BRISTOL, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman David Cicilline announced that the Town of Bristol will receive $1,169,096 to rehabilitate the north and south walls of the Prudence Island Ferry Dock Pier. The project will complement a restoration of the west wall that was recently undertaken, preserving the Town Dock for many years in order to support the lifeline ferry service to Prudence Island.
The federal funding comes from the Passenger Ferry Grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The pier restoration project will ensure the Prudence Island Ferry can continue to offer reliable access for residents and tourists, as well as researchers at the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The dock restoration project will provide economic benefits to Bristol, since residents of Prudence Island come to Bristol for goods and services. Upgrading the dock will also help achieve cost savings for the Town as a result of improved maintenance and operations, ending the need for frequent, incremental patching of the existing structure.
Additionally, the rehabilitation of the dock will provide new transportation options to potential riders in the service area, including the possibility for additional ferry service from Bristol to Newport and Bristol to Providence.
“The Prudence Island Ferry provides a lifeline service, but it can’t run without adequate infrastructure. That’s why I was pleased to work with the community to help deliver this federal funding, which will help Bristol, as well as Portsmouth. This service is an important link for residents and visitors traveling between Prudence Island and the mainland,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD), who helped the Town identify the Passenger Ferry Grant opportunity and supported their application. “This grant will create jobs improving the dock and provide long-term benefits of enhanced safety and accessibility, as well as options to create future transportation links from Bristol to Newport and between Bristol and Providence. I was pleased to work with Town Administrator Steven Contente and Town Council Chairman Nathan Calouro to support this effort.”
“Infrastructure projects like this support Rhode Island’s economy and way of life,” said Senator Whitehouse, who advocated on behalf of the town’s grant application. “This award will help connect Prudence Island residents and tourists to Newport and Providence and preserve researchers’ access to Narragansett Bay, while saving the town money. Thanks to Administrator Steve Contente and Diane Williamson for their hard work to help secure this federal funding.”
“The Prudence Island Ferry is a critical part of Rhode Island’s infrastructure. This federal funding saves money and improves transportation options for both Bristol residents and visitors who provide critical economic activity for the East Bay,” said Congressman Cicilline, who also signed a letter in support of the town’s application. “This is a big win for our state, but we all know there is much more work to do. That’s why, as a member of the House Democratic Leadership, I’m going to continue fighting for a $1 trillion federal investment in modernizing our country’s infrastructure so we can give all Rhode Islanders A Better Deal with better jobs, better wages, and a better future.”
“This is a big win for Bristol that addresses both current and future waterfront infrastructure needs. Our number one priority is making sure the dock is safe, and this federal grant will help ensure that is the case. I am also very conscious of improving services without increasing taxes, and so partnering with the federal government on a project of this nature is huge in terms of saving local tax dollars, while cost-effectively investing in the future of our transportation network and ensuring there is public access to Prudence Island,” said Town Administrator Steven Contente. “I commend Senator Reed and members of our Congressional delegation for working to get his done. Improving the dock will enhance safety for the ferry passengers and crew, and can help spark future economic development.”
The current Prudence Island Ferry Dock Pier has deteriorated significantly over time. Within the tidal zone, a significant portion of the steel sheet pile on the north side has reached the end of its useful life. The holes in the steel sheet pile have led to loss of fill, creating an unsafe condition for pedestrians and vehicles.
The project will provide needed rehabilitation to this structure, making the system safe and secure in addition to the continuation of the existing service to Prudence Island. By acting now, the needed repairs can be made without interrupting service.