August 12, 2022

RI Delegation Announces $7.8 Million for Accessibility and Resiliency Upgrades to Providence Riverwalk and Waterplace Park

RAISE grant will support revitalization of downtown Providence’s main pedestrian thoroughfare

Providence, RI – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced that the City of Providence has been awarded $7.8 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program to support accessibility and design improvements and resiliency upgrades to the Providence Riverwalk and Waterplace Park.

“We can’t ignore sea level rise and must factor it in to responsible city planning.  As the City thinks about ways to upgrade the area around the river, this federal funding will ensure those plans include ways to make Providence safer, more accessible, and resilient.  It will fund environmental assessments, economic development analysis, and community engagement with the goal of making Providence more flood resistant and building a more sustainable future,” said Senator Reed.

“After decades of wear and tear and increasingly frequent flooding, the Providence Riverwalk and Waterplace Park are gems in need of a little polishing,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “This grant will allow the City to advance the riverfront’s next phase so that it can be enjoyed by more Rhode Islanders and will continue to provide a fittingly vibrant venue for WaterFire.”

“As rising sea levels and subsequent flooding threatens the Providence Riverwalk and Waterplace Park, now is the time to invest in structural upgrades and resiliency to ensure that these Rhode Island staples can be enjoyed for generations to come,” said Congressman Langevin. “I’m particularly pleased that these federal dollars will be used to make the Riverwalk more accessible for people with disabilities, so that all Rhode Islanders can experience everything that the Riverwalk has to offer.”

“The City of Providence is home to many public spaces and great parks that are important gathering places for the community,” said Congressman Cicilline.  “I was proud to support this federal funding, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will enable the City to undertake key priorities to address resiliency issues, improve safety, and enhance accessibility in two heavily visited downtown spaces, the Riverwalk and Waterplace Park.  This is a great example of how vital federal funding can help preserve and improve these public spaces for generations to come.”

The City plans to build a new ADA-accessible shared use path between Francis and Steeple Streets that will be safe for people of all ages and abilities, and create seven new ADA access points to the Riverwalk.  The project will also address public safety concerns and improve pedestrian and bicycle accessibility. 

Finished in 1994, the Riverwalk has contended with more frequent flooding in recent years.  Planned upgrades for the area will address future sea level rise by raising the Riverwalk, improving stormwater runoff systems, and fixing structural deficiencies in sections of the Riverwalk’s walls.

“This generous grant is a game-changer for the City and will allow us to execute on our collective vision for reclaiming the waterfront for our community members,” said Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza.  “New improvements made possible by this funding will greatly increase connectivity to our Urban Trail Network and dramatically enhance ADA accessibility in our Downtown neighborhood.”

The federal grant will fund engineering and permitting, a community engagement process, and an economic development analysis for the planned improvements.

Chip Unruh, (202) 224-4642

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

Matt Fidel (Langevin), (202) 631-1010

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

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921