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U.S. Transportation Secretary Visits Providence; Lobbies for More Highway Funding

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Transportation projects - not mention traffic in some places - could come to a grinding halt if Congress does not reauthorize the Highway Trust Fund by next month. That prompted the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to come to Providence making a plea for help.

"We are at risk of pulling up the drawbridge and I will not let that happen quietly. I will work every day until Congress passes a long term bill, to move this country forward," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

Right now Rhode Island receives about $200 million dollars per year in federal highway funds.

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ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "If the bill fails in Congress, federal funding for roads and bridges in all states – including Rhode Island – would be cut by an average of 28 percent."

Government leaders are hoping that projects already under – such as the Providence Viaduct – would not be affected. But any new transportation projects probably won't get started until the dispute is solved.

"This is about jobs. If we have construction projects moving forward, it puts people to work. That money obviously filters out, throughout the economy," said rep. Jim Langevin (D) Rhode Island.

"If that money is cut because we failed to extend the Highway Trust Fund, or pass a transportation bill that really makes investments, it will hurt jobs; it will hurt the quality of our infrastructure," said rep. David Cicilline (D) Rhode Island.

Republicans have stalled the bill because they don't want to increase the federal gasoline tax by 12 cents per gallon to pay for it. Eventually even current projects could face work slow downs and layoffs if nothing gets done.
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