2018-03-08 / Around Town

RIDOT Holds Workshop on Pell Bridge Realignment

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) held a public workshop on March 1 to outline plans for building new approaches to the Pell Bridge, with the first step being a study of the environmental impact of the realigned roadways and how any changes will affect neighbors.

Consultants from the Providence office of VHB, a firm specializing in large scale infrastructure projects, were in attendance, along with Jody Richards, RIDOT project manager.

Although no plan has been formalized, the workshop laid out the parameters within which the project will take place. The project is part of the state’s 10-year Transportation Improvement Plan. The planning and assessment phases are scheduled to be completed by summer 2019, with construction expected to last until 2022. The project is expected to cost $40 million, with 80 percent coming from federal funding.

According to Richards, it is necessary to go systemically through the preliminary phases of the project to be eligible for federal funding. The entire roadways reconstruction project, from the first tentative plan to the painting of the lane lines of the newly constructed approaches, will cost $40 million, and without the 80% federal contribution, $32 million approximately, the state’s 20% or $8 million would be inadequate.

Richards stressed the importance of public input into the planning of the reconstruction project. He added that the regional importance of the job would extend beyond Newport and Aquidneck Island.

He also spoke of a new approach by RIDOT for infrastructure projects. Previously, work was done “in different silos,” with the planning, impact studies and design work performed by one team, and the package then being handed off to a construction manager who had not been involved in the preparatory stages. He said there will now be one point of contact throughout the project.

Peter Povao, a VHB consultant, introduced seven stations, each with a map denoting the various impacts the new ramps would generate, including impacts on historical structures and areas, land use, noise from the new traffic flows that will affect adjacent neighborhoods, new acreage that would be freed up for development, traffic safety concerns, wetlands and other environmental concerns. The public was invited to visit each station, ask questions and voice concerns.

Community input will be used to shape several possible layouts, which will be presented to residents at a second public workshop later this year. A plan will then be submitted for approval to the federal highway authorities. Once the project receives a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI), it can move forward to construction.

Local residents can write RIDOT, care of VHB, 1 Cedar St., Suite 400, Providence or visit surveymonkey.com/r/PellBridgeProject to leave questions or comments that will be answered at a future workshop.

Rob Duca and B. Udoma

Return to top