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Rhode Island DOT and Congressional Delegation Break Ground on Cranston Canyon Project

CRANSTON, RI — U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti, and other state and local leaders gathered on Phenix Avenue in Cranston to break ground for the $85-million Cranston Canyon Project.

The project will address deteriorated bridges along the western end of Route 37 and its intersection with I-295 and make many safety improvements along the "canyon" section of I-295 — the nickname given for the rocky outcropping on this section of the Interstate. The improvements also will reduce chronic congestion issues on both highways, which reduces vehicle emissions.

The Cranston Canyon is a design-build project, and was awarded to Aetna Bridge with AECOM, the lead design firm. The design-build process is advantageous because it often provides innovative solutions to the construction of the project, including keeping traffic moving through these busy corridors with the least amount of disruption possible. It also allows design and construction activities to take place at the same time. This approach, in concert with the use of accelerated bridge construction methods, will shave a year off the construction schedule.

"RIDOT is able to move ahead with this project thanks in large part to the efforts of our Congressional delegation, which once more went to bat for us and helped secure a $21-million federal BUILD grant," Alviti said. "With these extra funds, we have been able to put together a very comprehensive project to solve traffic problems, fix deteriorated bridges, and make these highways safer; all in a single project."

"Anyone who has driven through the 'Cranston Canyon' section of I-295 when traffic is backed up knows it can be a commuter's congestion nightmare. But, soon, this nightmare will be a thing of the past. RIDOT will be adding a new third lane to I-295 North, helping to address that congestion and making this commute much more enjoyable and efficient. This project will also allow RIDOT to repair a number of structurally deficient bridges and boost traffic safety," said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Subcommittee. Reed helped create the BUILD grant program (formerly known as TIGER) and has led efforts to fund it.

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"Projects like this are why the Congressional delegation works so hard to land federal funding for infrastructure upgrades," Senator Whitehouse said. "I'm pleased federal dollars will help Rhode Islanders travel an important stretch of road more safely and efficiently, and glad to have partners like Senator Reed and Congressmen Langevin and Cicilline fighting with me in Washington to bring those dollars home."

Highlights of the Cranston Canyon Project include:

  • Rebuilding six bridges and building one new bridge along the Route 37 corridor west of Pontiac Avenue in Cranston
  • Creating a third lane at I-295 North with new pavement and minor widening, which will work as an auxiliary lane from the Route 37 interchange to the Route 6 interchange in Johnston
  • Shifting the ramp from Route 37 East to I-295 North from the high-speed lane to the right lane, improving safety and reducing conflicting movements
  • Repositioning the ramp from I-295 North to Route 37 West to eliminate a conflicting weave
  • Widening the ramp from Route 37 West to I-295 North to improve sight lines and reduce crashes

The Cranston Canyon project will be completed in 2026. It continues RIDOT's efforts to address all the bridges on the Route 37 corridor, representing a second phase which began in 2020 with the $79.5-million Route 37 Bridges Project. That project is addressing 15 bridges from Post Road to Pontiac Avenue and is scheduled to be finished in 2023.

Approximately 84,000 vehicles travel on I-295 North between Route 37 and Route 14 and 36,500 vehicles travel on Route 37, west of Pontiac Avenue. All construction projects are subject to changes in schedule and scope depending on needs, circumstances, findings, and weather.

The Cranston Canyon 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.

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