Above: RIDOT’s proposed plan to connect Route 95 and Route 4.
The federal dollars will provide 60% of money for the long-awaited project
If you are driving north on Route 95 and you want to head south on Route 4, ever since Route 4 was built in 1972, you have had to get off 95, drive south on Route 2 a short distance to Division Street, make a left turn and drive another short distance to the Route 4 south onramp. The same, in reverse, if you want to go from Route 4 north to Route 95 south.
Which makes for a lot more car and tractor trailer traffic at the heart of a major East Greenwich intersection.
The traffic wasn’t so bad when Route 4 first opened. There were fewer commuters living in South County and Quonset was still a Navy base. Today, Quonset Business Park is a major industrial park, with the state’s only that’s home to more than 200 companies and 14,000 jobs, with tractor-trailer trucks routinely traveling to and fro.
The “missing move” has been on the project list at the state Dept. of Transportation for many years but without funding that construction was always in some unidentified future.
That changed last week, with an announcement by Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Reps. Seth Magaziner and Gabe Amo, along with Gov. Dan McKee and other state officials at a press conference at Quonset Jan. 31 that Rhode Island’s Washington delegation was able to secure an $81 million grant – 62 percent of the estimated $130 million cost – to build the “missing move.”
The project was one of 37 big-ticket infrastructure projects across the country that was given the green light and awarded federal funding from a pot of $4.9 billion through the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (MEGA) grant program and the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program.
This is the largest single grant the state has ever received for a project,” said RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin III earlier this week. DOT still needs to hire a contractor. St. Martin said they would advertise the project in the spring, with a plan to begin work in spring 2024.
In addition to the work at in Warwick and East Greenwich around Routes 95 and 4, part of this project is to build three missing ramps to improve access for truck and freight operators approaching Quonset.
According to RIDOT, the connections will help keep industry freight traffic off of local roads, reducing congestion, noise, and pollution in residential neighborhoods, while creating more accessibility and growth opportunities for the industrial zone around Quonset. RIDOT estimates that the project will collectively reduce approximately 500 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year.
The Quonset Business Park contains Rhode Island’s only publicly owned port, the Port of Davisville, which is one of the nation’s largest points of import of new automobiles. According to the 2023 Report on the Economic Impact of Quonset Business Park, Quonset generates $5.9 billion in economic output – representing roughly 8.3 percent of the state’s GDP – and $1.7 billion in household income for Rhode Island families. Quonset also generates about $169 million in state and local tax revenue annually.
“For decades travelers in Rhode Island have had to get off I-95 and wind their way to Route 4 on local roads. With this connection, they can travel seamlessly,” said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.