Recently passed TIP amendment moves funds up for replacement spans
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) today announced the closure of the Barrington River and Palmer River bike path bridges, which carry the East Bay Bike Path, starting Friday, November 1. They will be replaced.
RIDOT has inspected these wooden deck bridges every three months. Both bridges are structurally deficient and have advanced deterioration of structural elements. Originally used by the Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad, the bridges date back to 1900 and were repurposed in 1990 as part of the original construction of the bike path. Two years ago, RIDOT closed the sidewalks on both structures because of the deteriorating condition of the bridges.
"It's no secret that our bridges are suffering from years of deterioration and lack of proper funding for repairs. Unfortunately, that is true when it comes to these two bike path bridges," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. "Based on the level of deterioration we're seeing, we must close them for the safety of all path users."
"Our scenic bikeways add to the beauty and quality of recreating and living in Rhode Island," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Although it may pose an inconvenience for East Bay Bike Path users, performing repairs and maintenance are necessary in order to ensure public access and enhance enjoyment of these recreational assets. There are more than 60 miles of bike paths in Rhode Island that are used by nearly two million people each year."
As part of the recently approved major amendment to the state's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), RIDOT moved up the funding to replace these bridges by three years. RIDOT will begin design work shortly, and that work will be ongoing next year. As design advances, RIDOT will create a construction schedule. The bridges will remain closed during this process. $10 million has been allocated for this work.
During the closure, signs will direct path users to dismount and walk their bikes on the sidewalks of the nearby vehicular bridges. Shoulder widths are narrow on these brides, and riding over the bridges is not recommended. Alternatively, users may wish to choose between cycling the northern or southern portions of the bike path. This includes an 8.5-mile segment from India Point Park in Providence to the Police Cove Park in Barrington and a 6-mile segment from just south of the Palmer River Bridge in Warren to Independence Park in Bristol. RIDOT is coordinating with the Town of Warren regarding a temporary access point to the bike path in the vicinity of Crescent Street.