Major Bridge Rebuilding Project Cost Soars in Providence

When the Trump Administration scrapped the U.S. Department of Transportation's FASTLANE grant program, the state of Rhode Island decided to seek a public-private partnership for its I-95 bridge replacement project.
December 29, 2017, 12pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The estimated cost of replacing the decrepit Route 95 North bridges and interchange in the center of Providence is growing.

Patrick Anderson reports that the estimated cost of the project has ballooned from $226.1 million to $342.9 million.

The state last month applied for a $60-million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “INFRA” program for the reconstruction of the Route 95 Northbound Providence Viaduct, roughly the same project it sought a $59-million grant for a year ago under the Obama administration’s predecessor “FASTLANE” program.

But the estimated cost of the underlying project — replacing the decrepit Route 95 North bridges and interchange in the center of the city while adding new travel lanes — has grown from $226.1 million to $342.9 million, according to the respective grant applications from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

According to Anderson, much of the new cost for the project can be traced to a new financing structure for the project—one that would bring in a private investor and pay a 15 percent return. The new financing structure is designed to "take advantage of President Donald Trump’s preference for public-private infrastructure partnerships," reports Anderson. The article includes more on the planning and engineering details of the project, as well as the policy changes at the federal level that led the state to seek private financing.

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Published on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 in Providence Journal
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