Year after year, inspectors conclude that a significant portion of Vermont's transportation infrastructure is in "very poor" condition. That figure currently sits at about 22 percent. But legislators say the governor's promise of more cash should help pump the brakes on declining conditions.
"In the governor's speech he gave us 33 million reasons to smile. That's a great increase and a well-needed increase," said Rep. Pat Brennan, R-Colchester.
Vermont is poised to spend $686 million on transportation in the next fiscal year which begins in July-- the most it ever has.
House members working closest with the transportation budget say extra millions for paving and bridge repair will go a long way.
"And those are two of the areas where we need the most work," Brennan said.
Legislators say there's no reason to consider raising the state gas tax again, but part of last year's hike will still kick in come July. The gas tax will increase another 2 percent in July and the diesel tax will go up another cent, generating some of the new money.
Of the $33 million in new funds, about $24 million are federal dollars. Along with paving, those dollars will be spent on about 100 bridge repairs, and modernizing Vermont's Western rail-line between Rutland and Burlington.
"I'm very excited about that, having passenger rail coming sooner rather than later from Burlington to New York City," said Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle County.
Mazza chairs the Senate's Transportation Committee and says he's also encouraged by the planned addition of more electric vehicle charging stations. But he says with each new electric vehicle on the road, gas-based funding takes another hit-- Vermont may not be able to switch to a mileage-based system on its own.
"We can't do this on our own," Mazza said. "We need federal assistance."
Along with all the new spending designed to tackle long-term challenges, lawmakers say they also plan on setting aside cash to handle problems caused by this winter's wild weather.
Legislators say about $1.3 million should refill a drained maintenance fund and cover a large bump in salt usage.
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:49 PM EST2014-03-09 02:49:49 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 9:29 PM EST2014-03-09 02:29:17 GMT
A warning for pet owners in our region. Coyotes are on the prowl. A biologist in New Hampshire says he has received more than 10 calls recently, in the Keene, New Hampshire area, for a deer that was takenMore >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:21 PM EST2014-03-09 02:21:44 GMT
As spring approaches, many Vermont homeowners prepare to work on their houses - so they head to the Burlington Home Show. And many Vermont small business owners - with their products and services on displayMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 8:07 PM EST2014-03-09 01:07:08 GMT
A rally at the State House in Montpelier Saturday. A passionate group of dozens of women, and men, assembled in front of the State House Saturday for the Women's March for Dignity. They were demandingMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
We've had another cold week that's left homeowners cranking the heat. But what does that mean for kids' safety?More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
Armed with just two L rods, 87-year-old John Wayne Blassingame starts looking for water by asking yes or no questions. "Does it go past 20 feet, does it go past 30 feet, yah," he says. The rods crossingMore >>
A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>