Key Rhode Island bridge to be demolished due to structural issues, governor says

a critical rhode island Gov. Dan McKee said Thursday that the bridge, which was partially closed in December due to safety concerns, needs to be removed and replaced.

McKee said at an afternoon news conference that the Washington Bridge is an important gateway to Providence, spanning the Seekonk River, connecting to Interstate 195 and serving as an important gateway to Providence. An independent review of the Washington Bridge found that the bridge has other structural deficiencies and needs to be replaced.

He said the state must replace the bridge’s superstructure and some or all of its substructure.

Partially closed Providence Bridge could suffer ‘catastrophic’ structural failure

“We’re going to fix the bridge, we’re going to do it right and we’re going to keep people safe,” he said.

mackey says his government An investigation is underway into what led to the need for the bridge to be closed and replaced.

“We will hold all responsible parties fully accountable,” he said. “The day of reckoning is coming, and it’s coming soon.”

Construction crews work on the eastbound lanes of the Washington Bridge in Providence, Rhode Island, on August 4, 2007. (AP Photo/Stew Milne, File)

Rhode Island Department of Transportation Secretary Peter Alviti said the new bridge is expected to be substantially completed and open to traffic between March and September 2026.

He said the cost to remove and replace the bridge should be between $250 million and $300 million. The state is looking at a range of funding sources, including federal grants.

During the demolition and construction of the new bridge, the state will realign six lanes on the eastbound bridge structure – three in each direction.

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Alvitti said the eastbound bridge is a separate structure. He said the state had a structural engineering firm determine that the six lanes were safe, and then had a second engineering firm review the first firm’s work to confirm the bridge was safe.

Alviti said the Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into the need to suddenly close the bridge.

House Speaker Joseph Shikach and Senate President Dominic Ruggerio issued a joint statement Thursday acknowledging the disruptions faced by Rhode Island drivers and pledging to work with the state’s congressional delegation to pursue federal funding.

“We caution that the costs quoted today are only estimates,” they said. “As we have seen on many projects, construction costs often exceed initial estimates.”

The bridge carries nearly 100,000 vehicles every day.

The sudden closure of the westbound line in mid-December initially wreaked havoc on traffic, turning a 40- to 45-minute drive into hours, stranding commuters for hours and causing others to deviate from their normal routes. Some schools Close and take classes remotely.

The westbound portion of the Washington Bridge, built in 1969, is rated “poor” according to the National Bridge Inventory released by the Federal Highway Administration in June.

A bridge’s overall rating is determined by whether the condition of any of its individual components (deck, superstructure, substructure, or culverts (if present)) is poor or below rated.

Alviti warned in a 2019 grant application to repair the bridge and improve traffic flow that the bridge was in poor condition, writing that the bridge was “close to a state of permanent disrepair.”

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According to federal data, the bridge is inspected every 24 months. State officials said the last inspection was in July.

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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