Cicilline Outlines Bipartisan Bill Aimed at Encouraging Use of Innovative Construction Materials

Oct 5, 2018

BRISTOL – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Co-Chair David N. Cicilline (D-RI-01) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-RI) office hosted a roundtable discussion with Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, the University of Rhode Island, the Composites Alliance of Rhode Island, the American Composites Manufacturers Association, and Rhode Island transportation and composites leaders on the Innovative Materials for America’s Growth and Infrastructure Newly Expanded (IMAGINE) Act of 2018. This legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and a companion bill was introduced in the House with Congressman David Cicilline as an original co-sponsor. The IMAGINE Act of 2018 would encourage the research and use of innovative construction materials and techniques for transportation and water infrastructure projects.

“Rhode Island composites companies play a big part in federal efforts to expand the use of innovative materials in water and transportation projects.  Using these materials in our public works will pay off big for the communities that rely on them, for the composites industry, and for the American taxpayer,” said Whitehouse, who has worked closely with the American Composites Manufacturing Association and Rhode Island’s composites manufacturing industry to explore the range of applications for advanced materials in America’s infrastructure.  “I’m proud to be fighting alongside Congressman Cicilline for this legislation to help drive investment in the next generation of materials to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and create jobs in Rhode Island.”

“Hard-working Americans suffer the consequences of our country’s lack of investment in infrastructure,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “This legislation would lead to research and development of materials that can be used for vital, more resilient infrastructure projects, and would create good-paying jobs, especially in Rhode Island which is a national leader in this sector and has over 80 composite companies. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Whitehouse and various stakeholders on this issue.”

As infrastructure continues to deteriorate around the state and country due to a lack of investment, forward-thinking methods need to be utilized which will lead to projects that are safer, longer-lasting, and more cost-effective. The bipartisan IMAGINE Act would encourage the development of materials such as high-performance asphalt mixtures and concrete formulations, geosynthetic materials, advanced polymers, reinforced polymer composites, advanced alloys and metals, and aggregate materials. It is endorsed by groups including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), American Coatings Association, Geosynthetic Materials Association, American Chemistry Council, Plastics Industry Association, Vinyl Institute, Owens Corning, and LafargeHolcim. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Provide $60 million for a grant program for the design and installation of innovative bridge projects (The Senate version would provide $65 million).


  • Provide $65 million for a grant program to use innovative materials in the design and installation of wastewater and drinking water systems in small to medium-sized communities.


  • Provide $8 million to the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center to work with states and Tribal agencies to research and develop innovative materials.


  • Create an Interagency Task Force to assess existing standards and testing methods for innovative materials, identify barriers to entry, and develop new methods and protocols to better evaluate innovative materials.

“ACMA is very proud to be working with Senator Whitehouse, Congressman Cicilline and their fellow cosponsors on the IMAGINE Act,” said MJ Carrabba, Director, Government Affairs, American Composites Manufacturers Association. “This legislation creates a pathway to deploy 21st century construction solutions, like strong and lightweight composites, to rebuild American infrastructure to meet 21st century demands and create new opportunity for manufacturers in Rhode Island and around the country to thrive.”

"Senator Whitehouse and Congressman Cicilline have championed the IMAGINE Act of 2018, which came together from the work of many local and national stakeholders, including URI," said George Nickolopoulos, Relationship Manager, Business Engagement Center, URI.  "URI has been engaging in ongoing research on the use of composites, and this legislation would support important investments in this industry in Rhode Island."

“The IMAGINE Act represents the hard work of individuals from composites businesses, government and academia who worked together to find innovative solutions for improving our nation’s infrastructure,” said Susan Daly, VP of Strategy, Composites Alliance of Rhode Island. “The passing of this bill would tap the expertise of companies in the Composites Alliance of Rhode Island—leading to new opportunity for businesses and job prospects for residents.”  

“At RIDOT, we are always looking for new ways to ensure the maximum lifespan for all our projects, said Director Peter Alviti. “The composite industry gives us a chance to use products that are more durable and we have used them in a number of bridges. We look forward to seeing how these materials evolve.”

A section-by-section summary of the bill is available here.

A copy of the bill is available here.