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Shumlin signs transportation bill - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin signs transportation bill

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MORRISVILLE, Vt. - The semis are moving out of Morrisville. They'll be moving onto a new $8 million dollar bridge.

"Over the last six years, we've put our money where our mouth is and have said, if we're gonna have a vibrant economy, we need the infrastructure that's gonna allow us to do that," said Vt. House Speaker Shap Smith.

Governor Peter Shumlin signed the largest transportation bill in the state's history on that bridge Monday.

The $685 million dollar bill includes more money than ever for paving roads and work on bridges, among other things.  "$140 million bucks in bridge investment. $115 million in paving and $108 million to our town highway programs," Shumlin said.

Governor Shumlin emphasized that Vermont needed to invest more heavily in its infrastructure to grow its economy and attract businesses, saying “a strong economy requires a 21st Century infrastructure.”

Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said, “Several successive years of record level investment are yielding positive results. We are seeing improved performance in pavement quality and in the condition of our structures.”

The two mile stretch of road connected to the new bridge will allow drivers to avoid passing through downtown Morrisville. The bridge is part of Route 100 and it will connect to Route 15 in a new roundabout.  Developers hope the new bridge will open in October of 2014.

Since Shumlin took office in 2008, Vermont has moved up from 45th to 28th in the country in the number of structurally sound bridges. "Twenty percent of our bridges were structurally deficient. By 2013 we had that down to 8 percent," he said.

Shumlin said he hopes that the bill will bring more jobs to Vermont as the state commits to improving its infrastructure. Since the 2014 fiscal year, the state has increased the number of taxpayer dollars spent on infrastructure and additional federal dollars will help pay for the bill. Once the project is finished, it will also include a new pedestrian bridge as it creates more efficient routes for both workers and Morrisville natives.

The bill also includes significant increases in the budget for aviation, rail and public transit. The 67 percent increase in the aviation budget is due to an increase in federal money, thanks to an FAA mandate that Vermont lengthens runways at Morristown, Newport and Rutland regional airports.

The additional money for public transit will make the buying of buses more efficient, thus saving the state money and reducing carbon footprint. VTrans is seeking to find efficiency improvements through route integration, operational improvements and organizational restructuring.

The legislature approved the bill without a conference committee, a rare show of bipartisan cooperation. 

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