Congressional Inaction on Long-Term Highway & Transit Bill Puts 9,545 Rhode Island Jobs at Risk, New Study Shows

Mar 28, 2011, 13:30 ET from American Road & Transportation Builders Association

New website—www.transportationcreatesjobs.org—has economic data for all 50 states

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As partisan bickering and posturing continues on Capitol Hill, the failure to pass overdue legislation that provides multi-year federal aid to state highway and transit programs jeopardizes 9,545 jobs in Rhode Island, according to new research.

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These employees earn a total annual payroll of $536.3 million and contribute an estimated $47.3 million in state and federal payroll tax revenue.  This employment includes the equivalent of 4,755 full-time jobs directly involved in transportation construction and related activities, and 4,790 that are sustained by transportation design and construction industry employee and company spending throughout the state's economy, according to the analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF).

The ARTBA-TDF report, "U.S. Transportation Construction Industry Profile," revealed the existence of more than 273,026 full-time jobs in Rhode Island in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing that are dependent on the state's transportation network.

The need for road and bridge improvements is clear.  According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Rhode Island has 6,403 miles of roadway.  Of the state's 1,754 miles of roadway eligible for federal aid, 28.8% are rated "not acceptable" and need major repairs or replacement.  This compares to 29.8% of roads in 2007.  Rhode Island also has 739 bridges.  FHWA reports 53.6% of the state's bridges are either "structurally deficient" (163 bridges) or "functionally obsolete" (233 bridges).  It will cost an estimated $3.0 billion to make needed bridge repairs on 730 structures in the state.

The last highway and transit law expired in October 2009.  Federal aid to the states has been sustained ever since through a series of short-term extensions.  The uncertainty of future funding levels is causing state transportation departments to slow down or delay projects, and in turn, impacting hiring decisions and equipment purchases by transportation design and construction firms.

The ARTBA-TDF is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt entity created to "promote research, education and public awareness."  It supports an array of initiatives, such as scholarships, awards, safety training and economic reports.

Editor's Note: An interactive website—www.transportationconstructionjobs.org—has comprehensive data about the impacts of transportation investment on the national and all 50 state economies.

SOURCE American Road & Transportation Builders Association