Today, along the Seekonk River in the City of East Providence, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee joined Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) officials and other Federal, State and local dignitaries to celebrate the completion of Waterfront Drive. This new 1.1 mile-roadway directly links Warren Avenue to Dexter Road, and provides a catalyst for future business growth within a previously underutilized section of East Providence through an improved connection to I-195.
"When we can simultaneously build infrastructure and business, it is a good day in Rhode Island," said Governor Chafee. "Thanks to this project, we are not only providing a new road, but also better access to existing businesses and in turn, better access for new business as well."
Waterfront Drive represents a municipal/State/Federal partnership, involving the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Economic Development Administration (USEDA), RIDOT, and the City of East Providence.
"The work completed at Waterfront Drive shows that Federal funding in partnership with State and local stakeholders can make a tangible difference in improving infrastructure and revitalizing neighborhoods," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who helped secure $4.8 million in Federal funds to support the project. "This is a smart investment in putting more people to work to strengthen our community and bolster the local economy."
"Investing in East Providence's transportation infrastructure improves safety and creates opportunities for economic development," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "This new roadway will help spur future business growth in the area, bolstering both the city and state economies. I commend RIDOT for completing this important phase of the Waterfront development plan."
In accordance with "The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act," which became law in 2007, RIDOT worked with the URI Transportation Center and URI's College of the Environment and Life Sciences to use the Waterfront Drive project as a pilot for the State's Diesel Retrofit Program. Early findings are quite positive, showing reductions in the amount of soot released into the air from construction vehicles. These initial results will help RIDOT develop a strategy for implementing emissions reduction requirements in future contracts, which will aid in improving the State's overall air quality.
"By constructing this new roadway, we are improving access for the community in an environmentally conscious way," said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis.
Waterfront Drive now welcomes industrial traffic, while helping to divert the unnecessary truck traffic from the surrounding residential neighborhoods. It also enhances traffic circulation in the immediate area.
Complementing the goals of the City's Comprehensive Plan and Waterfront Development District Plan, the new roadway helps ensure that the currently underutilized properties of the waterfront once again become vital economic resources and that these revitalized properties remain sustainable over time.
"This is a great day for East Providence. This partnership involving the City, the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the R.I. Department of Transportation will usher in an economic development opportunity on a scale our City and State has not seen for decades," said East Providence Mayor Bruce Rogers.
RIDOT first built .4 miles of Waterfront Drive, from Bold Point Park to Warren Avenue in 2008. This latest 1.1-mile segment stretches from Warren Avenue to Dexter Road. RIDOT has future plans to build another two miles from Waterfront Drive in East Providence to Beverage Hill Avenue in Pawtucket, along the P&W Railroad line. In addition, RIDOT hopes to continue the project up to Newport Avenue in Pawtucket.
Heidi Gudmundson 401-222-1362, Ext. 4009