DRIVE Act includes $1.3 billion in funding for Vt. roads

Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders | The Office of Sen. Bernie Sanders
A six-year, $278 billion transportation funding bill that will provide in excess of $1.3 billion for the maintenance of Vermont's roads and bridges was advanced by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee late last week.

If passed, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act would keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent. The fund is scheduled to run out of money at the end of July. 

“It is no secret that our infrastructure is crumbling,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT),  who assisted with the drafting of the bill as a member of the Senate Transportation Subcommittee, said. “One of every nine bridges in our country is structurally deficient and nearly a quarter are functionally obsolete. Almost one-third of our roads are in poor or mediocre condition.”

Sanders opposed proposals that would have led to steep cuts to Vermont’s funding.

“My priority was to make sure Vermont continues to receive the federal resources it needs to improve our roads and bridges," he said. "I am very pleased this bill does just that."

Other provisions in the bill include measures to make Vermont competitive for funding, regulatory leeway for rural roads and decreasing the cost of borrowing federal funds for rural projects, as well putting in motion the creation of a national network of recharging stations for electric vehicles.

The U.S. spends only 1.7 percent of its gross domestic product on infrastructure.

"We must invest much more in infrastructure to keep America competitive in this global economy,” Sanders said. “While this bill is a step forward, I would prefer to go much further.”

Sanders said spending more on infrastructure would likely lead to job creation.

"At a time when real unemployment is near 11 percent, we need jobs and we need them now,” Sanders said. “We can fix our roads and bridges and put Americans back to work at the same time.”

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United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works First St NE Washington, DC - 20002

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