The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced that it is scheduled to open the second span of the new Pawtucket River Bridge as early as Friday, September 14, 2012. The opening of this structure will allow RIDOT to shift I-95 South to the new span and fully lift the bridge's 18-ton weight limit, which requires trucks and other large vehicles to use local detours or longer highway detours.
"This is an important step in this project, one that benefits the State, the City of Pawtucket and all highway users," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. "We're pleased to be able to lift the weight limit from this vital structure and look forward to opening the final span next year."
The work needed to shift I-95 South traffic to the new bridge will require lane closures tonight and Thursday. Tonight's work will take place on I-95 North, with one lane closing at 9 p.m., a second lane closing at 11 p.m., and a full closure from midnight to 4 a.m. The contractor will keep a similar schedule on Thursday night for I-95 South, with one lane closing at 8 p.m., a second lane closing at 10 p.m., and a full closure from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. All schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change.
During the full highway closures, motorists can expect delays and should seek alternate routes such as Route 146 and I-295. All lanes are scheduled to reopen by 5 a.m. each day, prior to the morning commute.
With the shifting of travel lanes to this new bridge, motorists on I-95 South will no longer have access to Exit 27 (Downtown). RIDOT will immediately begin demolition of the old I-95 South span and will build a new bridge in the same footprint. The bridge is expected to open in mid-2013.
During the closure of Exit 27, motorists will have two options to reach their destination. RIDOT will establish detours with trailblazing signage both before and after the closed off-ramp, at Exit 30 (Roosevelt Ave.) and at Exit 25 (Smithfield Ave.).
Copies of detour maps and turn-by-turn directions are available on RIDOT's website at www.dot.ri.gov.
RIDOT opened the first span of the new bridge in April, eliminating the northbound truck detour. 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 during peak travel periods throughout the life of the project.
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. By the end of 2012 – in the span of just two years – the Department will have opened seven out of nine bridges being built as part of this project.
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 can be found on RIDOT's social media sites Twitter and Facebook.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362 x4007