WASHINGTON, July 30 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) applauded the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s passage of a five-year, $287-billion transportation funding bill that includes more than $1.3 billion for Vermont to maintain its roads, bridges and transit systems.
“It is no secret that our infrastructure is crumbling,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who helped draft the bill as a member of the transportation subcommittee. “The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave Vermont’s infrastructure a ‘C’ grade. One-quarter of our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Almost 30 percent of our roads are in poor or very poor condition.”
Sanders staved off proposals that could have resulted in steep cuts to Vermont’s funding. “My priority was to make sure Vermontcontinues to receive the federal resources it needs to improve our roads and bridges. I am very pleased this bill does just that.”
The bill would provide at least $1.33 billion in federal highway aid from 2021 through 2025 to repair Vermont’s roads and bridges, an increase of 20 percent.
The bill incorporates several provisions authored by Sanders that would benefit Vermont, including: changes to help Vermont fund the operation of rural transit routes; making additional funding available for the state’s rail system; and a new $1 billion grant program to build a national network of recharging stations for electric vehicles. Sanders also supported the creation of programs to reduce transportation emissions and improve the resiliency of the state’s roads and bridges from extreme weather events like Tropical Storm Irene, which are expected to increase in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change.
As ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders noted that President Trump’s budget called for $87 billion in cut to infrastructure investments. “Trump campaigned on rebuilding our infrastructure, but is proposing cutting these programs after signing into a law a $2 trillion tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited the top 1 percent,” Sanders said.
“While this bill is a step forward, I would prefer to go much further,” Sanders said. He cited studies by the American Society of Civil Engineers that say we must double the current rate of spending in order to get our roads, bridges and transit to a state of good repair over the next ten years. “We can fix our roads, bridges and rapidly transform our infrastructure to aggressively tackle climate change—all while creating millions of good-paying jobs doing it.”