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Grow Smart Rhode Island’s Scott Wolf invited to meet with President Obama

White House South Lawn

Photo (cc) Mark Skrobola

Jobs bill, infrastructure investments on agenda

October 31, 2011 – Grow Smart Executive Director Scott Wolf will be meeting with President Barack Obama and White House staff tomorrow, November 1st. Wolf will be at the White House as part of a small delegation from Transportation for America, a national alliance of advocates and civic leaders promoting targeted investments in road and bridge repair and enhanced public transit. The President’s proposed Jobs Bill includes a number of such investments.

This meeting follows Grow Smart’s involvement in promoting these targeted investments alongside Rhode Island Senators Reed and Whitehouse at a September 28th media event drawing attention to the state’s infrastructure needs.

The President’s plan includes $60 billion in immediate investments in infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and modernization of mass transit, and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job. The bill would also create a $7 billion infrastructure bank to leverage private and public capital to fund a broad range of transportation projects.

For Rhode Island this would mean investments of at least $162.4 million in road and bridge repair and transit modernization that could support a minimum of 2,100 local jobs.

According to a 2008 report [.pdf], Rhode Island has a backlog of needed road and bridge projects that would require a $3 billion investment over ten years to bring existing infrastructure into a state of good repair. And in partnership with civic leaders and community stakeholders, RIPTA has prepared a vision [.pdf] for vastly improving mass transit by investing approximately $46 million over a five year-period.

“As the smallest and 2nd most urbanized state in America, Rhode Island has the potential for a truly first class mass transit system that can save residents money on household transportation costs, which represent the second highest family cost after housing,” said Wolf. “We simply can’t have a first class economy with second rate infrastructure. Without making these essential investments we will continue to compromise our state’s user friendliness and economic development marketability,” he said.

The World Economic Forum reports that the U.S.’s infrastructure ranking has slipped from 6th best in the world to 16th in just the last three years. The U.S. invests about 2% of GDP in transportation, while Europe invests 5% and China invests 9%.

Stay tuned for a follow-up report of Scott’s meeting with the President.

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