NORTH SMITHFIELD – Despite appeals from legislators, the State Planning Council has officially approved a delay to plans to repave a badly damaged stretch of pavement on Route 146 for two more years.
The segment – which stretches between Route 295 and the 146A split – won’t be repaved until 2024 following an amendment to the 10-year State Transportation Improvement Program approved last week.
The news comes following appeals over the past several years by some 20 northern Rhode Island legislators, who hoped to see the project moved up in priority on the STIP.
The effort to shorten the timeline for improvements to the road has been spearheaded by Rep. Brian Newberry, who described the stretch, which connects northern Rhode Island to the rest of the state, as a “disaster” in a letter to Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti in August.
Newberry, who represents District 48 in North Smithfield and Burrillville, first began ringing alarm bells on the urgency of repaving the road in 2018. His letter last year requesting that DOT move the project up from 2022 to an earlier date was signed by 20 of his peers, but ultimately failed to prompt state transportation officials to take action.
Instead, the additional two-year delay was proposed in June.
The six-term legislator repeated his plea for action last month, noting that “To allow this road to remain in its current deplorable condition is unconscionable and a violation of RIDOT’s basic duty, which is to ensure quality roads for our citizens.”
Changes to STIP, approved in an 18-1 vote on Thursday, Aug. 29, also include a reduction to funding and changes to timelines for road, bridge, bike and pedestrian projects throughout the state.