PROVIDENCE — East Providence was among the first municipalities to submit plans and request access to cash through the new Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving Fund, a program created and passed as part of the 2013 legislative session.
In a joint release, Speaker of the House Gordon Fox and General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo, who along with the assistance of General Assembly leadership including House Finance Committee Chairman Helio Melo (D-Dist. 64, East Providence) initiated the legislation, announced 13 cities and towns had inquired about the program.
The goal of the Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving Fund, was quickly implemented by the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency and the Department of Transportation, is to take direct action on economic growth, while improving Rhode Island’s locally maintained roads and bridges.
“As leaders, our top priority is getting our economy moving again,” said Treasurer Raimondo. “By implementing an innovative and cost-saving alternative for cities and towns to finance their road and bridge improvements, we are supporting an important economic cornerstone for our state and creating jobs.”
“We have taken a strategic policy proposal and turned it into action,” added Speaker Fox. “By establishing a sustainable funding stream, municipalities will be able to make long-term plans separate from the uncertainty of the annual budget appropriations process. It will also help the construction trades plan for steady work, keeping projects more cost-effective.”
East Providence Department of Public Works Director Steve Coutu said the city submitted four applications. They include projects to repair Forbes Street, North Broadway (Roger Williams Avenue to Greenwood Avenue), Commercial Way and Crescent View Avenue.
The Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving Fund is administered by the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency. The General Assembly budget included $7 million to start the fund. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation will now prioritize the municipal submissions from an engineering perspective.
Clean Water is expected to make financing decisions by the beginning of 2014, in time for the spring construction season. This is a familiar process for Clean Water, who partners with the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management to finance projects through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund respectively.
The other municipalities to submit projects for review were: Barrington, East Greenwich, New Shoreham, Cumberland, Burrillville, Warwick, Narraganset, Newport, Pawtucket, Westerly, Coventry and Middletown. The proposals range from repaving to bridge reconstruction.
The Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving Fund: Builds on the success of the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency, an expansion modeled after other states; Provides municipal access to capital at lower-rates for long-range planning; Provides local budget relief by lowering annual debt service payments; Creates economic opportunities for the construction trades and their suppliers; Continues the momentum of pension reform: The state is viewed positively by investors and can have affordable access to bond markets for important infrastructure funding, and there is more room in the budget to consider similar proposals.