The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced that it has contracted with SeaStreak, Rhode Island Fast Ferry and the Block Island Ferry to offer free ferry service to travelers who need to commute between the Bristol area and Providence starting Wednesday, December 20, 2023 weather permitting. The service is offered as one more choice for people affected by the closure of the westbound side of the Washington Bridge. The ferry service will run seven days a week at half hour intervals from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said, "We wanted to offer as many modes of transportation as we could to people who have been affected by the closure of one side of the Washington Bridge."
Those who wish to use the ferry can board at the State Street Dock in Bristol at 127 Thames Street. The Bristol Maritime Center will be open as well for waiting passengers. There is free parking at Colt State Park where riders can access a RIPTA shuttle to the dock. Shuttles will be available to take returning riders to their parked cars at designated times in the afternoon and the evening.
The ferry will dock at 25 Portugal Parkway (India Street) in Providence. There is free parking there with about 120 spaces. A RIPTA shuttle will be available to take riders between this location and Providence Station. The schedule for the ferry is available on the Washington Bridge closure web page at www.ridot.net/WashingtonBridgeClosure.
All three ferry providers are hiring deck hands and other staff.
"Public transportation serves as a crucial component in alleviating traffic congestion," said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA Chief Executive Officer. "RIPTA is proud to collaborate with RIDOT to provide a seamless and efficient commuting alternative for those affected by the closure of the westbound side of the Washington Bridge. We understand the challenges commuters face, and as such we are providing free RIPTA shuttle service to the ferry, ensuring a convenient and reliable connection between the East Bay and Providence."
The shuttle ride from Colt State Park to the Bristol boarding site is about five minutes and from the dock to Providence Station is about seven minutes. Riders will then have to find suitable transportation to their destination.
RIDOT plans to offer the service for 99 days total between December 20, 2023 and March 29, 2024.