April 26, 2023

Reed, Whitehouse & Cicilline Announce $750,000 to Upgrade Bristol’s “Revolutionary Heritage Byway”

New federal funding will make needed street infrastructure upgrades along section of Hope Street that has been designated a National Scenic Byway

BRISTOL, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01) announced that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is awarding $750,000 in federal funding to make street upgrades along Bristol’s Revolutionary Heritage Byway (Route 114).  The federal funds will help protect and preserve coastal features along the byway while also improving safety features and drainage to better serve pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.

The Revolutionary Heritage Byway is a six mile stretch of road centered around the Town of Bristol, along State Route 114 and High Street, mostly running parallel to Bristol Harbor.  The scenic corridor winds through Bristol’s historic downtown, waterfront parks, and includes spectacular views of the harbor.  In addition to shops and restaurants housed in historic 19th-century structures, stops along the route include the Coggeshall Farm Museum, the state’s largest wildlife refuge at the Audubon Society Nature Center and Aquarium, and historic Linden Place, dating back to 1810.  Bristol is also the host of the nation’s oldest continuing Fourth of July parade – since 1785.  And a patriotic red, white, and blue center line is painted along Hope Street.  While on the Byway, travelers are taken past historic homes, waterfront sites, and can view Colt State Park, Blithewold Mansion Museum, and Mount Hope Farm.

Administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, the National Scenic Byway funding is awarded to states to help protect and promote some of America’s most iconic roads that are scenic, historic, cultural, recreational, and help tell uniquely American stories.

Becoming a National Scenic Byway is a long, winding process for any corridor.

The National Scenic Byways program was established by Congress in 1991 to recognize these special roads.  But it was halted in 2012.  In 2019, Congressman Cicilline authored a law to reopen the nomination and designation process for the program, while Senator Reed used his seniority on the Appropriations Committee to revive a $16 million stream of competitive grant funding for the program.

The Revolutionary Heritage Byway route officially became a state byway in 2000 and, following the extensive development of a management plan, was selected by FHWA for federal National Scenic Byway designation in 2021.

Last year, Reed, Whitehouse, and Cicilline worked to make $20 million available for the National Scenic Byway Program Support program in the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

“Bristol is a distinctive destination known for its beauty, history, patriotism, and small town charm.  The Town has fostered a strong preservation ethic and this new federal funding will help Bristol make needed repairs while retaining local character, preserving history, and enhancing this storied, scenic roadway,” said Senator Reed.

“This federal funding will make necessary infrastructure improvements to the Revolutionary Heritage Byway, making Bristol more resilient to climate change and improving safety and accessibility in town,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “I am pleased to help secure investments in Bristol’s infrastructure so Rhode Islanders can continue to enjoy the town’s history and charm for years to come.”

“Rhode Island’s scenic byways are some of the most beautiful in the country, and I’m thrilled that Bristol’s Revolutionary Heritage Byway was designated as Rhode Island’s first National Scenic Byway in 2021,” said Congressman Cicilline, who authored the Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act (H.R. 831), which was signed into law in 2019. “I fought to revive the National Scenic Byways Program so that areas like Bristol could benefit from this designation and the economic benefits that accompany it – including the jobs that this project will create and the increase in tourism that this designation will drive. This funding will help us make the necessary repairs and updates so that this Rhode Island treasure is available and accessible for generations to come.”

“We are very appreciative of the delegation’s efforts to direct federal funds to repair and improve the well-known seawall and sidewalk on Hope Street along Bristol harbor. The area greets visitors to Rhode Island and is a place for everyone to enjoy time at Bristol Harbor,” said Town Administrator Steven Contente.

Specifically, the $750,000 in National Scenic Byway Program Support funding will be used by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) in coordination with the Town of Bristol to bring sections of Hope Street to a state of good repair with an improved design.  The project will include:

  • Restoration of the seawall between Burnside Street and Summer Street, including the construction of a new scenic overlook of Bristol Harbor;
  • New pavement surface;
  • New sidewalks and ADA accessibility improvements along both shoulders between Walley Street and Summer Street, including the extension of sidewalk in front of Walley Park;
  • Variable shoulder width adjustments to improve bicycle access;
  • Repair or replacement of drainage systems and basins; and
  • Soil restoration and greenery improvements.

Today, there are 184 routes nationwide designated as America’s Byways.

Chip Unruh (Reed), (202) 224-4642

Meaghan McCabe (Whitehouse), (401) 453-5294

Jennifer Bell (Cicilline), (202) 365-0827

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921