The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced the closure of the Park Avenue Bridge over Amtrak's Northeast Corridor in Cranston effective this afternoon.
Early yesterday morning, one of RIDOT's outside engineering consultants inspected the bridge. The inspection found significant deterioration in the bridge's timber deck, and recommended that the bridge be closed. RIDOT dispatched one of its engineers to independently inspect the bridge. RIDOT's independent inspection confirmed the deterioration, and also determined that the structure must be closed for safety purposes.
This morning, the Federal Highway Administration Rhode Island Division's Division Structural Engineer inspected the bridge and concurred with RIDOT's decision to close it. Division Administrator Carlos Machado stated that "the bridge is a safety risk to the motoring public and must be closed."
The consultant's inspection was part of an accelerated bridge inspection effort that RIDOT initiated on May 6, 2015, with teams of engineers tasked to review the condition of all of Rhode Island's over 200 structurally deficient bridges. During the inspection of the Park Avenue Bridge, engineers noted the timber planks that make up the deck were stressed from the weight of automobile traffic. The bridge will remain open only for pedestrians and cyclists.
Motorists traveling on Park Avenue will be directed to detour routes with standard and electronic message signs. Police officers also will assist directing traffic at busy intersections. Detour routes include:
- Park Avenue Eastbound: Use Reservoir Avenue north and take the on-ramp to Route 10 South. Take the exit onto Park Avenue.
- Park Avenue Westbound: Use the on-ramp to Route 10 North, then take the exit to Reservoir Avenue south and follow to Park Avenue.
- Local Traffic Detour: Local traffic on Park Avenue should use Elmwood Avenue and Wellington Avenue to detour around the bridge closure. The road will remain open to local traffic on either side of the bridge.
The Park Avenue Bridge was built in 1906, and was last rehabilitated in 1991. It is classified as structurally deficient. While most bridges in the state are inspected every two years, RIDOT has been inspecting this bridge every year to keep a close eye on the deterioration. Before this week, the bridge was last inspected in September 2014.
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