May 30, 2024

Reed, Whitehouse, Amo, McKee Highlight $27 Million in Federal Funding for Major Updates to the Mount Hope Bridge

Bristol, RI – From the base of the Mount Hope Bridge, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) alongside Congressman Gabe Amo (D-RI) and Governor Dan McKee today highlighted $27 million in federal funding heading to Rhode Island to support much-needed improvements to the historic span connecting Bristol and Portsmouth.

The funding includes $17 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) grant, which Whitehouse helped create as a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  Reed and Whitehouse also secured a $10 million earmark to support the installation of a dehumidification system on the steel wires, cables, and anchors of the Mount Hope Bridge.  These improvements are expected to help extend the life of the bridge by 50 to 75 years. 

“Our bridges are lifelines that connect communities and we’ve got to keep them in good working order.  Age, deterioration from the elements, and every day wear and tear can take a real toll on our bridges.  This is a smart investment in keeping this 95-year old bridge in good working order, ensuring its safety and soundness for future generations, and putting people to work in good-paying jobs in the construction trades,” said Senator Reed.  “I was pleased to work with Senator Whitehouse to earmark federal funds and help secure PROTECT grant funds for this project.  Long before the westbound Washington Bridge went offline, Senator Whitehouse has been out in front on the need to invest in our bridges and do preventative maintenance, particularly on the Mount Hope Bridge.  This federal funding will help harden our bridge infrastructure and make the Mount Hope Bridge more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

“Today marks a milestone in the history of the picturesque Mount Hope Bridge as we celebrate federal funding that will help protect the integrity of the bridge’s cables from rising temperatures, moisture, and humidity caused by climate change.  I’ve advocated extensively for this Mount Hope Bridge funding to prevent another massive disruption for Rhode Islanders, which would be triggered by further deterioration of the cables.  Senator Reed has been an excellent partner on the Appropriations Committee as we have worked to prepare Rhode Island’s critical infrastructure for climate change and take preventive steps to keep the Mount Hope Bridge online,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This investment follows the $82.5 million grant we secured to extend the life of the Pell Bridge, which was awarded from the INFRA Program I helped create.”

Due to the age of the bridge and corrosion from the elements, the 700-ton cables that support the majority of Mount Hope Bridge’s weight have been weakened by cumulative corrosion and moisture.

“Rhode Islanders deserve the best roads, rail and bridges in the world so that they can go to work, see family and get where they need to go,” said Congressman Seth Magaziner. “I’m pleased that federal funding will flow to the Mount Hope Bridge, which is used by tens of thousands of people each and every day, to keep communities connected and lift the economy.”

“I applaud the $27 million in federal funding that will go toward upgrading the Mount Hope Bridge,” said Congressman Gabe Amo. “Thanks to the fierce advocacy of Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse — in concert with our state and local partners — today’s announcement extends the life of an iconic symbol of Rhode Island while strengthening the connections that bind our East Bay and Aquidneck Island communities together. Going forward, we must continue to build on this achievement for our state as we further our efforts to harden critical infrastructure against the effects of the climate crisis.”

Investing these federal funds in repairs to the historic suspension bridge and the protective dehumidification system will make the Mount Hope Bridge safer and could save taxpayers tenfold by preventing costlier damage in the future.

“Investing in the Mount Hope Bridge supports the safety of the millions of commuters and cars who use it every year, and helps keep Rhode Island running,” said Governor Dan McKee.  “These much-needed improvements will create good-paying jobs, extend the bridge’s life, and will reinforce the structure’s integrity against climate change.  On behalf of Rhode Island, I’m grateful to the tireless efforts of our congressional delegation, as well as our private partners, to secure this vital federal funding.”

Built in 1929, the Mount Hope Bridge — which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is one of only three connections from the mainland to Aquidneck Island, and the sole connection from the East Bay.  The two-lane suspension bridge serves as a critical freight corridor connecting coastal Rhode Island to southeastern Massachusetts, Boston, and points north and west in the nation’s highway system.  The Mount Hope Bridge carries an estimated seven million motorists per year, according to the RI Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA), a quasi-state agency responsible for the operation and maintenance of Rhode Island’s four major bridges.

“We are so grateful to Senator Reed and Senator Whitehouse for their relentless advocacy and support of Rhode Island’s bridges,” said Lori Caron Silveira, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.  “Maintaining these bridges is critical for the communities that rely on them, and we appreciate that Senator Reed and Senator Whitehouse understand the unique needs of our infrastructure.”  

In 2021, RITBA issued a report on bridge inspections between 1960 and 2000 showing that 744 wires on the bridge had broken out of 2,450.  While most of those were repaired over the years, the report highlighted that the entire bridge could be compromised if the cables were allowed to deteriorate without fixes.  The $27 million in federal funding will help keep the bridge cables in a state of good repair and significantly improve the resilience of this key connection.  RITBA officials have previously estimated that replacing the cables would cost over $500 million.

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering real benefits to Rhode Island,” said Donato A. Bianco, Jr., Vice President and New England Regional Manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “Through our Congressional Delegation’s tireless efforts and advocacy for our State, Senators Reed and Whitehouse along with Congressman Magaziner and Amo have once again delivered for Rhode Island, ensuring that these federal funds will repair critical infrastructure, address the effects of climate change, and create local, family-supporting union jobs.  Repairing, rebuilding and maintaining our state’s infrastructure is a necessity to ensure connectivity between our communities and economic viability.”

“The men and women of the Rhode Island Building Trades are working everyday rebuilding our State because of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Michael F. Sabitoni, General Secretary-Treasurer, LIUNA and President of the RI Building & Construction Trades Council. “These additional federal investments, with the help of our Congressional Delegation, will continue predictable employment opportunities for the hard-working and skilled members of the union trades, building the infrastructure our economy relies upon.”

“Being awarded four PROTECT grants totaling more than $17M to fund improvements to the Mt. Hope Bridge is a significant accomplishment for Rhode Island,” said Tom Giordano, Executive Director of the Partnership for Rhode Island.  “This is a clear example of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors come together to form a partnership focused on making Rhode Island a better place to live, work, and learn.  I am incredibly thankful to Senator Jack Reed and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for their continued leadership and investments. This great success for Rhode Island would not have been possible without their support.”

RITBA conducted cable air flow testing earlier this year as part of the Mount Hope Dehumidification Project, which is one element of a multi-year project to upgrade the bridge.  The cable dehumidification technology that RITBA is using has been successfully employed on other major bridges in the U.S., including the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the South Tenth Street Bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921