The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will lower the posting for the Sakonnet River Bridge from 22 to 18 tons. This reduced posting will also coincide with the new State law restricting any vehicles/trailers with more than two axles per unit from crossing the bridge. Signs announcing the new restrictions will be put in place within two weeks. The Sakonnet River Bridge is still safe for travel, yet heavier vehicles will have to seek alternate routes.
House Bill H-8219 Substitute A as Amended was signed into law by Governor Donald L. Carcieri on June 12, 2008. RIDOT supports this new legislation as a practical, efficient and effective means of ensuring that overweight vehicles do not cross the Sakonnet River Bridge.
“We understand that this new posting will continue to adversely affect the Aquidneck Island community,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “However, our goal all along has been to preserve the safety and integrity of the bridge until we are able to replace it.”
RIDOT inspects all of its bridges at least once every two years. Since the Sakonnet River Bridge had been previously posted at 22 tons in June 2007, inspections were increased to every six months. The latest inspection and load rating analysis for the bridge showed additional deterioration and prompted RIDOT to set its new weight limit at 18 tons.
Built in 1957, the Sakonnet River Bridge carries Route 24 over the Sakonnet River. With an average daily traffic count of approximately 40,000 vehicles per day, the bridge connects the towns of Tiverton and Portsmouth. The new bridge will be built just to the south of the existing bridge. RIDOT expects to advertise the replacement project in late summer and open the new span to traffic in 2011. The following year the Department anticipates completion of the project. Demolition should start the year after that.
Motorists with concerns or questions can contact RIDOT’s Customer Service office at 401-222-2450, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.