The Vermont House today passed a $544 million package for transportation spending across the state. ‘We are pleased that the House has supported the Shumlin administration’s strong commitment to transportation investments this year’ noted Brian Searles, Secretary of the Agency of Transportation. ‘Increasing our transportation spending helps create more Vermont jobs and grow Vermont’s economy,’ he said.The transportation budget is a $137 million increase over pre-stimulus transportation investments and demonstrates Governor Shumlin’s strong support for improving Vermont’s transportation infrastructure. The plan advances state repair of Vermont roads and bridges and expands rail service. The proposed spending plan for state paving will improve over 100 miles of interstate highways and 135 miles of state highways, and is a 36% ($20 million) increase from pre-stimulus level funding. In addition, to help address the pavement deterioration that is plaguing state roads following this winter’s weather, the bill more than doubles spending on state highway leveling ($4 million for fiscal year 2012 up from $1.7 million). The transportation bill advances bridge repair and replacement to address the large number of structurally deficient bridges. Funding for bridge and culvert repair of $112 million in this budget is nearly double the pre-stimulus level of spending.For rail spending, provisions within the transportation bill will help leverage $80 million of funds from a federal railroad grant which, if successful, will be invested into the Western Corridor of Vermont. This is a critical part of Governor Shumlin’s goal of expanding rail from Rutland to Burlington, and connecting Vermont’s passenger service with New York City and Montreal.‘The Shumlin administration has a vision of using transportation to help boost our economy and increase mobility and highway safety for Vermonters. This transportation bill gets us on the road to the future,’ Secretary Searles noted. ##30##
The Irish squad will return to training this morning at Carton House as they prepare for Saturday’s Six Nations showdown with Italy.After the work-out, head coach Joe Schmidt will confirm his starting team for the game at the Aviva Stadium.Rob Kearney will be hoping to prove his fitness this morning, but Simon Zebo is rumoured to be in-line to replace him at full-back while fit-again Jared Payne is also expected to return to the team at out-side centre.