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By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer
(Updated, 1:30 p.m.)
PROVIDENCE – In order to assist the city of Providence with improvements to its port, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee has announced that the state has partnered with the city to take control of a $10.5 million grant to purchase two mobile, barge-based cranes.
On Sept. 19, representatives of both Providence and the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, on behalf of the state, signed an amendment to the agreement awarding the grant in order to make the relationship official.
Originally applied for and awarded to the city, concern over Providence’s financial condition delayed release of the grant. In a February news conference called in response to the city’s fiscal crisis, Mayor Angel Taveras said the city would soon be bankrupt if it did not receive specific concessions and payments. That set off alarms with federal officials ready to release the funds.
Rhode Island assumed the partnership at the city’s request, to aid with the capital city’s fiscal standing and to push the modernization project forward.
The $10.5-million Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery grant - commonly referred to as a TIGER II grant - was awarded to the city in October 2010. TIGER grants are issued through the U.S. Deptartment of Transportation.
Since the Taveras news conference, representatives of ProvPort have met with the DOT’s Maritime Administration to clarify and establish the final arrangements of the grant.
The planned improvements will provide two mobile cranes, an advantage that allows the port some flexibility. The cranes will also increase the port’s ability to receive bulk materials and accommodate container operations. The port’s existing 30-year-old cranes have been prone to breakdowns and have periodically been out of commission, sometimes for extended periods of time.
According to the Governor’s office, the project will sustain the existing employment and allow for job growth moving forward. The total cost of the crane project is $19.4 million and ProvPort is still responsible for the remaining $8.9 million.