‘RhodeWorks’ initiative improves Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure

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One year after passage of the landmark RhodeWorks transportation legislation, Rhode Island is lauding the success of the initiative, which has spent millions of dollars on construction projects to improve the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.

The RhodeWorks program has also paved the way for a new Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), reorganized into a transparent, accountable and highly efficient state agency, and able to deliver on a cumulative total of US$1bn in transportation investment by the end of 2017. Passed and signed into law on February 11, 2016, RhodeWorks is a 10-year, US$4.7bn investment program designed to bring Rhode Island’s transportation system, especially its high number of deficient bridges, into a state of good repair. RhodeWorks will allow Rhode Island to meet the federal minimum bridge deficiency standard by 2025 or sooner by repairing more than 150 structurally deficient bridges and repairing another 500 to keep them from falling into advanced states of disrepair – a strategy that will save nearly US$950m.

Simultaneously, RhodeWorks will provide key investments to jump-start large projects that previously languished on the drawing boards, such as the reconstruction of the vital Route 6-10 interchange, to launch a truck-only tolling program to provide necessary funding to fix the state’s bridges, and to make important strides in improving safety, transit choice and utilization, and the impact of the state’s roads on the environment. RIDOT has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the Design-Build-Operate-Maintain (DBOM) contract for the truck-only tolling program, and expects to award it in the spring.

Upon the close of the 2016 Federal Fiscal Year (FFY), RIDOT put US$174m out for bid for construction. In the 2017 FFY, RIDOT is projected to initiate the procurement process for more than US$200m worth of road and bridge construction. Coupling those two years of RIDOT’s annual infrastructure program with the US$400m Route 6-10 interchange reconstruction, the US$100m of investment in the Providence Intermodal Transit Center, the US$40m new Pawtucket-Central Falls Train Station, US$34m in design-build contracts for Interstate bridges, US$38m for construction of the truck-only tolling system, and US$12m for the new Southern Rhode Island Travel Plaza and Transit Hub, RIDOT will have reached the US$1bn mark by this autumn.

“When we took office, Rhode Island had the worst bridges of any state in America. So we got to work,” explained Governor Gina M Raimondo. “We came up with a plan that allows us to fix more than 150 structurally deficient bridges in Rhode Island, and make repairs to another 500 bridges to prevent them from becoming deficient. Today, the construction industry is back at work rebuilding Rhode Island.”

RIDOT’s director, Peter Alviti Jr, commented, “At RIDOT we are laser-focused on building the best DOT in the country, one that will effectively achieve the Governor’s goal of getting projects planned, designed and built as quickly as possible. We now have a department capable of meeting those expectations, and delivering the high-quality transportation systems taxpayers are counting on us to deliver.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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