Vermont panel: More funds needed for roads and bridges

| 12/15/2004

A state committee is recommending cuts in funding for public transportation, bike paths, aviation and railroad improvements in Vermont to put more money toward road and bridge work.

Vermont currently allocates $33 million annually to pave roads and $49 million to repair bridges, but that is not keeping up with demand because many of the state’s bridges and roads are crumbling, the Rutland Herald reported.

Agency of Transportation officials said an additional $70 million annually is needed to maintain the state’s highway system properly. In response, lawmakers last spring formed the Transportation Infrastructure Committee to investigate how more money could be found.

The nine-member panel – which includes the heads of the House and Senate Transportation committees – recommended this week the state shift more of its annual $360 million transportation budget away from other transit programs to allow more spending on road and bridge repairs.

That means less would go toward funding things such as rest areas, public transportation and other nonmaintenance items.

The committee did not say how much money should be reconfigured or what programs should be slashed, instead leaving that up to the General Assembly.

Lawmakers will reconvene at the Capitol Jan. 5, 2005, to begin talks on transportation funding and other issues.