Updated July 2 at 5:02pm

Costly bridge work looming

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

The Pawtucket River Bridge is illuminated, the Sakonnet River Bridge is tolled, and the Providence Viaduct is under construction.

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TRANSPORTATION

Costly bridge work looming

Posted:

The Pawtucket River Bridge is illuminated, the Sakonnet River Bridge is tolled, and the Providence Viaduct is under construction.

But there’s another Rhode Island bridge, or set of bridges, that needs work and could cost taxpayers more than any of them to fix: the Route 6/Route 10 interchange in Providence.

At an estimated cost of up to $500 million, it is the most expensive unfunded highway construction project on the state’s to-do list and could be one of the toughest to find the resources for.

“The state has been working on reconstruction of the interchange for many years and it has always been put off for lack of available funds,” said R.I. Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis. “Our ability to go ahead now is contingent on a financing plan for the whole state. We are putting together a better bridge program.”

In ongoing General Assembly discussions about finding the best way to pay for transportation infrastructure, the Route 6/Route 10 interchange looms over the debate.

Repairing it is expected to cost more than twice as much as the new Sakonnet bridge, where local outrage over tolls nearly brought down the state budget last year and triggered the creation of the special commission studying transportation funding.

Few argue that the state needs to do something about the interchange, with its cracking concrete and rusted rebar.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has said it doesn’t want good money thrown after bad and won’t allow more federal highway dollars to be used for temporary repairs to the structure.

That means the state will have to spend more of its own funds to make the repairs needed to keep the highways open.

Over the last five years, the state has spent $14.6 million on three projects along the Route 6/Route 10 connector in Providence, including $8 million for the replacement of the Union Avenue Bridge, $1.8 million to shore up the Huntington Viaduct Bridge, and $4.8 million for the removal of the Magnolia Bridge.

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