The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced that it will reopen the Laurel Avenue Bridge in Coventry today at approximately 2 p.m. The bridge has been closed since April 2010, when historic flooding forced the closure of many bridges in Kent County and South County.
Through a $2.9 million design-build contract with Cardi Corporation/CME Associates, RIDOT completely replaced the bridge, which carries Laurel Avenue over the South Branch of the Pawtuxet River. The bridge is a vital connection for residents in the Anthony Village area, and is one of only three crossings of the Pawtuxet River in Coventry that permit north-south travel between the Route 3 (Tiogue Avenue) and Route 117 (Main Street/Washington Street) business corridors.
This was the first design-build bridge contract for RIDOT, using a team approach with a design engineering firm and a construction company working closely together to design and replace the structure in as short a time frame as possible. The Department awarded the contract to Cardi/CME in Fall 2011, with design work beginning immediately. Groundbreaking took place in March 2012, with an expected completion of early December. The opening this week is about three weeks ahead of schedule.
"We are very pleased with the work of the design-build team in getting this bridge open as quickly as possible," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. "We thank the community for their patience as we worked to correct damage caused by the historic flooding conditions Coventry experienced in 2010."
The project also involved restoration of the riverbed and walls under the bridge, which is adjacent to a large dam. The force of the flood waters severely eroded the walls of the river, compromising the structural integrity of the former bridge. Using large sandbags to divert the river's flow, RIDOT built a concrete base – called a splash pad – at the base of the falls. This was tied into new concrete walls on both sides of the river. To preserve the historic nature of the dam and river walls, RIDOT saved the original granite blocks that were washed out, cut them into 10-inch-thick pieces and used them as a facing to the new concrete to give the appearance of a laid-granite wall.
The bridge itself was built on a series of drilled piles placed behind the concrete walls and set 60 feet deep, well below the riverbed. The design sets the bridge apart structurally from the river walls, which will ensure its stability and longevity even if extreme flooding occurs again on the Pawtuxet River.
The new bridge is 84 feet long, and four feet wider than its predecessor. It includes sidewalks on both sides, affording great views of the river and adjacent mill buildings.
Immediately after the bridge's closing in 2010, RIDOT issued a contract to demolish the old bridge at a cost of $289,000. The Department spent an additional $18,000 following the demolition to stabilize the river walls which were in danger of further erosion and collapse in times of high river levels.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362, Ext. 4007