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6/22/2019 Budget includes bonds to replace Route 95 viaduct in Providence
STATE HOUSE – The budget bill approved by the House today includes authorization of 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.

Separate legislation (2019-S 0633A, 2019-H 5883) to authorize the bonds was introduced on behalf of the Department of Transportation earlier in the session by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth).

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is one of the busiest, most congested sections of highway in all of Rhode Island, and it’s a structure that is both outdated and structurally deficient.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.

Said Representative Edwards, “The Providence 95 viaduct has been identified as the most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridge in the entire state. Reconstructing it as soon as possible means nearly 200,000 trips are made safer every single day in our small state. GARVEE bonds help us move the process along, improving public safety sooner and reducing the number of trips Rhode Islanders take over and under this bridge in its remaining lifetime. The sooner we replace it, the safer Rhode Islanders will be.”

The budget bill (2019-H 5151Aaa) now heads the Senate.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923