The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) tonight will be performing repairs on a support system in use at the Huntington Viaduct Bridge in Providence, one of many bridges that makes up the Route 6-10 interchange that's in a state of advanced deterioration.
Based on the findings the bridge is safe for travel and can remain open to traffic, however RIDOT is addressing the problem immediately.
RIDOT inspects all of its bridges every two years, but last spring the new RIDOT administration moved to an annual inspection requirement for all structurally deficient bridges, such as this one. The results of an inspection performed yesterday observed severe deterioration where temporary support columns contact the ground under a pier that supports the off-ramp from Route 6 East to Route 10 South. One of four temporary steel columns in this location was found to be nearly severed, and could be deflected by hand. While deterioration was noted in previous inspections (the inspection prior to this one occurred in July 2015), the decay was not to the level observed this week.
"We have been saying repeatedly over the past year and a half that the replacement of the Route 6-10 interchange can no longer be ignored and we have serious concerns about our ability to keep operating it without setting weight limits or closing part of the interchange," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. "Unfortunately findings such as this one are not unexpected, and underscore the urgency in addressing Route 6-10 now. And as I've said before, we are now having to replace the temporary bracing with more temporary bracing."
RIDOT's immediate repairs for this bridge will focus on stabilizing the column before it deteriorates further and becomes a hazard that could fall onto the adjacent train tracks. In the coming days, RIDOT intends to hire a contractor to do further repairs to ensure that temporary bracing properly supports the bridge again. The shoring has been in place for 13 years in anticipation of a bridge repair or replacement project that never happened.
The structurally deficient bridge carries 53,800 vehicles a day, and the affected ramp – which carries traffic from Route 6 East to Route 10 South – serves 19,000 vehicles a day. It has been categorized as structurally deficient for more than 20 years.
Seven out of the Route 6-10 interchange's nine bridges are rated structurally deficient. RIDOT is poised to advertise a $6 million repair contract later this year to address the deficiencies in the support system. That investment is only a temporary measure to keep the interchange safe and operational for today's traffic.
"As I have stated repeatedly, these are only Band Aid solutions that will be a throwaway investment until the new infrastructure is built," Alviti said. "We cannot afford to keep flushing away money on supports so badly corroded they need to be supported themselves, and on other measures to keep safe and open a system of bridges that have been neglected for far too long."
The Route 6-10 interchange is a critical east-west regional link for automobile and truck traffic between Interstates 295, 95 and 195. Nearly 100,000 trips are made through the trunk of the interchange each day with two thirds of those trips originating or destined for points outside of Providence.
Contact: Charles St. Martin (401) 222-1362, Ext. 4007