A package of bills focused on transportation and road maintenance is expected to be delivered in Rhode Island.

Four transportation bills to be introduced in Rhode Island Senate

(The Center Square) – A package of bills focused on transportation and road maintenance is expected to be delivered Thursday in Rhode Island.

Led by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, D-North Providence, four bills will be filed that place greater focus on more creative road repair processes, assisting municipalities with repairing city and town streets, and improving service and oversight of transit while preparing for increased usage of electric vehicles.

Democratic senators Robert Brito, D-Providence; Samuel D. Zurier, D-Providence; and Frank Lombardo III, D-Johnston, will be filing legislation designed to improve roadways in the state, according to a release.

Britto’s bill is designed to better situate projects in a manner that roadways won’t be “dug up multiple times” and calls for utilities to coordinate with the state’s Department of Transportation to create comprehensive plans that are in line with already planned state and utility projects, the release reads.

“Too often, we see examples of a newly repaved roadway being dug up again because of an unrelated utility project,” Britto said in a statement. “This is not only an inconvenience to local businesses, residents, and motorists. It is also an extremely inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

The bill, which would be known as the Utility Repair Act, would call for utility companies to signal immediate and longer-term needs and schedule projects with state projects in the same areas, according to a release. The bill would prevent utility companies from passing on costs to ratepayers.

Zurier’s bill would grant state assistance to municipal road repairs under a set of guidelines. Under the bill, if enacted, the Rhode Island Municipal Transportation Infrastructure Program would be created, according to a release. The program would provide funding through grants that would be used to repair roads, sidewalks, and projects aligning with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to a release, municipalities participating in the program would be mandated to submit data to the Department of Transportation on road conditions.

In addition, according to a release, the transportation department would develop a formula for awarding grants which feature a 30% match by municipalities receiving funding under the bill.

According to a release, State Fiscal Recovery Funds totaling $20 million are encompassed in Gov. Dan McKee’s budget proposal that would be used for the program, with additional funding potentially being allocated through bonding or appropriation.

According to a release, a third bill is designed to improve accountability and delivery of Rhode Island’s transit services. Ruggerio’s bill proposes shifting responsibility for maintaining and developing transit services to a new consolidated department. Currently, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is in charge of transit.

A fourth bill, sponsored by Lombardo III, would work to setting up the state to handle the rapid growth of electric vehicles. The bill calls for expanding and new parking lots to include a certain percentage of charging stations for electric vehicles.

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