2017 Rhode Island General Laws
Title 42 - State Affairs and Government
Chapter 42-13.1 - The Rhode Island Bridge Replacement, Reconstruction, and Maintenance Fund
Section 42-13.1-2 - Legislative findings.

Universal Citation: RI Gen L § 42-13.1-2 (2017)

§ 42-13.1-2. Legislative findings.

The general assembly finds that:

(1) The state of Rhode Island, through the Rhode Island department of transportation ("the department"), funds the reconstruction, replacement, and maintenance of all bridges in Rhode Island, except the Newport Bridge, the Mount Hope Bridge, the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge, and the Sakonnet River Bridge.

(2) According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) 2015 National Bridge Inventory (NBI) data, there are seven hundred sixty-four (764) bridges in Rhode Island greater than twenty feet (20') in length. Of these NBI bridges, one hundred seventy-seven (177) bridges, or twenty-three percent (23%), are classified as structurally deficient.

(3) For the past several decades, Rhode Island has depended on three (3) primary sources for funding all transportation infrastructure construction, maintenance, and operations: federal funds, state bond funds, and motor fuel tax revenue. Of these sources, two (2), federal funds and motor fuel tax revenue, are mutable.

(4) The 2008 governor's blue ribbon panel on transportation funding, the 2011 senate special commission on sustainable transportation funding, and the 2013 special legislative commission to study the funding for East Bay bridges determined that there is insufficient revenue available from all existing sources to fund the maintenance and improvement of Rhode Island transportation infrastructure.

(5) In 2011, the general assembly adopted a component of the recommended systemic change to transportation funding by dedicating increased resources from the Rhode Island capital plan fund and creating the Rhode Island highway maintenance account, to be funded by an increase in license and registration fees, beginning in FY2014.

(6) In 2014, the general assembly adopted changes to the Rhode Island highway maintenance account to provide additional state revenue for transportation infrastructure in future years.

(7) Although the state is shifting from long-term borrowing to reliance upon annual revenues to fund transportation infrastructure on a pay-as-you go basis, and although a recurring state source of capital funds has been established, there is still a funding gap between the revenue needed to maintain all bridges in structurally sound and good condition and the annual amounts generated by current dedicated revenue sources.

(8) According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, just one, fully-loaded five-axle (5) tractor trailer has the same impact on the interstate as nine thousand six hundred (9,600) automobiles. The department estimates that tractor trailers cause in excess of seventy percent (70%) of the damage to the state's transportation infrastructure, including Rhode Island bridges, on an annual basis. However, revenue contributions attributable to tractor trailers account for less than twenty percent (20%) of the state's total annual revenues to fund transportation infrastructure.

(9) The United States Congress, consistent with its power to regulate interstate commerce and pursuant to 23 U.S.C. § 129, has authorized states to implement reconstruction or replacement of a toll-free bridge and conversion of the bridge to a toll facility, provided that the state:

(i) Has in effect a law that permits tolling on a bridge prior to commencing any such activity; and

(ii) Otherwise complies with the requirements of 23 U.S.C. § 129.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2016, ch. 3, § 2; P.L. 2016, ch. 4, § 2.)

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