Digging Deeper: Rhode Island's roads - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Digging Deeper: Rhode Island's roads

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PROVIDENCE -

If you drive in Rhode Island, you know the roads aren't the greatest.

A study released by the White House shows 41 percent of Rhode Island highways are in poor condition, and bridges are in a similar state.

But it's not because motorists aren't paying enough.

The federal report says drivers pay about $662 per year in fees, taxes and maintenance - that's more than every other state except California.

Director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation Michael Lewis said most of the money is being spent elsewhere, and not on roads.

"Historically, Rhode Island has had zero state funded capital program," he said. "It relies 100 percent on the federal program."

The state gets about $200 million to $220 million a year from the Highway Trust Fund's matching program.

"Rhode Island gets back almost $3 for every $1 we contribute to the highway trust fund," Lewis said. "Only Alaska and Washington D.C. get back a higher percentage than Rhode Island in terms of what we put in."

When it comes to federal funding, the Ocean State gets a lot for its money.

Lewis said to fix the problem Rhode Island needs to put more of its own money into highways and bridges. He says he needs about $400 million over 10 years if we want the roads to improve.

Some states depend on tolls. Others borrow.

Lewis said Rhode Island will either have to allocate more of the state budget to roads, or add even more taxes, fees or tolls.

"We have a lot of catch up to do," he said. "It can't be done overnight."

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