Record transportation bill paves way for future

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By Gov. Peter Shumlin

Whether it’s going to and from work or taking the kids to school, many Vermonters spend a good portion of their day in a car or truck traveling on Vermont’s roads. And those who do know full well the impact this year’s brutal winter took on our transportation infrastructure. That’s why we’re making the largest investment in state history to repair our roads and build a 21st-century transportation system that will create jobs and continue to grow Vermont’s economy for years to come.

You’ll see us hard at work this summer and fall with paving projects on U.S. 2 and 2A in Colchester and Williston; VT 128 between Essex and Westford; VT 15 in Essex, Jericho and Underhill; and I-89 both north and southbound.

Investing in Vermont’s transportation infrastructure isn’t just about making the daily commute easier, although that’s important. It’s also a way to drive economic growth and set Vermont on the path for a vibrant economic future. Every $1 million of transportation funding supports 35 jobs in Vermont, through the hard work of repaving roads and repairing bridges as well as through the maintenance of our transportation infrastructure, which literally carries Vermont’s world famous products to market and drives tourists from all over the world to our small towns, big mountains and scenic lakes. The investments we make in transportation help keep employed thousands of hard working Vermonters every year.

The FY 2015 Transportation Bill I signed this year approves $685.7 million in infrastructure improvements and maintenance, and supports the Agency of Transportation’s vision of a safe, efficient, multimodal transportation system that promotes Vermont’s quality of life and economic growth. Key components of this budget emphasize economic development, safety, preservation and maintenance of the existing transportation system, energy efficient transportation choices, and the continued rebuilding of infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and other recent natural disasters.

And the work we’re doing is paying off. In 2008, Vermont ranked near the bottom of all states – 45th in the nation – for numbers of structurally deficient bridges. By 2013, the state had climbed to 28th, reduced the overall percentage of structurally deficient bridges by 11 percent and the percentage of pavement rated in very poor condition by 15 percent.

We’ve got more work to do. But the next time you see workers out on the roads, remember that we’re making the smart investments today that will set us on the path for continued economic growth in the future.

Peter Shumlin has served as Vermont Governor since 2011.