Using conventional construction methods, replacing the East Shore Expressway Bridge in East Providence would have resulted in a year of delays and congestion. Instead, RIDOT is about ready to begin an extended weekend closure of the bridge and replace it in just 80 hours.
"Projects like this highlight the work we're doing to not only rebuild our roads and bridges, but also to rebuild RIDOT," Governor Gina M. Raimondo said. "By being sensitive to the needs of the East Bay communities, and the impact long-term restrictions would have for residents and businesses in the area, RIDOT took a different approach to rebuild this bridge as quickly as possible."
"This bridge serves as the direct link to Rhode Island's East Bay communities, and it is vitally important that while we work to replace it as quickly as possible, we do so with minimum disruption to motorists," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. "Although there will be some inconvenience associated with the upcoming closure, it does represent the fastest path to getting this work done."
The replacement of the bridge, which carries traffic from I-195 East's Exit 7 to the East Shore Expressway southbound, will allow RIDOT to remove a 17-ton weight limit. This restriction has been in place for more than four years, requiring most truck traffic to divert on city streets. The East Shore Expressway Bridge is classified as functionally obsolete, with significant concrete cracking that limits its ability to service large vehicles, resulting in the weight limit.
The 80-hour closure begins on Friday, September 9 at 9 p.m. In addition to closing I-195 East's Exit 7 to the East Shore Expressway southbound, RIDOT also will close a section of Warren Avenue under the bridge, with local traffic only between the Pawtucket Avenue and Highland Avenue intersections. I-195 East's Exit 8 will remain open to Warren Avenue, however traffic will only be able to turn left and head eastbound.
During the closure, RIDOT will demolish the East Shore Expressway Bridge and complete work on the foundations for the new bridges. This will set the stage for the main focal point of the operation – the installation of the entire bridge's superstructure (steel beams and concrete deck), which was built in temporary staging areas on top of large supports adjacent to the old bridge.
Once the bridge foundational elements are ready, RIDOT will use large multi-wheel dollies to lift the new bridge off its supports, drive it down Warren Avenue, move it into position, and lower it on the new foundations. Finishing work to complete the riding surface between the bridge and the road segments on either side will come next, with the entire operation complete and all roads open to traffic no later than 5 a.m. on Tuesday, September 13. RIDOT has an incentive/disincentive clause in its contract – meaning that the contractor can earn $9,000 for every hour it opens the bridge ahead of schedule or face an equivalent penalty if late.
The public is discouraged from watching the demolition and bridge installation taking place, as there are no public viewing areas available. Those interested in checking on the progress of the bridge installation can view images (updated every 5 minutes) on RIDOT's website at www.dot.ri.gov/expressway. Follow RIDOTNews on Facebook or Twitter for updates on the project and any schedule changes.
Detour maps for both the East Shore Expressway and Warren Avenue closures also will be posted online at www.dot.ri.gov/expressway. Turn-by-turn directions are as follows:
East Shore Expressway Bridge (I-195 East to the East Bay)
Warren Avenue Closure Westbound Detour: Right on Warren Avenue/County Street Eastbound, toward Route 114A; Left on Waterman Avenue; Left on Pawtucket Avenue; Right on Warren Avenue
Warren Avenue Closure Eastbound Detour: Left on Pawtucket Avenue; Right on Waterman Avenue; Right on Warren Avenue; Left on Route 6 Eastbound
East Shore Expressway Southbound Closure Detour: Take Exit 6 off of I-195 Eastbound; Left on Warren Avenue; Right on Pawtucket Avenue; Left on Wampanoag Trail; Right onto Route 114 Southbound toward Wampanoag Trail
Following the installation of the East Shore Expressway Bridge, RIDOT will repeat the process for the nearby McCormick Quarry Bridge, which carries northbound traffic on East Shore Expressway from the East Bay to I-195 West. That bridge also will require an 80-hour closure, which is scheduled to take place from 9 p.m. on Friday, September 23 through 5 a.m. Tuesday, September 27.
While the East Shore Expressway Bridge is classified as functionally obsolete, the McCormick Quarry Bridge is structurally deficient. Its concrete piers are severely deteriorated, and are supplemented with large wooden timbers to carry the bridge's structural load. The poor condition of the bridge was observed first hand by Vice President Joe Biden in late May, when he visited Rhode Island to highlight the RhodeWorks infrastructure program and how Rhode Island is taking action to invest in the state's roads and bridges. This project is an example of the many deficient bridges RIDOT is going to fix as it moves forward with its RhodeWorks program.
The East Shore Expressway Bridge, which carries traffic from I-195 East to Route 114 South, carries 20,600 vehicles per day. The McCormick Quarry Bridge services 17,000 vehicles per day making the return trip from Route 114 North to I-195 West.
These two bridges, originally built back in 1959, are being replaced through a $16.7 million project with a $663,000 budget contingency. The project is on budget and on schedule, and expected to reach final completion in June 2017.
Contact: Charles St. Martin (401) 222-1362, Ext. 4007