RI gets 10-year transportation plan approved

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is celebrating the federal approval of its ten-year transportation plan — a rarity among states. It’s only the third state in the country to get one approved. Most other states’ plans tend to think only four or five years down the road.

RIDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) presented the finished plan Thursday afternoon at the Department’s headquarters in Providence.

RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said the $4.7 billion plan is the backbone of the RhodeWorks infrastructure projects proposed by Gov. Gina Raimondo earlier this year and includes funding to fix 175 structurally deficient bridges in the state.

The plan’s priorities include managing assets, rebuilding ailing bridges, improved operations, issues fixed with pavements, and large public transit projects — including the “Downtown Providence Enhanced Bus Circulator” on some of the old I-195 land — as well as alternatives to transportation.

Carlos Machado of the FHWA told reporters some 65 percent of the state’s roads need repairs, including the dreaded 6/10 connector, which he himself drives every day; he said the state can’t afford to “kick the can down the road” anymore on replacing it. It echoes Gov. Raimondo’s order to RIDOT last month to fast-track the $400 million connector project as a public safety issue.

The original ten-year proposal weighed in at a groaning 632 pages, but the finished plan today now totals a slightly more svelte 413 pages. A binder of the plan was exhibited at Thursday’s event. The bulk of those pages are funding tables — dictating where all the money will come from.