Effort in Vermont would hike spending on roads and bridges

| Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Vermont Senate has advanced a $354 million transportation budget that boosts spending on the state’s roads and bridges.

A legislative study committee met last fall and endorsed shifting more of the state’s annual transportation budget away from other transit programs to allow more spending on road and bridge projects. That means less would go toward funding things such as rest areas, public transportation and other nonmaintenance items.

The Senate plan picks up where the study panel left off.

Gov. James Douglas also said during his budget address that road and bridgework should be the state’s top priority. He proposed spending $40 million for paving and $53 million for bridge repair.

Vermont currently allocates $33 million annually to pave roads and $49 million to repair bridges, the Rutland Herald reported.

Senators unanimously approved the new spending plan April 28. The House previously passed a similar version.

The bill – H523 – earmarks $13 million to pave sections of Interstates 89 and 91, including a 12-mile stretch of I-89 northbound from Hartford to Sharon, and a 12-mile segment of I-91 northbound between Gilford and Brattleboro.

Repairs are also included for bridges over the White River in Hartford and the Ompompanoosuc River in Norwich.

Now a conference committee will be appointed to work out differences between the House and Senate versions.

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