I see everybody’s wondering how the we-must-borrow-money-and-impose-tolls-because-bridges-all-over-the-state-are-about-to-fall-down RhodeWorks program became a let’s-spend-a-lot-of-money-to-put-a-tunnel-under-nothing-on-the-6/10-connector bait and switch.
While having these discussions, I encourage everybody not to forget the map that Governor Gina Raimondo and the Dept. of Transportation produced showing all of the bridges around the state that would be repaired with the new program if legislators would just pass the bill. Take careful notice of the legend. It shows 224 structurally deficient bridges, with 152 marked as “RhodeWorks Bridges,” meaning they’d be fixed, and 7 marked as 6/10 Interchange Bridges. This shows both that RIDOT sold RhodeWorks as a statewide program and that the agency was likely preparing for a pivot to just the 6/10 already last June.
While I’m writing about being wary of legislation, I thought I’d mention H7551, which is scheduled for a vote in the Rhode Island House, this afternoon. Basically, it would give every school department in the state a window for the rest of the fiscal year (i.e., before July 1) during which to borrow as much money as they want in order to capture state building grants… without voter approval, naturally.
How easily promises are broken and protections against government excess are swept away.