PROVIDENCE, RI – In an effort to improve the safety of Rhode Island’s bridges and relieve traffic congestion, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representative David Cicilline today announced over $3.34 million in federal funds to help replace the Pawtucket River Bridge on the busy I-95 corridor.
In 2007, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) found the bridge's steel beams and other supports were deteriorating. As a result, a weight limit of 18 tons was imposed on the bridge, effectively banning large trucks from traveling I-95 from the George Street to School Street exits pending the reconstruction of the bridge. To help replace the bridge, Reed and Whitehouse secured over $4.1 million in federal earmark funds between 2009 and 2010. Recently, RIDOT completed the first span of construction on the Pawtucket River Bridge, which carries traffic heading northbound, and lifted the weight limit that has detoured trucks traveling I-95 North.
"The Pawtucket River Bridge is a critical part of the I-95 corridor and it’s important to the economy of the region that it is open to all traffic. This grant will help relieve the state of some of the financial burden of construction and will help move this project toward completion. Equally important, completing this project will ease noise and traffic congestion for Pawtucket residents," said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.
“Investing in our state’s infrastructure will create badly needed construction jobs and ensure that our roads and bridges are safe for Rhode Island drivers,” said Whitehouse. “This federal grant will support the long-overdue reconstruction of the Pawtucket River Bridge, making the bridge safer and more accessible, and will create job opportunities for Rhode Island workers.”
"Replacement of the busy Pawtucket River Bridge is a high priority project for our state, is helping to put Rhode Islanders to work, and is a vital part of our efforts to rebuild key infrastructure and get our economy back on track. I am proud to join in announcing these federal funds to help advance this important work," said Cicilline.
The Pawtucket River Bridge was originally built in 1958 to carry 60,000 vehicles per day, but carries approximately 162,000 vehicles over Taft Street and the Pawtucket River. The Federal Highway Administration funds are financing eighty percent of the $81 million project and the state is covering the remainder of the costs.
Earlier this year, Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation announced $10 million in federal funding for the reconstruction of the Providence Viaduct – another critical link in the region’s Interstate system that is also in need of replacement due to deterioration.