Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti, Jr., U.S. Senator Jack Reed, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin, Congressman David Cicilline, and other state and local leaders gathered on the side of Route 146 in North Smithfield today to highlight the much-needed improvements to Route 146 made possibly by a $65 million INFRA grant secured this summer by Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation.

The estimated $150 million project will replace multiple bridges along the Route 146 corridor, repave 8 miles of roadway and correct numerous safety and congestion problems – including at the Sayles Hill Road interchange where today’s event took place.

RIDOT’s project will remove the traffic signal where Route 146 meets Sayles Hill Road and build a bridge so the highway can pass freely over Sayles Hill Road. This intersection averages more than 85 crashes per year and is a source of significant congestion and travel delay. It is the only signalized intersection on the entire Route 146 highway corridor in Rhode Island.

“Today, we are announcing the start of relief for the 170,000 vehicles that navigate the bumps and ruts of Route 146 every day. Help is on the way. This is a critical transportation route that has gone unimproved for far too long,” Director Alviti said. “Once again our Congressional delegation has gone to bat for Rhode Island and delivered tens of millions of dollars in grant funding so we can properly address all our concerns with Route 146 in a single project. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

“This federal investment will allow RIDOT to go beyond simply fixing what we have. It will lead to significant safety improvements, including the reconfiguration of the Sayles Hill Road intersection,” said Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD).

“I developed the INFRA program to clear our national backlog of major infrastructure projects, including the overhaul of Route 146,” said Senator Whitehouse, who authored the INFRA Program in 2015 to help meet Rhode Island’s need for large-scale infrastructure investments. “As anyone who lives in the northern part of the state will tell you, driving on 146 can be a real headache. I’m thrilled that RIDOT won its largest federal grant ever and is ready to get Rhode Islanders to work upgrading Route 146 with new bridges and a modernized design.”

“I’m thrilled to join my Congressional colleagues and state officials in beginning long-anticipated improvements along Route 146,” said Congressman Langevin. “Improving Rhode Island’s roads promotes a robust local economy, enhances quality of life, and creates good employment opportunities. I am thankful for Senator Whitehouse’s leadership in promoting federal investments through the INFRA grant program to address the wear and tear of vital roadways. Going forward, we must guarantee investments in Rhode Island’s future, like this project proceed even in the face of financial challenges posed by COVID-19. As Rhode Island and states across the nation face budget shortfalls, I will be working with Director Alviti and my colleagues to introduce legislation ensuring federal highway funds continue to be available to cash-strapped states and that good-paying construction jobs remain in the Ocean State.”

“Rebuilding Rhode Island’s aging infrastructure is one of the most effective ways we can put Rhode Islanders back to work with good-paying jobs, grow our economy, and ensure the safety of our commuters,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Our Congressional delegation works together very effectively to make sure Rhode Island has the funding it needs for vital projects like this. I look forward for this work getting started and the difference it will make for Rhode Islanders when it’s completed.”

Other highlights of the project include: 

  • Replacing two bridges along the corridor and doing preservation work on four others
  • Building frontage roads for easy and safe access to businesses at the Sayles Hill Road interchange
  • Repaving Route 146 from the I-295 interchange to the Massachusetts state line
  • Adding bus-on-shoulder accommodations along the southern end of Route 146 in North Providence and Providence
  • Extending existing fiber optic lines and Intelligent Transportation Systems/traffic monitoring from the I-295 interchange to the Massachusetts state line
  • Rebuilding the Route 146/Route 146A interchange, removing dangerous U-turns using a diverging diamond interchange
  • Extending the weave length for the Route 99 Ramp and Route 146 south
  • Improving the geometry of the I-295 southbound off-ramp to Route 146
  • Building new drainage systems
  • Replacing guardrail and making other safety improvements such as wrong way driving detection systems

More than 171,000 vehicles travel Route 146 between Providence and Worcester each day.

Design work is well underway and RIDOT anticipates advertising for construction in late 2021 with construction starting in spring 2022. Construction on the entire project will be complete in 2025.

All construction projects are subject to changes in schedule and scope depending on needs, circumstances, findings, and weather.

The Route 146 Project is made possible by RhodeWorks, RIDOT’s ongoing commitment to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair, promote economic development, and create jobs. Learn more at www.ridot.net/RhodeWorks.