The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Governor Donald L. Carcieri to dedicate the newest Iway ramp, which is scheduled to open to traffic tomorrow, Saturday, December 6. The ramp at Exit 20, which will carry traffic 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).
“This investment in our state’s infrastructure is an essential element of making Rhode Island an efficient and safe place to live and do business,” Governor Donald L. Carcieri said. “The entire project is a significant improvement in a major highway interchange and it brings our transportation system into the 21st century. Drivers will see the benefits as they become accustomed to the change.”
RIDOT expects that these changes 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.
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. With the forecast of inclement weather in the coming week, it is vitally important for motorists to drive carefully with reduced speeds.
“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.
“Today’s dedication of the newest Iway ramp is an important milestone in efforts to improve traffic flow in and out of Providence,” said Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline. “It also brings us one step closer to freeing up nearly 20-acres of waterfront property as we work to create jobs and grow our tax base.”
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 – with suggested detours for those entering or leaving Providence depending on their point of origin – are on RIDOT’s website, www.dot.ri.gov. A list of suggested detours is attached to this press release.
The event today also served to highlight the work RIDOT has done to bring the $42 million Washington Bridge project to fruition. Today RIDOT is opening the fifth lane on the eastbound span of the bridge. This will provide increased highway capacity for all I-195 East traffic coming from the Iway. The fifth lane also allows room for traffic entering and exiting the highway while maintaining four lanes dedicated for highway through traffic.
“While close to the Iway, the Washington Bridge Replacement Project has always been a separate effort,” Lewis said. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the men and women who worked on the Washington Bridge project to bring it to a successful conclusion.”
Also scheduled for this week, RIDOT will be opening a new ramp from Plain Street to I-195 East. This ramp will replace the former Friendship Street on-ramp which RIDOT closed in May. Motorists can find this new ramp north of the R.I. Hospital area, just south of the intersection with Point Street and the Service Road No. 7. 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.
These changes are all 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.
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 at 222-2450 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362 x4007
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.