The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced that it will open the next major segment of the Iway to traffic on Saturday, December 6, 2008. The new Exit 20 from I-95 South to I-195 East will now be located on the right-hand side of the highway, as is customary for most highway ramps and interchanges. The current left-hand exit for old I-195 East will close at the same time, as will access to old I-195 Exits 1 (Downtown) and 2 (Wickenden Street).
Also next week, RIDOT anticipates opening a new on-ramp from Plain Street, near R.I. Hospital, to I-195 East. This ramp is scheduled to open on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 and will replace the Friendship Street on-ramp to old I-195 East, which RIDOT closed in May. Additionally, the fifth lane of the Washington Bridge eastbound is scheduled to open on December 5. All schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change.
RIDOT expects that these changes, particularly the opening of new Exit 20, will result in traffic congestion on I-95 South during the first few days of this new traffic pattern. Additional congestion is possible on certain city streets as well. Motorists are advised to familiarize themselves with the location of the new exit and suggested detours for inbound and outbound traffic in light of the permanent closure of old I-195 East and its Exits 1 and 2.
“Changes of this magnitude can lead to confusion and therefore congestion as people become accustomed to new ways of getting through and into and out of Providence,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. “We encourage motorists to ‘Take the RIGHT way to the Iway’ for I-195 East and keep left for I-95 South. This is the most basic change with this new exit opening – the shifting of the exit from the left side of the highway to the right.”
As new traffic patterns become established, RIDOT expects motorists will experience an improved commute on I-95 and I-195. The goals of the Iway are to improve highway capacity, increase safety and reduce highway congestion in Rhode Island’s capital city.
These changes come a few weeks after the closure of the Broad Street on-ramp to I-95 South as well as the opening of a temporary on-ramp from Blackstone Street to I-95 South. With all these changes, RIDOT has developed a series of maps with suggested detours for those entering or leaving Providence depending on their point of origin (please see list of suggested detours below).
RIDOT is urging motorists to plan ahead and allow extra time, especially during the evening commute when the I-95 South to I-195 East movement is busiest. Those driving through or around the Providence area may wish to take I-295, Route 146 or Route 10.
These changes are part of the ongoing $610 million Iway project. RIDOT expects to open the remaining Iway segments, including I-195 West to I-95 North and South, in 2009. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2012, when all segments of old I-195 are demolished and local streets are restored.
RIDOT will be placing numerous signs along I-95 South and on city streets regarding these changes and suggested detours. Numerous maps of these changes are on RIDOT’s website, www.dot.ri.gov. Additional information is available by calling 511 or listening to the Highway Advisory Radio system on 1630 AM. Motorists also can contact RIDOT’s Customer Service department weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Suggested Detour Routes – Iway Ramp Opening – Fall 2008
• I-95 South to I-195 East: Use new Exit 20 on the right-hand side of the highway. After merging with traffic from the new Plain Street ramp, motorists will merge with traffic on the Iway from I-95 North just prior to the new Providence River Bridge. I-95 South through traffic should keep left. • I-95 South to Downtown/Downcity/Courthouse District/Financial District: Take Exit 22A (Downtown) to the intersection with Francis Street. Turn right on Francis Street or proceed straight on Memorial Boulevard. Alternately, take Exit 21 (Atwells Avenue), turn left at light and proceed straight toward Downtown/Downcity. • I-95 South to Jewelry District: Take Exit 21 (Atwells Avenue) and go straight through light onto southbound service road. Follow past the closed Broad Street on-ramp to Point Street. Turn left, travel over the Point Street overpass and arrive in the Jewelry District near the Coro Building. Alternately, take Exit 19 (Eddy Street). At the end of the ramp, turn right onto Eddy Street and follow it under the highway overpass, through the intersection with Allens Avenue and straight toward Davol Square and the Jewelry District. • I-95 South to Wickenden Street/Fox Point/College Hill: Use new Exit 20 on the right-hand side of the highway and take Iway Exit 2 (Gano Street/India Street). At the end of the ramp, turn left toward Gano Street for College Hill, Hope Street and Fox Point. Turn right at the end of the ramp and follow India Street to South Water Street. Turn right onto Point Street to reach Wickenden Street, Benefit Street and South Main Street.
• Downtown to I-95 North or South: Use Memorial Boulevard to reach I-95 or the Route 6/10 Connector near Providence Place mall. • Downcity to I-195 West, I-95 North or South: Use the existing on-ramp to I-195 West from Dorrance Street. • Downcity to I-195 East: Use the Delta Street bridge over Providence River from Memorial Boulevard to reach South Water Street. Follow signs on Wickenden Street. At the light, proceed straight onto South Main Street and use the on-ramp to I-195 East. Alternately, follow Eddy Street south, turn left on Point Street and turn right onto South Main Street and use the on-ramp to I-195 East. • Courthouse/Financial District to I-195 West, I-95 North or South: Use the existing on-ramp to I-195 West from Dorrance Street. Alternately, use Memorial Boulevard to reach I-95 or the Route 6/10 Connector near Providence Place mall. • West of the I-95 corridor to I-95 South: Drive west on Broadway or Westminster Street to reach Tobey Street and the Route 6/10 Connector. The ramp provides access to Route 6 West and Route 10 South only. Route 10 rejoins I-95 in Cranston. • Rhode Island Hospital area to I-195 East: Use the new Plain Street on-ramp for I-195 East (located just south of intersection of Point Street and soutbound service road). • In place of Broad Street on-ramp to I-95 South: Follow past the closed exit and turn left onto Point Street. After traveling over the Point Street overpass, turn right onto Richmond Street. Follow onto Eddy Street and bear left at the light for Allens Avenue. Turn right onto Blackstone Street, pass under the highway overpass and turn left onto the temporary ramp to I-95 South. • Jewelry District to I-195 West, I-95 North or South: Use Richmond Street to Clifford Street for the ramp to I-195 West. Alternately, use Richmond Street, Eddy Street and Allens Avenue to reach the Blackstone Street on-ramp to I-95 South. • Jewelry District to I-195 East: Use Point Street to South Main Street ramp to I-195 East.