GA authorizes up to $200M for Providence Viaduct reconstruction

THE R.I. GENERAL ASSEMBLY passed bills authorizing up to $200 million in GARVEE bonds for the reconstruction of the viaduct that carries !-95 north through downtown Providence. Above, construction on the Providence Viaduct carrying I-95 south. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
THE R.I. GENERAL ASSEMBLY passed bills authorizing up to $200 million in GARVEE bonds for the reconstruction of the viaduct that carries !-95 north through downtown Providence. Above, construction on the Providence Viaduct carrying I-95 south. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. General Assembly over the weekend authorized up to $200 million in Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle bonds, or GARVEE bonds, for the reconstruction of the viaduct that carries Interstate 95 north through downtown Providence.

The bond money was included in the R.I. House of Representatives’ budget passed on Saturday.

GARVEE bonds allow states to begin highway projects in anticipation of federal funding. THE R.I. Department of Transportation completed the replacement of the southbound viaduct in 2017.

The DOT said that the bridge sees 180,000 to 190,000 vehicles daily.

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The reconstruction plan would include the addition of lanes that would “better separate entering and exiting traffic from other traffic to relieve congestion,” according to a release by the department.

The R.I. House said in a release that the bonds would allow the state to lock in low interest rates and utilize federal finds from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 2015.

The DOT intends to begin construction in 2020 and expects work to last five years.

The bills to authorize the bonds were introduced by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, and House Majority Whip John G. Edwards, D-Tiverton.

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is one of the busiest, most congested sections of highway in all of Rhode Island, and it’s a structure that is both outdated and structurally deficient,” said Goodwin in a statement.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