HOPKINTON – The R.I. Department of Transportation has abandoned pursuit of a $12 million project to create a new travel plaza and welcome center at Exit 1 on Interstate 95.
Site problems, including the presence of wetlands and three Narragansett Indian cemeteries, as well as community opposition in Hopkinton were cited by RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. on Monday.
In a release, he announced that RIDOT has asked the Federal Highway Administration, via a letter, to rescind its application for a $9 million federal grant that would have covered three-quarters of the project cost.
“This was the right decision to make for several reasons,” Alviti said.
The state wanted to do what “was best” for Hopkinton, he said. Its residents treasure the rural nature of their town and wanted to keep it that way, he noted.
Second, environmental site assessments and an archaeological review detected other concerns. Finally, in its meeting with federal officials, the state found that the “environmental and social challenges of this project would make it difficult to go through the environmental assessment process in a timely manner.”
In the site analysis, wetlands were delineated along several areas within the designated building parcel. And the property is within a groundwater reservoir district.
“All of this gave us pause,” Alviti said. “But most importantly our archaeological surveys showed that there were historical artifacts of great significance to the Narragansett Indians, including three cemeteries.”
RIDOT has already budgeted $3 million for the project. A portion of those funds…
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