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5/14/2019 Senate approves bonds for Route 95 viaduct in Providence
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved up to $200 million in GARVEE bonds that will allow Rhode Island to take advantage of current low interest rates to fund the reconstruction of the viaduct that carries Route 95 north though downtown Providence.

Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds are a common funding mechanism that allows the state to begin highway projects in anticipation of receipt of federal funds.

The joint resolution approving the issuance of the bonds (2019-S 0633A) is sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) on behalf of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. It will now proceed to the House of Representatives, where House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) is sponsoring similar legislation (2019-H 5883).

The 1,300-foot long bridge, built in 1964, brings the highway alongside Providence Place Mall over train tracks, the Woonasquatucket River and numerous streets, carrying an estimated 180,000 to 190,000 vehicles daily. Replacement of the southbound bridge was completed in 2017, but the northbound side remains structurally deficient and in need of widening and better traffic control.

The DOT’s plan would add lanes and better separate entering and exiting vehicles from other traffic to relieve congestion. The agency hopes to begin the construction in 2020, and expects it to last about five years.

Funding the project with GARVEE bonds would allow the state to lock in current low interest rates and take advantage of increased federal funding made available through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act enacted by Congress in 2015.

“The Providence viaduct is one of the busiest, most congested sections of highway in all of Rhode Island, and it’s a structure that is both outdated and structurally deficient. Replacing it sooner rather than allowing it to continue to deteriorate is good public safety policy, sound economic development and a way to save money due to the low interest rates that are currently available. Rhode Island needs to address our crumbling infrastructure to attract businesses and improve our quality of life, and this particular bridge stands out as one that plays a central role to the Providence commute. Its replacement will make a difference to many Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Goodwin.

For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 276-5558