State treasurer promotes road funding plan

Atlantic Avenue in Westerly was covered in sand after Hurricane Sandy.

It already was a low-lying road that had a tendency to flood every time during a heavy rainstorm.

The town wants to spend money to fix it.

Canal Street, at the other end of town, is still recovering from the 2010 flooding.

Town officials went ahead and put out a bond to repair the road. But if a revolving fund for road repairs were in place, the town would have saved money.

"This concept would have saved us probably a half a million dollars. We could put that back into other projects. We could get other roads repaved and like any other town, there's never enough to do that on an annual basis," said Steven Hartford, Westerly town manager.

On Monday, Hartford showed general treasurer Gina Raimondo some of the work going on in Westerly.

Raimondo is the architect of a plan aimed at helping Rhode Island cities and towns borrow money for road and bridge projects at a low interest rate.

The Canal Street project cost almost $4 million and required creative financing even for a town like Westerly with good credit. However, it would have been much easier to pay for through the revolving fund.

"If this revolving fund were in place they could have gone to one place, nice and easy access, the Capital, at a discounted rate and repaved the road," Raimondo said.

The proposed fund still needs legislative approval.