Will there be a detour? No lane or road closures are planned in 2019. During an eight-week period from July 5 to August 31, 2020, the bridge will be closed to all traffic. The suggested detour uses Chestnut Street, Metacom Avenue and Franklin Street. Construction on Metacom Avenue is ongoing in summer 2019 to upgrade traffic signals and three intersections and repave. It will be finished in late 2019. RIDOT will adjust traffic signal timings prior to the bridge closure to expediate traffic flow on the detour route and will carefully monitor traffic conditions once the detour is in place.
Why can't you build a bridge off-site and install it in one day? We will build major portions of the bridge off site, including the bridge deck components. However, there are a number of constraints that prohibit the type of rapid bridge replacements people have seen elsewhere in the state. These include the topography of the land, lack of access to the bridge abutments and other environmental and historic preservation concerns.
Can't you build a temporary bridge to handle traffic during construction? Building a temporary bridge would require impacting environmentally sensitive areas, removal of large trees in the area and the taking of private property. The cost of building a temporary bridge would exceed $1.4 million - about 40 percent of the total project cost. Given the cost and many adverse impacts to the area surrounding the bridge, the use of a temporary bridge is not feasible or fiscally responsible.
Is this the fastest way to replace this bridge? As mentioned above, RIDOT will use accelerated bridge construction methods to reduce the overall closure time. The bridge is designed with precast concrete beams and approach slabs which eliminates the need to build forms, install steel reinforcing bars, and pour and cure new concrete. RIDOT will build a new substructure behind the masonry walls that support the existing bridge. This avoids the need to drive sheet piling, a noisy operation which would be more impactful to the environment. These methods allow RIDOT to build the bridge as quickly as possible, at the highest quality, and with the least effect on the environment.