After sitting on the drawing board for more than 30 years, the replacement for the badly deteriorated and structurally deficient network of bridges at the Route 6-10 interchange in Providence is finally moving forward, as the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has initiated a request-for-qualifications (RFQ) process to solicit bids from construction companies to design and build it.
Through RhodeWorks, $400 million is available to replace nine bridges in the interchange. Seven of these bridges are structurally deficient, many held up with temporary supports that were erected so long ago, they too are in need of repair. This year alone, RIDOT will spend $5 million just to maintain the bridges and keep them open and safe for motorists.
The project incorporates a new road design unveiled by Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza that preserves project budget and timeline, improves regional traffic flow, helps to reconnect surrounding neighborhoods, creates miles of new bike paths, and makes acres of new land available for development.
RIDOT anticipates construction to begin in the fall of 2017. Highlights of the 6/10 Interchange plan include:
- Direct Connection from Route 10 North onto Route 6 West: Road design includes the "missing move" connecting Route 10 North to Route 6 West - improving regional traffic flow and reducing traffic congestion in Olneyville.
- New pedestrian/bicycle routes: 1.4 miles of new bike paths will be constructed in two places over Amtrak's Northeast Corridor to connect pedestrians and bike riders traveling between Olneyville and the West End. Bike lanes will be added on an expanded Westminster Street overpass and on a newly rebuilt Tobey Street overpass. Broadway and Westminster Street will be redesigned using "complete streets" standards to make neighborhood roadways walkable, transit and bicycle-friendly.
- Connects neighborhoods: To diminish the visual obstruction between Olneyville and the West End neighborhoods of Providence, approximately half the length of the Huntington Viaduct will be demolished. RIDOT will replace the Huntington Viaduct with surface roads that maintain adequate traffic conditions.
- More greenspace and developable land: The Plainfield Street on-ramp will be eliminated to better connect city streets and open up more than four acres of additional real estate for development.
- Eliminates Harris Avenue Crossing: New plan eliminates the challenging cross-over merge at the Harris Avenue on-ramp, letting Harris Avenue traffic access Route 10 South without merging through Route 6 West traffic. Access from Harris Avenue to Route 6 West will also be maintained.
- Gateway aesthetics: Additional measures will be taken for landscaping, visual improvements and reduction of noise and neighborhood buffering. The new plan also includes a lighting arrangement similar to that used on the Sakonnet River Bridge. These improved aesthetics will create a signature entranceway to Providence from Route 6 and 10.
The project is expected to create approximately 1,700 direct job years, according to a formula used by the Council of Economic Advisors.