The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced that it has reopened the Frenchtown Brook Bridge in East Greenwich about one month earlier than originally planned. The bridge opened at approximately 1 p.m. this afternoon.
The scheduled closure period was for no more than 65 days, but the accelerated bridge construction techniques used for this replacement project allowed the Department to demolish the old bridge, assemble the new structure using precast concrete components, and reopen the road to traffic in only 33 days.
RIDOT included an incentive clause in its contract with Aetna Bridge Company. The clause provides a $3,000 per day incentive, up to 30 days, to the contractor for opening the bridge early. The Department closed the bridge to all traffic on July 30.
"Going into this project, we knew that it would take only a third of the time to replace this bridge compared with the time it would have taken if we used traditional construction methods," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. "We are pleased to be able to take this approach with the Frenchtown Brook Bridge and reopen it as quickly as possible for drivers in East Greenwich and North Kingstown who rely on this bridge on a daily basis."
RIDOT will evaluate all future bridge projects to determine if they can be built using accelerated bridge construction techniques. Not all bridges can be rehabilitated or replaced using these methods. A number of factors need to be weighed including the impact to traffic (as the use of these techniques often calls for a total road closure), the complexity of utility relocations and the amount of work needed to be accomplished in the project.
The 57-year-old Frenchtown Brook Bridge was replaced through a $1.9 million contract with Aetna. The project is one of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Highways for LIFE demonstration projects geared to advance longer-lasting highway infrastructure using innovative methods to accelerate construction of roads and bridges. One of the first of its kind in Rhode Island, this project received $620,000 in special Federal funding through this program.
The Department is planning to rehabilitate the East Shore Expressway Bridge in East Providence using accelerated bridge construction methods. In August 2011, FHWA awarded RIDOT a Highways for LIFE grant in the form of a waiver of the 20 percent state match for this project, valued at approximately $600,000. This bridge, which carries traffic from I-195 East onto Exit 7 (Route 114) and over Warren Avenue, was built in 1959 and is considered structurally deficient. In May 2011 RIDOT posted a 17-ton weight limit on this bridge, which serves as the primary access route to the East Bay area of Rhode Island.
Much like the Frenchtown Brook Bridge, the use of accelerated bridge construction methods for the East Shore Expressway Bridge will substantially shorten construction time. As currently proposed, components of the replacement bridge would be built off site and moved into position using self-propelled modular transporters. These devices were used on the Iway project, chiefly for moving the new Providence River Bridge from its assembly site at the Quonset Business Park to barges waiting to transport it to Providence in 2006.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362, Ext. 4007