The state Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis was joined at a news conference Wednesday by Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators in a call for passage of the surface transportation bill, and President Obama’s latest stimulus package with $50 billion for transportation.
The highway behind The Mall at Providence Place carries traffic over an obsolete bridge that is undergirded with planks to protect cars below from falling concrete.
“It is urgent that we get the President’s American Jobs Act,” said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. “That would bring $162 million to Rhode Island for transportation projects, and the state sure could use it. One hundred fifty-five bridges are rated structurally deficient — that’s one out of five.”
“This viaduct is exhibit A, the kind of job that we must do, and we need federal support to do that,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.
Lewis said buses and trains also need to be part of the spending.
“Transportation only works as part of a system. You need buses and trains, and we’re trying to build our capacity there with new stations and improving commuter rail and our city rail system,” he said.