During a ceremony this morning on the west side of the new Providence River Bridge in Providence, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and Governor Donald L. Carcieri highlighted the changes coming to the Iway by previewing the opening of the next major segment of the Interstate: I-195 West to I-95 South. This segment is scheduled to open during the overnight hours of Wednesday, June 17, 2009, just in time for the Thursday morning commute on June 18. All work is weather permitting.
“Today marks another milestone with the completion of Phase Three of the Iway,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. “We have already seen dramatic improvement in traffic flow with the opening of the other segments, and when completed, the Iway will transform how we move people and commerce, and will open up downtown Providence, making way for the development of 19 acres.”
This opening will mark 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. I-195 West to I-95 North is scheduled to open later this year, while all highway traffic should be using the Iway by the end of 2009. Additional on- and off-ramps are scheduled to open this year and next. RIDOT expects demolition of old I-195 to begin in 2010 with the project wrapping up in 2012.
“With next week’s opening, we ask for the patience of the motoring public as they become accustomed to the new traffic patterns,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “We ask that all motorists pay close attention to the new signs and routes and allow extra time to get to their destination.”
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 well before they pass over the Washington Bridge.
Traffic on the left (headed to I-95 South) will use the new highway, pass over the new Providence River Bridge, and connect 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 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.
Detailed information, including maps, are available on RIDOT’s website, www.dot.ri.gov, by calling 511 or listening to the Highway Advisory Radio system on 1630 AM. Updates will also be available by signing up for one or more of RIDOT’s social networking websites, including Facebook, Blogger, MySpace or Twitter. The latter of these features real-time information 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.