The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced that in one week it is expected to begin the final operation needed to open first span of the new Pawtucket River Bridge to traffic on I-95 North. RIDOT will then be able to lift the 18-ton weight limit that has required trucks and other large vehicles on I-95 North to use local detours or longer highway detours.
Before this can occur, RIDOT must close I-95 North Exit 28 (School Street) for approximately two weeks, beginning on Monday, April 9, 2012. The closure is necessary to allow the Department to complete construction in the area of the existing School Street off-ramp that cannot be done while it is open to traffic.
"We apologize for any disruption the exit closure may cause, but it is a necessary step in achieving the major goal of opening the first span of the new Pawtucket River Bridge," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said.
During the exit closure, motorists should use Exit 27 (Downtown) or Exit 29 (Broadway) to reach their destinations. Those traveling to Memorial Hospital should use Exit 27. Those driving to McCoy Stadium for a Pawtucket Red Sox game can use either Exit 27 or Exit 29. RIDOT is coordinating with both organizations to ensure adequate signage and traffic control measures are in place to help people navigate the detour routes with minimal delay.
Once I-95 North traffic has been shifted to the new bridge, RIDOT will begin demolition of the old I-95 North bridge. A new span will be built in the same location, and is expected to open by the end of 2012. In the span of just two years, the Department will have opened seven out of 10 bridges being built as part of this project.
Building the bridge in phases has allowed RIDOT to complete the reconstruction of the Pawtucket River Bridge with minimal impact to highway traffic and no reduction in travel lanes throughout the life of the project. The new bridge structure opening this spring will help improve travel along this stretch of I-95 by providing additional lanes for merging or exiting traffic on I-95 North.
Construction of the new Pawtucket River Bridge is a high priority for the Department. The bridge is being replaced through an $81 million contract with S&R/Pihl, a Joint Venture.
All schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change.
Detailed information, including detour maps, will be available at RIDOT's website at www.dot.ri.gov. 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