Officials budget $1 million for repaving roads

Officials budget $1 million for repaving roads

None of the money secured; bad road list would go in order

NORTH PROVIDENCE - The 2013-2014 capital improvement budget approved by town officials this month sets aside $1 million for the repaving of local roadways - but none of the money budgeted is in the hopper yet.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said that he plans to be aggressive in seeking funding to repave a "wish list" of roads during the year starting July 1, even though there is no money in the town's general fund to get started.

"It's just a matter of how we're going to fund it," he said. "As we start getting some funding, we plan on addressing roads."

Lombardi's administration hopes to apply for $100,000 of the money for the state's potential new Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving Fund, a fund spearheaded by Gen. Treasurer Gina Raimondo and approved for $10 million in start-up money by the Rhode Island House Finance Committee last week.

Due to a disappointing last few months of Fiscal Year 2013, Lombardi was unable to put money from the town's general fund toward road repairs as he'd wanted to do.

The town's consultant, Rosewood Consulting Company, will be actively "chasing money" during the 2013-2014 year, said Lombardi. The mayor said he is optimistic about obtaining at least a portion of the $1 million that officials desire, especially now that state leaders look like they'll approve a funding mechanism that would allow the town to borrow money at a very low interest rate.

The town could have the advantage in obtaining grant funding due to the extremely poor condition of some of its roads, said Lombardi, especially those near some local schools. For some roads, he said, getting them repaved could be "a matter of public safety."

A planned repaving program could get a big boost if members of his administration end up deciding that privatizing the town's Department of Public Works is in taxpayers' best interest, said Lombardi. That decision should come within the next week or two, he noted.

The priority list of roads in the worst shape will remain unchanged from early spring, when some members of the Town Council suggested that the town hire an outside consultant to rate the condition of all North Providence roads.

A follow-up review by Public Works Director Glenn Corrente this spring has shown that the list of 21 roads developed by public works employees two years ago remains unchanged after a tough winter, stated Lombardi, though he said the condition of some roads did worsen in the past few months.

The mayor said he doesn't plan to "jump around" the list of 21 roads when the money does start coming in, but instead will instruct workers to take the roads listed "top to bottom." The alphabetical list puts Alexander Street, Angell Avenue, Bourne Avenue, Brown Avenue and Colonial Drive as its first five roads.

See the full list of roads at the end of this story.

In March, Council President Kristen Catanzaro asked for a town-wide plan for repaving, saying she wanted to take any perception of "politics" out of the repaving process. According to Catanzaro, she has a list of 13 streets in dire need of repaving just in Council District 3, but only three of those roads are on Lombardi's list.

But Lombardi rejected the notion, hinting that Catanzaro is playing politics herself with the issue of roads.

The town will soon go out to bid on a new three-year contract for road repaving, said Lombardi, as the old contract is now expired.

Because many of the town's intersections are in worse shape than the rest of their roadways, said the mayor, he hopes in some cases to "get away with" just paving intersections and the first few feet branching out in each direction. Employing such a repaving strategy could extend the life of some roads for less money and allow funds to be spread over more roads.