What better place than overlooking a smooth coat of asphalt with cars and trucks whizzing by to bring attention to $90 million of road work this year than the Cowesett Road bridge over Route 95?
Or was it?
There was no question that traffic was moving Thursday afternoon when federal, state and local officials gathered on the bridge to ceremoniously snip on State Director of Transportation Peter Alviti’s count of three a red ribbon. The honors were done by a lineup of officials, each wielding a pair of gold-painted scissors.
That was the photo op. It was the audio, however, that was largely lost to the hum of traffic below and the alternating flow of cars on Cowesett Road that had been narrowed to a single lane for the occasion.
With reporters huddled around him, Alviti said the work done this season put a “sizable dent in repaving roads.” An additional $100 million of work is planned next year, which is all part of the $4.7 billion, 10-year RhodeWorks program. Toll Gate and Centerville Roads are among the Warwick repaving projects to be addressed next year along with a Warwick section of Route 95 that wasn’t repaved this year, Alviti said. On the list, too, is the “95 dip” in Cranston before the Park Avenue overpass that will be filled and leveled.
Alviti praised federal support of the program, thanking the state’s Congressional delegation for their efforts in securing funding. Congressman Jim Langevin was present and spoke, although for the most part what he had to say was lost to the noise of traffic. Largely, his message was that the federal program needs to continue and that road repairs for the sake of safety need to be done sooner rather than later. He cited the need for bridge repairs and how these repair projects create jobs for Rhode Islanders.
Alviti introduced Mayor Joseph Solomon as “one of our strongest partners in the state.”
Solomon pointed out that road repaving this season has not been limited to state roads and that, in fact, by his estimation more city road repaving projects were undertaken this year than in many years. Apart from improving safety, Solomon said the work has helped improve tourism and business in the city.
“City streets are getting attention that is long overdue,” he said.
Alviti said most of the Warwick segment of Route 95 repaving consisting of six miles and all eight lanes had not been touched for 20 years. He put the cost of repaving that segment at $8.8 million.
Alviti called on Carlos Machado, FHWA division administrator, to speak. He focused on the Federal Highway Administration’s attention to safe roads. And, perhaps realizing the press event was tying up traffic on Cowesett Road if not having motorists on Route 95 staring upward to see what all those people were doing on the bridge, he was very brief.