Washington Bridge Project Costs Surge to $455 Million, Exceeding Previous Estimates

Governor Dan McKee announced today the State of Rhode Island’s pursuit of a U.S. Department of Transportation National Infrastructure Project Assistance discretionary grant, colloquially known as a Mega Grant, to alleviate a significant portion of the financial burden associated with the $455 million reconstruction of the Washington Bridge.

The State’s application, bolstered by letters of support from the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation and private partners, seeks an ambitious $220.9 million in funding. This strategic move aligns with the Mega Grant program, established under the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, designed to bolster large-scale transportation projects that may otherwise face financial constraints while promising substantial economic, mobility, or safety benefits. The federal government has earmarked a substantial $1.7 billion for Mega Grants during this latest funding round.

Governor McKee also submitted a budget amendment today, proposing the authorization of a GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles) bond as an additional funding stream for the bridge project. The GARVEE bond model enables the State to secure loans against future allocations of federal transportation infrastructure funding, catering to projects that surpass the state’s annual transportation funding allotments.

In a proactive “belt and suspenders strategy,” the budget amendment greenlights a GARVEE bond of up to $334.6 million to ensure ample financing for the bridge endeavor, should Rhode Island fail to secure the Mega Grant. Notably, the State anticipates borrowing significantly less than the full $334.6 million if awarded the Mega Grant.

Diverse funding sources have been earmarked to support the demolition and construction phases. These include $37 million in repurposed federal funding previously allocated for the Washington Bridge, $40 million from anticipated Motor Fuel Vehicle Tax revenues, $20 million reallocated from American Rescue Plan Act State Fiscal Recovery Funds, and an additional $23.6 million from supplementary sources if necessary, beyond gas tax and SFRF contributions, to meet state matching fund requirements.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has revised its cost estimates for the demolition and design-rebuild processes, incorporating scope adjustments, contingency funds, and construction incentives. The updated projections amount to $40.52 million for demolition and $368.3 million for design-build activities, a figure informed by collaborative consultations with GM2 and VN Engineers, RIDOT’s owner’s representatives.

In addition to reconstruction costs, the State anticipates an expenditure of approximately $46 million for emergency expenses, encompassing stabilization efforts for the old bridge and funding provisions for state and municipal safety and transportation-related requirements.

The new $455 million price tag is significantly higher than DOT Director Peter Alviti’s March estimate of $250-$300 million




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