Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and Senator Jack Reed this morning joined Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Michael P. Lewis to officially open the new Sakonnet River Bridge. This vital link to Aquidneck Island carries Route 24 and connects Tiverton and Portsmouth. With the opening of the new bridge, the 18-ton weight limit, in effect since June 2008, has been removed.
Although the bridge is open to traffic, work continues on the approach roads on both sides of the span. As part of this activity, the Department temporarily closed the ramp from Route 138 (Main Road) to Route 24 south for approximately two months. A signed detour is in place. RIDOT expects construction activities on the segments of Route 24 approaching the bridge to continue through Spring 2013.
"Getting to and from Aquidneck Island is now much improved for residents, businesses, and the trucking community thanks to the opening of the new Sakonnet River Bridge," said Governor Chafee. "Sound infrastructure is a key component of economic development. With that in mind, I am pleased to say that this impressive structure has clearly been built to last."
Cardi Corporation has been building the new bridge since its groundbreaking in April 2009. At $163.7 million, the Sakonnet River Bridge Replacement project represents the largest single construction contract in RIDOT's history.
"The Sakonnet River Bridge is an important transportation link connecting our communities. I am pleased to have secured $15 million in federal funding to help put more than 350 people to work building this bridge and making it safer and more efficient," said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who noted that then-Senator Chafee and former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy secured $7 million and $1.6 million respectively, bringing the federal contribution for the project to $23.6 million.
With next year's project completion and the installation of a shared-use path, RIDOT will also offer pedestrians and cyclists a reconnection to both sides of the bridge that they haven't had in more than 50 years since the Old Stone Bridge was taken down.
"We are pleased to deliver a new bridge to the host communities of Tiverton and Portsmouth," said RIDOT Director Lewis. "Although the project is not yet complete, we are offering an improved structure that should better withstand the test of time."
As part of this project, RIDOT is also rehabilitating the existing Hummocks Avenue Bridge as well as creating a new single-span Evans Avenue Bridge. The Sakonnet River Bridge Replacement Project also includes the creation of a public boat ramp with a fishing pier. The boat ramp and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant fishing pier is currently under construction on Riverside Drive in Tiverton and it is slated for completion in Summer 2013.
The Sakonnet River Bridge also includes a number of decorative and architectural features. These include LED-based lighting to illuminate the bridge's piers in the river and light posts in the center median. The bridge approaches will also include backlit, bronze plaques that will depict the Portsmouth and Tiverton town seals, as well as the Rhode Island State Seal anchor.
All construction on the new bridge should wrap up in 2013. RIDOT will also begin preparing a contract to demolish the old Sakonnet River Bridge.
Contact: Heidi Gudmundson (401) 222-1362, Ext. 4009