Federal accountability starts in R.I.

This story opens as a simple $1.2 million grant from the U. S. Department of Transportation to Bristol to rehabilitate the walls of the Prudence Island Ferry Dock Pier, a project that would help both the service to the island and potentially service to other Rhode Island ports.

Deterioration of the pier is such that there are safety concerns and the work needs to be done soon to avoid interruption of services to the island, according to a news release from U.S. Sen. Jack F. Reed’s office.

If true then why, when contacted by PBN for more details, did Bristol’s town administrator not know the project’s total cost or if the town is required to help pay for it?

Reed’s office said the federal Passenger Ferry Grant program typically requires an 80-20 split, federal-to-local dollars.

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The quest to understand the state’s public expenditures is a consistent challenge that deserves vigilance. But so too does the local spending of federal money. After all, funding from Washington, D.C., is derived from our tax dollars, too.