The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced today that it has started construction of three steel arches for the first element of the new Pawtucket River Bridge. The arches are one of the most decorative elements of the new span.
Using prefabricated sections of steel, RIDOT will assemble these arches quickly. In approximately two week's time, the steel will completely span the Seekonk River. All schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change.
"While much work remains before we can open this part of the bridge to traffic, the assembly of the steel arches is a significant and very visible milestone as we make progress in replacing this bridge," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said.
The steel arches will support a new bridge that runs parallel to the two spans that carry traffic over the river on I-95 North and South. RIDOT expects to shift I-95 North traffic on the new bridge this winter, which will eliminate the need for northbound truck detours. The Pawtucket River Bridge has carried an 18-ton weight limit since 2008; requiring trucks to use I-295, Route 146 or local city streets as a detour.
The next phase of the $81 million project will involve demolishing the existing I-95 North bridge and building a new structure in 2012. RIDOT will then shift I-95 South traffic to that new span, a step that will completely eliminate the 18-ton weight limit on the Interstate. Construction will continue with the demolition and reconstruction of the third major span, after which RIDOT will remove all traffic shifts on the highway. The bridge being built this fall will remain in service and be used for traffic entering and exiting the highway from George Street and School Street.
Numerous road and exit closures near the Pawtucket River Bridge remain in place, including the School Street off-ramp (Exit 28) closure on I-95 North. Visit RIDOT's webpage at www.dot.ri.gov for more information and links to detour maps and turn-by-turn directions.
Motorists with questions can contact RIDOT's Customer Service office at 401-222-2450 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional information may be available on RIDOT's social media sites on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Blogger.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362 x4007