RITBA Unveils Ten-Year Plan

[Editor: This is the text of an August 10, 2016, news release from the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA).]

RITBA Releases Ten-Year Capital Plan

Comprehensive Plan Will Maintain Safety of the Four Bridges under RITBA’s Jurisdiction

JAMESTOWN, R.I. — The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) Board of Directors recently voted to approve the 2017 Ten-Year Renewal and Replacement Plan (Ten-Year Plan).

“Our number one priority here at RITBA is safety”, stated Buddy Croft, Executive Director of the RITBA. “We maintain four bridges that sit in salt water and are critical to commerce, tourism and the quality of life of the people that use them. It is extremely important that we remain vigilant, maintain, and extend the life of these bridges so the motoring public knows they are safe. This is an expensive undertaking but these are costs we must incur.”

The Ten–Year Capital Plan was developed through a comprehensive and thorough review and assessment of all of the assets owned and maintained by RITBA. These assets include: the Newport Pell Bridge, The Mount Hope Bridge, the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge, the Sakonnet River Bridge, 2.7 miles of R.I. Route 138 from RT 1A in North Kingston to the Newport Pell Bridge and the administration and maintenance facilities of RITBA. The process of developing the Ten–Year Capital Plan included numerous studies, inspections, surveys and assessments including hands-on inspections of critical bridge elements. The inspections were performed in compliance with National Bridge Inspection Standards and were performed by RITBA staff and various consulting engineering firms.

The total cost of the Ten–Year Capital Plan over the ten years is $223,417,000 ($223 million). The average annual cost is $22 million. RITBA will use bonding authority as needed to manage the financial aspects of this plan. The cost of the Ten–Year Capital Plan (including bond repayment) will be funded through ongoing toll revenue and RITBA’s annual share of the state gasoline tax ($00.035 cents per gallon – 3.5 ¢). The Ten–Year Capital Plan details the scheduled capital improvements along with associated estimates of engineering and construction costs.

The breakdown of the budget is as follows:

  • 52% Newport Pell Bridge
  • 23% Mount Hope Bridge
  • 12% Jamestown Verrazano Bridge
  • 6% Sakonnet River Bridge
  • 4% RITBA facilities
  • 3% RI Rt. 138 connector

About the Plan

The Newport Pell Bridge

  • This bridge was completed in 1969. It is the longest suspension bridge in New England. It cost $55 million to build. It is estimated it would cost $1.5 billion to replace this bridge.
  • Roughly 52% of the anticipated expenditures over the 10 year period of the Plan are designated for the Newport Pell Bridge.
  • A majority of the repairs (55%) planned for this bridge are for the bridge deck. The bridge deck being 47 years old has outlived its originally predicted useful life. The constant attention by RITBA to the inspection, repair and maintenance of the bridge deck has greatly extended the life of the bridge deck. RITBA must continue this effort as replacing the bridge deck is a complex, expensive and disruptive task.
  • 21% of the work will be for steel superstructure repairs and retrofits.
  • 9% of the work will be for bearing replacement. Rocker bearing support the trusses, girders and pre-stressed beams.

The Mount Hope Bridge

  • This historic bridge was opened in 1929. It is 87 years old and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • At the time of its construction it was the largest suspension bridge in New England. The bridge has only one travel lane in each direction.
  • 44% of the budget for this bridge is for steel superstructure repairs and retrofits.
  • 24% of the budget is for bridge deck repairs to avoid a complete deck replacement. Because the Mt Hope is such a narrow two-lane bridge, if the entire bridge deck needed to be replaced, it might require taking the bridge out of service entirely for an extended period of time or necessitate extreme traffic restrictions. This bridge deck repair will minimize as much traffic disruption as possible.
  • 20% of the budget for the Mount Hope Bridge is for main cable rehabilitation and dehumidification.

The Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge

  • The Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge was completed in 1992 and the General Assembly transferred authority of this bridge to RITBA in 2013.
  • This new bridge replaced the previous bridge which was declared unsafe.
  • The work will include:
    • Underwater repair to the piers
    • Superstructure crack repairs
    • Pedestrian and crash rail repairs
    • Bridge deck and joint repairs

The Sakonnet River Bridge

  • The Sakonnet River Bridge was completed in 2012 and the General Assembly transferred authority of this bridge to RITBA in 2013.
  • Only 6% of the funding in the Ten–Year Capital Plan will be allocated to this bridge.
  • Maintenance on the Sakonnet bridge will include:
    • Installation of a weather station to help the RITBA make weather related decisions
    • Concrete repairs
    • Inspections
    • Drain work, detention and catch basin maintenance

The RI 138 Connector

  • RITBA’s R.I. 138 connector maintenance responsibilities include:
    • 15 lane miles of roadway and related small bridges from Rt. 1A in North Kingston to the Newport Pell Bridge
    • The roadway drainage system
    • A pump station
    • Landscaping
    • Guardrail and fencing
    • Signage
    • 3% of the budget will be allocated to various maintenance projects for this road system.

RITBA Facilities

  • 4% of the budget will be to maintain the various RITBA facilities
  • The building facilities and associated grounds maintained by the RITBA include the following:
    • Jamestown administration building
    • Jamestown maintenance building
    • Newport Pell toll plaza and toll booth access tunnel
    • Jamestown pump station and storage building
    • Bristol Mt. Hope House (maintenance facility)

The Ten–Year Plan is updated on a regular basis as part of RITBA’s ongoing asset management program.

Eric Offenberg, P.E., LEED AP
Director of Engineering, RITBA