Rhode Island DOT announces $150 million project to improve heavily traveled Route 146 corridor

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Route 146 Intersection
Removing the traffic signal and building a bridge spanning the intersection of Rhode Island Route 146 and Sayles Hill Road is the first step in a project designed to improve the heavily traveled Route 146 corridor. (Courtesy: Rhode Island Department of Transportation)

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. — A Sept. 2 ceremony, held at the intersection of Route 146 and Sayles Hill Road, kicked off the first of the improvement projects planned for the Route 146 corridor, made possible by a $65 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant secured this summer by Rhode Island’s congressional delegation.

Present at the ceremony were Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti Jr., U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, and other state and local leaders.

“Today, we are announcing the start of relief for the 170,000 vehicles that navigate the bumps and ruts of Route 146 every day. Help is on the way. This is a critical transportation route that has gone unimproved for far too long,” Alviti said during the Sept. 2 event. “Once again, our congressional delegation has gone to bat for Rhode Island and delivered tens of millions of dollars in grant funding so we can properly address all our concerns with Route 146 in a single project. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

The estimated $150 million project will replace multiple bridges along the Route 146 corridor, repave 8 miles of roadway and correct numerous safety and congestion problems, including at the Sayles Hill Road interchange where the event took place.

“This federal investment will allow RIDOT to go beyond simply fixing what we have. It will lead to significant safety improvements, including the reconfiguration of the Sayles Hill Road intersection,” said Reed, ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD).

RIDOT’s project will remove the traffic signal where Route 146 meets Sayles Hill Road and build a bridge so the highway can pass freely over Sayles Hill Road. The intersection averages more than 85 crashes each year and is a source of significant congestion and travel delay. It is the only signalized intersection on the entire Route 146 highway corridor in Rhode Island.

“As anyone who lives in the northern part of the state will tell you, driving on 146 can be a real headache. I’m thrilled that RIDOT won its largest federal grant ever and is ready to get Rhode Islanders to work upgrading Route 146 with new bridges and a modernized design,” said Whitehouse, who authored the INFRA Program in 2015 to help meet the state’s need for large-scale infrastructure investments.

More than 171,000 vehicles travel Route 146 between Providence and Worcester each day.

“Improving Rhode Island’s roads promotes a robust local economy, enhances quality of life, and creates good employment opportunities,” Langevin said. “I am thankful for Sen. Whitehouse’s leadership in promoting federal investments through the INFRA grant program to address the wear and tear of vital roadways. Going forward, we must guarantee investments in Rhode Island’s future, like this project, proceed even in the face of financial challenges posed by COVID-19.”

Langevin also noted the importance of working together with fellow legislators and RIDOT to introduce legislation and funding for infrastructure, adding that the project also provides much-needed jobs.

“Rebuilding Rhode Island’s aging infrastructure is one of the most effective ways we can put Rhode Islanders back to work with good-paying jobs, grow our economy and ensure the safety of our commuters,” Cicilline said. “Our congressional delegation works together very effectively to make sure Rhode Island has the funding it needs for vital projects like this. I look forward for this work getting started and the difference it will make for Rhode Islanders when it’s completed.”

Other highlights of the Route 146 Project include:

  • Replacing two bridges along the corridor and doing preservation work on four others;
  • Building frontage roads for easy and safe access to businesses at the Sayles Hill Road interchange;
  • Repaving Route 146 from the Interstate 295 interchange to the Massachusetts state line;
  • Adding bus-on-shoulder accommodations along the southern end of Route 146 in North Providence and Providence;
  • Extending existing fiber-optic lines and Intelligent Transportation Systems/traffic monitoring from the Interstate 295 interchange to the Massachusetts state line;
  • Rebuilding the Route 146/Route 146A interchange, replacing dangerous U-turns with a diverging diamond interchange;
  • Extending the weave length for the Route 99 ramp and Route 146 south;
  • Improving the geometry of the Interstate 295 southbound off-ramp to Route 146;
  • Building new drainage systems; and
  • Replacing guardrail and making other safety improvements, such as wrong-way-driving detection systems.

RIDOT anticipates advertising for construction in late 2021, with construction starting in spring 2022. The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2025. All construction projects are subject to changes in schedule and scope depending on needs, circumstances, findings and weather.

The Route 146 Project is made possible by RhodeWorks, RIDOT’s initiative to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring the state’s transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair, promote economic development, and create jobs.

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