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RIDOT Seeks Federal Funding for Providence Project

Thu February 09, 2017 - Northeast Edition
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The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) submitted a grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund an enhanced design of the 6/10 Interchange where it intersects with I-95 northbound and the Providence Viaduct northbound.

The $226.1 million project will still address the deteriorating Viaduct northbound but adds improved traffic circulation from the 6/10 corridor, provides pedestrian enhancements, and makes 7.3 acres of land available for development.

In announcing a redesign of the 6/10 Interchange, RIDOT indicated that it would seek federal discretionary funding for additional improvements to the 6/10 corridor requested by the city of Providence, including a reconfiguration of the Dean Street onramp.

RIDOT applied for $59 million from the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program for Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) funding to rebuild the area of the 6/10 Interchange and the Providence Viaduct northbound bridge. Remaining funds needed for this project will come from RIDOT's traditional federal and state sources including tolling.

“This is a competitive process and I am pleased to support the state's application. This project has the opportunity to generate jobs and economic development while reducing congestion and improving public safety,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.

“Rebuilding our highways and bridges creates jobs, protects drivers and makes Rhode Island a more attractive place to do business,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who worked to include the NSFHP in the transportation authorization bill that passed last year. “Rebuilding this interchange is an enormously important project for our state and I will continue to fight for every federal dollar possible to get it done. We've had success with the 95 Viaduct north and south bound and the Apponaug Circulator and we hope for similar success under this program.”

“Rhode Islanders deserve safe roads and bridges, and this project would secure one of our state's key interchanges,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “It would help us reconnect Providence's historic neighborhoods and provide sound footing for economic development in a critical part of our state. I am a strong supporter of this application, and I urge the U.S. Department of Transportation to give it a full and fair review.”

Peter Alviti, RIDOT director, said, “We want these funds to implement further design improvements to the 6/10 corridor which incorporates the Viaduct northbound. Our primary goal, of course, is safety and to restore the Viaduct to a state of good repair while addressing traffic congestion and connecting neighborhoods.”

“This is yet another opportunity to improve the 6/10 corridor and build upon our efforts to reconnect our neighborhoods,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. “We hope to invest in forward-thinking transportation infrastructure while at the same time increasing safety and improving access to Rhode Island's capital city.”

The Viaduct carries I-95 through the heart of Providence between the major interchanges with U.S. Route 6/State Route 10 and State Route 146. It has the third highest volume of traffic in New England.

The Providence Viaduct is more than 50 years old and was designed to handle a volume of 57,000 vehicles daily. It now carries 220,000 vehicles daily. There are six bridges in this interchange and four are structurally deficient. One is fracture critical.

As part of this project RIDOT will rebuild the interchange and improve the system of ramps, which will eliminate a major bottleneck and vastly improve the efficient movement of people and goods through the region. RIDOT's traffic models estimate that if the bottleneck is not addressed, by 2035 a typical afternoon rush hour trip from Reservoir Avenue to Branch Avenue will take 35 minutes. With the new design, that travel time would be reduced more than 80 percent, taking only six minutes to complete.

RIDOT will use grant funds to make modifications to the Dean Street interchange to reduce congestion and improve safety. The modifications will eliminate the weave movement just prior to the existing Viaduct interchange, where vehicles accessing Route 6/10 eastbound from the Dean Street on-ramp (and destined for I-95 northbound) pose conflicts with through traffic.

Finally, the project will include pedestrian improvements. A decision on the FASTLANE grant application is expected in early 2017.

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