The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced that it will open the next major segment of the Iway to traffic on Thursday, June 18, 2009. The change will take place during the overnight hours on Wednesday, June 17 and be in place for the Thursday morning commute. All motorists driving on I-195 West will be impacted by this change and should plan extra time as drivers become used to the new traffic pattern. All schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change.
Just as is the case today, motorists on I-195 West who want to access I-95 South will need to use the left lanes while motorists seeking to access I-95 North will need to use the right lanes. The main difference is that the split will now occur immediately after Exit 3 (Gano Street) and the Washington Bridge. Motorists should move into the correct lanes before they pass over the Washington Bridge.
Traffic on the left headed to I-95 South will pass over the new Providence River Bridge and use the new highway which connects to I-95 just prior to Exit 18 (Thurbers Avenue). Traffic on the right will continue to use old I-195 until RIDOT opens the final major highway segment (I-195 West to I-95 North) in late 2009.
“The opening of this new highway segment is another important milestone in the Iway project,” Governor Donald L. Carcieri said. “Improving the state’s infrastructure is a top priority of my Administration. These major improvements, from the Iway and Route 403 to the Intermodal project and the planned runway expansion at T.F. State Airport Green, greatly improve the flow of people and business, and are key building blocks to a strong economy for Rhode Island.”
The opening of the westbound lanes of the new I-195 must be phased in, and as such, RIDOT expects congestion will be created by the new traffic pattern. This congestion will likely persist until the next major improvement, I-195 West to I-95 North, is opened later this year. Fixed and electronic signage will be installed beginning at the Massachusetts state line. Motorists should not stop or back up on the highway if they find themselves in the wrong lane for their destination, but continue on and take the next exit to seek an alternate route.
“We ask for motorists to be patient as we move through this transition period and to plan ahead and heed all signage regarding their destination,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. “Slowing and changing lanes right at the split can lead to crashes which will create additional congestion.”
The opening of the new highway segment will result in other changes, including access from the East Side of Providence and to the R.I. Hospital area. Some of these changes will be permanent and others will be alleviated in the future by additional ramps RIDOT plans to open.
Later in the summer, motorists on I-195 West will be able to access the hospitals campus via a ramp directly from the Iway to Eddy Street. Until that opens, motorists will be directed to use Exit 18 (Thurbers Avenue) and use Allens Avenue to Public Street to Eddy Street.
“RIDOT will install several signs to direct people to the hospitals complex,” Lewis said. “However with all these changes motorists should allow extra time to get to their appointments. The Department has coordinated all changes with public safety officials to ensure emergency responders have no delay in reaching the hospitals.”
Other changes for those driving on I-195 West, from east to west, include:
1. Exit 3 (Gano Street) 2. On-ramp from Gano Street to I-195 West 3. Exit 2 (South Main Street) 4. On-ramp from Wickenden Street to I-195 West 5. On-ramp from Dorrance Street to I-195 West 6. I-95 Exit 19 (Eddy Street) from I-195 West
1. Right-hand exit remains as-is 2. Access only to old I-195 and I-95 North 3. Access only from old-195 (right lanes) 4. Access only to old I-195 and I-95 North 5. Access only to old I-195 and I-95 North 6. Not possible; use Exit 18 instead to Thurbers Avenue and follow detour
Due to the volume of traffic on I-195 West at the new split, RIDOT encourages motorists in East Providence to use the Taunton Avenue on-ramp for I-95 North only, since that ramp is so close to the new split it may be difficult to move over in heavy traffic. If motorists leaving East Providence wish to access I-95 South, getting on the highway at the Pawtucket Avenue on-ramp affords them more time to move to the left lanes.
Motorists leaving Providence who use the Dorrance Street on-ramp to old I-195 have two options to access I-95 South. They can use Memorial Boulevard to the highway interchange next to Providence Place Mall. Additionally, they can also follow Eddy Street south to Allens Avenue and turn right onto Blackstone Street to access a temporary on-ramp to I-95 South. Both options are available for those leaving the East Side who used either the Gano Street or Wickenden Street on-ramps. Detouring traffic will result in more traffic in the Davol Square area.
“The Department expects increased congestion on city streets, particularly in the afternoon,” Lewis said. “Streets that normally may not carry much traffic today will likely be busier once this change is made. Again, allow extra time for your commute.”
If motorists find themselves on the Iway to I-95 South and their intended direction was I-95 North, they can use Exit 18 (Thurbers Avenue) to reverse direction. At the end of the ramp, turn left, pass underneath the highway overpass, and take an immediate left onto the ramp to I-95 North. Conversely, if motorists find themselves on old I-195 West to I-95 North and their intended direction was I-95 South, they can use Exit 22B to Route 10 South, which leads to I-95 at Exit 16, which has ramps to both I-95 North and South. Both of these “if you missed it” detours are only about two miles long.
The new ramp opening is the third in a series of four major highway segments being opened as part of the $610 million Iway project. RIDOT opened the first segment, I-95 North to I-195 East, on November 4, 2007. The next segment, I-95 South to I-195 East, opened on December 6, 2008. RIDOT expects all highway traffic to be using the Iway by the end of 2009. Additional on- and off-ramps are scheduled to open in 2010. RIDOT expects demolition of old I-195 to begin in 2010 with the project wrapping up in 2012.
Detailed information, including maps, are available 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. Information is also available by signing up for one of RIDOT’s social networking websites, either Facebook, Blogger, MySpace or Twitter. The latter of these features real-time updates on highway incidents from RIDOT’s Transportation Management Center. Additionally, motorists can contact RIDOT’s Customer Service Department at 401-222-2450 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362 x4007