The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced today that it will continue overnight demolition of the old I-195 bridge over Wickenden Street in Providence. RIDOT originally expected to conclude overnight demolition last night, however, numerous factors have resulted in slower than expected progress and a need to extend the demolition schedule into the next two weeks.
Motorists and residents can expect lane closures on Wickenden Street from 6:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights next week (including Martin Luther King Jr. Day). At least one lane will be open in each direction. It is possible an additional week of closures beyond next week will be needed. RIDOT will provide an update next week on the progress and whether additional nights are needed to complete the work.
All schedules are weather dependent and subject to change. Snow or extreme cold could cause further delays in the schedule.
A chief contributing factor to the slower pace of demolition is the construction of the bridge and steel and wooden shoring installed over the years to maintain the bridge until traffic could be switched onto the Iway. As workers remove sections of the deck, materials in four categories – steel, wood, concrete and asphalt – must be sorted for reuse, recycle or disposal.
“Pulling the bridge apart in this fashion is the most cost effective way of doing it with the least impact to the community,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. “We apologize for any inconvenience to residents or motorists.”
Cold temperatures in the teens during evening hours this week have also affected the pace of demolition. Removal of the asphalt driving surface is proving to be especially challenging. Normally this material can be removed in large sections, much like peeling the skin off an orange. With these cold temperatures, the asphalt is very brittle and can only be removed in small pieces.
Additionally, Testa Corporation, the demolition subcontractor for general contractor Cardi Corporation, has taken numerous steps to reduce noise impacts to the surrounding residential area. In doing so, it has avoided the use of a large hammer, and instead favored use of a large claw-like device called a shear. Also, Testa has committed to ceasing the noisiest aspects of the demolition at midnight.
The demolition is taking place as part of the Iway project in advance of future improvements along Wickenden Street. The bridge and a portion of the former highway to the south of the bridge must be removed in order for construction of a new exit Exit 2 from I-195 West later this year. The existing ramp to South Main Street will be closed and the new ramp will bring motorists to the corner of Wickenden Street and Benefit Street.
This demolition work is not part of the more extensive demolition contract that RIDOT will advertise and award this spring that will raze the majority of the old I-195 highway. RIDOT also will make further improvements to the intersections of Wickenden Street and Benefit Street and Wickenden Street and South Main Street under a separate contract.
Motorists who have questions about this project are urged to contact RIDOT’s Customer Service office weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 222-2450. Information, including photos of the demolition, will be posted on RIDOT’s social networking sites on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Blogger. These sites can be accessed from RIDOT’s home page at www.dot.ri.gov.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362 x4007