NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — New England’s longest suspension bridge which connects Newport to Jamestown is getting a major upgrade.
Rhode Island’s congressional delegation announced Thursday that they secured $82.5 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s INFRA Grant Program.
The upgrades will include improvements to the bridge’s deck, suspension system,and towers. It’s estimated that this will extend the life of the bridge by 50 to 75 years.
Funding will be used to repair the tower elevators, repaint the towers, preserve the cabling and replace the finger joints that accommodate movement in the bridge. Acoustic monitoring will provide data on the bridge’s condition and additional cameras and sensors will provide greater physical security.
The bridge will have also have a dehumidification system to prolong the structure from rusting.
“The Pell Bridge is the Ocean State’s most iconic landmark, and we will be able to keep it that way for at least an additional half-century thanks to this enormous federal grant,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said. “There is much to be done to bring the bridge into the twenty-first century.”
Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti sits on the state’s Bridge and Turnpike board, which will be planning and managing the project.
“The $82 million is a very welcome and timely investment in an old bridge that is in need of some attention and this provides the capital for us to do that,” Alviti said.
Alviti added that the project should not affect the bridge’s toll rate now that 80% of the construction is federally funded.
“That certainly takes the burden off the taxpayers and the toll payers,” he said.
The Pell Bridge opened in 1969 and was dedicated in honor of the late U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell. The bridge, which carries four lanes of traffic across Narragansett Bay, is operated by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.