Pawtucket Times: A tale of two cities' road improvements

by Joseph Fitzgerald

Dexter Street getting $3.9 million worth of necessary work


CENTRAL FALLS — Gov. Gina Raimondo and members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation joined city officials from Central Falls and Pawtucket Monday to break ground on a $3.9 million federally-funded roadway improvement project along Dexter Street in Central Falls and Pawtucket.

The long-awaited, roughly one-year project will see state Department of Transportation crews resurface the roadway from School Street in Central Falls to Goff Avenue in Pawtucket, replace sidewalks and curbing, upgrade existing traffic signal equipment, install stamped asphalt crosswalks, plant new trees, add new roadway signs and pavement markings, and make minor drainage improvements. Work also includes repairs to the Dexter Street Bridge, which carries Dexter Street over the Amtrak and Providence & Worcester rail lines in Pawtucket.

“This project is a great example of putting shovels in the ground to get Rhode Islanders back to work," said Raimondo. "With this project, we're showing that Rhode Island can be a leader in making smart investments that enhance our infrastructure and encourage long-term business growth.”

"The revitalization of Dexter Street will be the cause for a lot of smiles among business owners and residents in Central Falls. These improvements are the foundation to an improved economic climate in this city," said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa. "Downtown Dexter Street is one of the most vital economic areas in this community and I'm thankful that our governor, RIDOT, and our federal delegation have come together to solve a major issue in Central Falls."

Joining Raimondo and Diossa at the groundbreaking ceremony at the corner of Dexter and Hunt Streets were U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, state Reps. Selby Maldonado, Elizabeth A. Crowley and Carlos E. Tobon, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr., RIDOT Deputy Director Peter Garino, and Dylan Zelazo, chief of staff and spokesman for Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien.

“We spend a lot of time talking about our highways and bridges, but the reality is our main streets also need attention because they are the fabric of our communities,” Alviti said. “While we’re glad to finally get this project moving forward, we realize that there is much more that needs to be done around the state. For every Dexter Street there are several other projects that we simply can’t get to. I look forward to working with the governor and the General Assembly leadership to pass an infrastructure plan that brings new jobs and investment back to the Ocean State.”

According to Alviti, the project includes a $3.9 million contract awarded to D’Ambra Construction and a 5 percent budget contingency of $195,000. The project is scheduled to reach substantial completion in fall 2016.

Work began last week with surveying, tree removal abd sidewalk replacement. The contractor will start at Goff Avenue and head northbound toward School Street, working in 500-foot sections at a time.

This will require partial lane closures on Dexter Street Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with parking restrictions within the work zone. Throughout the process, Alviti says the RIDOT will work with the city to ensure that impacts to residents and businesses are kept to a minimum wherever possible.

The curbing, sidewalks, drive-ways and pedestrian signals are expected to be completed this year, with the bridge repairs and resurfacing to take place during the 2016 construction season. Once the resurfacing is completed, RIDOT will also add share the road markings known as “sharrows,” a marking used to raise motorists’ awareness to the potential of cyclists on the road.

“These road improvements are good news for everyone in Central Falls and Pawtucket, and a great example of how federal and state resources are being put to work. Rhode Island, like every state, has a number of troubled bridges,” said Reed, the ranking member of the Seante Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. “We’ve got to invest in modernizing our aging infrastructure and keeping it in a state of good repair. Deferring needed repairs only makes them more costly. Congress must move with a sense of urgency must move with a sense of urgency to find long-term, sustainable solutions for our pressing infrastructure needs.”

“Improvements like these are smart government investments. This project will make the roadway safer and more usable for cyclists and pedestrians, and reduce the wear and tear on vehicles that costs Rhode Islanders an average of $637 in repairs every year,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “I applaud Governor Raimondo and her administration for pushing for infrastructure upgrades across Rhode Island, and I promise to keep fighting for federal funding to allow the state to do more.”

“Investing in infrastructure projects like this one is one of the most effective ways to create hobs and make Rhode Island an even more attractive place to live, work, or go to school,” said Cicilline. “it is critical that Congress approve a long-term transportation bill that will allow us to continue rebuilding and repairing our crumbling bridges, roads, and schools here in Rhode Island. I look forward to continuing to fight hard to achieve this important objective.”

In his comments, Zelazo noted the need to improve upon the current condition of bridges and roads, particularly gateways vital to connectivity between neighboring communities.

“The Dexter Street bridge in one of the primary gateways linking Pawtucket and Central Falls,” he said. “This infrastructure improvement project and others like it throughout our communities are positioning Pawtucket and Central Falls for future growth and development.”

Pawtucket is already underway in addressing the roads and infrastructure within that city. This past November, voters overwhelmingly approved a bond that will see over 30 miles of city streets repaved and resurfaced. Those repairs have commenced and will be ongoing throughout the end of the summer and into the fall.

Grebien was unable to attend Monday’s groundbreaking, but he issued a statement later in the day, saying: “Dexter Street bridge is one of the primary gateways linking Pawtucket and Central Falls. This infrastructure improvement project and others like it throughout our communities are positioning Pawtucket and Central Falls for future growth and development.”

“This project is a great example of what can be accomplished when cities partner with each other and the state and federal government for the benefits of our residents and the business community,” he said.


Originally published in the July 21, 2015 edition of the Pawtucket Times.

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