RIDOT: Bridge condition slowly improving in RI

RIDOT Smith Hill sign_443783

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The condition of Rhode Island’s bridges is slowly improving as the RhodeWorks transportation-funding program enters its second year, according to a new report from the R.I. Department of Transportation.

RIDOT is responsible for 8.83 million square feet of bridge decks across the state. As of June, 76.5% of that deck area was structurally sufficient, up from 75.2% when the department began publishing monthly tracking numbers in April 2016. A total of 228 bridges were structurally deficient as of June, down from 247 last October.

The RhodeWorks program calls for spending $4.7 billion on the state’s infrastructure from 2016 through 2026, partly funded by a new system of truck tolls that is scheduled to begin operating later this year. The law, approved in February 2016, is one of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s highest-profile first-term initiatives.

By 2025, RIDOT wants the state’s bridge deck area to be 90% structurally sufficient, the minimum federal requirement. The department appears on track to meet its goal for 2017, which is to reach 77% sufficiency by Sept. 30. The goal for next year is 76% as of Sept. 30, 2018, and then 81% by the same date in 2019.

RIDOT now expects to put $238 million in construction awards out to bid by Sept. 30, the last day of the federal fiscal year, an increase from its earlier estimate of $219 million. That would make 2017 RIDOT’s biggest construction season since 2009, when spending soared to $268 million due to the Obama stimulus law.

According to RIDOT, all but one of the 43 construction projects the department has started since October 2015 are on time and on budget, though there are still a handful of overdue, unfinished projects that started before that date.

RIDOT also said Cardi Corp. has gotten by far the largest share of the $92 million in constructions contracts awarded since last October: $32 million, or about 35%. The runner-up is J.H. Lynch & Sons Inc., which has won $14 million. Also receiving nearly $10 million were John Rocchio Corp. and S&R Corp.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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