans to accelerate 100 infrastructure projects and fund a series of initiatives aimed a combatting climate change.
McKee, alongside R.I. Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti, emphasized the importance of prioritizing infrastructure during a media briefing Wednesday.
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The governor said the major investment – made possible by federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – will rehabilitate deteriorating bridges, reduce carbon emissions, increase system resilience, remove barriers to connecting communities and improve mobility and access to economic opportunity.
“Rhode Island is ready to put these dollars to work and the good news is – we have a plan to do it quickly,” McKee said.
Among the projects, according to McKee, are 22 that include bike path infrastructure improvements, 63 with pedestrian walkway features, 86 that make roads and walkways safer, and 87 that will enhance storm water quality.
“With these new funds, we are renewing and strengthening our commitment to improve not only the condition of our infrastructure, but also the resiliency,” Alviti said. “We will enhance our commitment to alternate modes of transportation and carbon reduction initiatives. We are going to be more mindful of our effect on the environment and do our best to reduce emissions wherever and whenever we can.”
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In addition, McKee said he plans to invest $150 million in federal funding to combat climate change.
“Rhode Island is a national leader in clean energy innovation and we must harness the historic opportunity before us by capitalizing on our state’s solid foundation in these sectors,” McKee said. “Our multi-agency team is committed to making additional investments to improve the quality of our air and water, protect greenspace, ensure equitable shoreline access, and expand access to affordable and sustainable clean energy solutions.”
“Slashing greenhouse gasses is not just the right thing to do for the environment – it is also the right thing to do for our economy,” he added.
McKee’s plan includes spending $95 million to improve two ports and support the development of offshore wind energy. It also proposes spending $23 million to expand the state’s network of electric vehicle charging stations, and $37 million to reduce the costs of installing efficient electric heat pumps.
The plan, funded in large part through federal coronavirus stimulus money and President Biden’s infrastructure bill, would help the economy, according to McKee.
Another $6 million per year would go toward the state climate council to fund planning and policy development and help the state meet its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Additionally, McKee proposed a $24 million bond issue to help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change, fund clean energy programs, and conserve forests.