Chafee, Whitehouse discuss federal highway bill

Highway and bridge construction could cease if a federal highway bill doesn't pass, according to U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

The politicians appeared at a news conference Friday morning to talk about the need to pass the $283 billion bill.

"We will be one of the first states to shut down construction if this bill doesn't pass," said Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat.

The senator described some of the state's roads as "decrepit, ancient (and) falling down around us."

Federal transportation funding is set to dry up Sept. 30. The senator supports the bill to keep federal funding going to states to help maintain and build highways and bridges.

The bill would allocate $211 million to Rhode Island in the first year and that amount would increase from 2015 to 2020.

Whitehouse said it is a bipartisan bill, but he is concerned political gridlock could set in as lawmakers try to figure out how to fund the measure.