WAKEFIELD – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) celebrated the official completion of its Old Tower Hill Road project on Wednesday afternoon, which has been many months in the making.
The $3.9 million project not only included funds to repave a half mile stretch of roadway, reaching from Route 1 to Dale Carlia Corner, but safety improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike. These new safety improvements include traffic signals, crosswalks and a bike lane in both directions. The sidewalks on either side of the road are also wider and have new curbing, making them ADA-compliant. The island medians which now separate much of the roadway also help to better control traffic flow.
“These improvements will provide a safer, smoother and more accessible street for everyone who drives, walks or bikes along this critical corridor,” said U. S. Sen. Jack Reed.
As the ranking members of the appropriations subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development, which oversees federal funding on transportation projects like this one, Reed has been given a great deal of credit for helping transform these ideas into reality.
While this project was made possible through the hard work and efforts of elected officials at every level of government, according to RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr., none of this would have been possible without the support at the federal level. The lion’s share of the funding for this project, and many others like it across the state, was made available thanks to the support of Sen. Reed, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin and Congressman David Cicilline.
“There’s a lot of moving parts here, for a small project, and there were many people who helped along the way,” Alviti said.
The finished product, a space in which residents know they “can walk safely, ride a bike safely and drive safely,” is a true asset to the community, according to Reed.
“I will continue to do my best to get the resources back here, to Rhode Island,” he added, “because I know if they come back home, they’re going to be well spent.”
Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (Dist. 33 – Narragansett, South Kingstown), who helped to provide state funding towards this project thanks to her support of the Rhode Works Project, was blown away by the finished product.
She hopes community members driving, biking and walking down this new and improved stretch of roadway see it for the truly collaborative effort it was between the state and the federal government.
For Town Council President Abel Collins, the cause of improving accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists is one that’s near and dear to his heart.
“Long before I ever considered running for office, I was active locally in South Kingstown, getting the town to pass the complete streets resolution,” Collins said, before he took the initiative to the state level. “It’s been really neat to see how RIDOT has incorporated the complete streets mindset.”
“This project is really the hallmark of that evolution,” he added. “This project is head and shoulders above the rest, in my mind.”
In addition to improving safety and accessibility, Collins also commended the ways in which green infrastructure was incorporated into the design. In order to better treat stormwater before it makes its way into local rivers and streams within the watershed, bioretention basins – built into the sidewalk designs along Old Tower Hill Road – will work to remove harmful contaminants.
He especially thanked the South Kingstown Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee for their leadership and efforts toward how the project could both improve safety and environmental impact – and RIDOT for their collaborative efforts in realizing this vision.
“It’s been heartwarming, and I’m amazed that it’s done on time and on budget,” Collins said.
“Old Tower Hill Road is really the gateway to our town in many respects,” he added. “This is the first place that many of our visitors see as they come into town, and it’s nice that we finally have a street that’s befitting from being that gateway.”
Other elected officials in attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony included Congressman Langevin and Councilwoman Deb Kelso – both of whom voiced their congratulations to the department of transportation for another successfully completed project.
Sen. Whitehouse and Congressman Cicilline, who could not be in attendance that afternoon, also shared messages of congratulations for another successfully finished infrastructure project.
“Wakefield is already a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family,” Cicilline wrote. “The completion of this project on Old Tower Hill Road improves one of the village’s busiest sections of commerce.”
“Rhode Islanders know we need to do more to fix our crumbling infrastructure and bring it into the 21st Century,” he added. “That’s why I was proud to support the Moving Forward Act, which the house passed earlier this year to provide $1.5 trillion for local infrastructure projects.”
This particular project was made possible by RhodeWorks, the department of transportation’s ongoing commitment to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring the Ocean State’s transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair, promote economic development and create jobs.