This afternoon, Senator Jack Reed joined with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin, RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis and Governor Donald Carcieri and Pawtucket Mayor James Doyle to break ground on a new bridge on I-95 designed to revitalize the gateway to the City of Pawtucket. A ceremony, held at the closed on-ramp from George Street to I-95, served to officially kick off the Pawtucket River Bridge Replacement Project.
“For Rhode Island to compete in the 21st century economy, we need a 21st century infrastructure system. Over the past eight years, we have aggressively addressed the need to replace and repair our roads and bridges along key transportation routes, from the completion of Route 403 and the Iway to the construction of the Sakonnet River Bridge and today’s groundbreaking,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. “We have made great improvements to the state’s infrastructure and enhanced the ease of moving goods and services to and from Rhode Island.”
Through this project, RIDOT plans to replace the aging Pawtucket River Bridge that dates back to 1958 and carries I-95 over Taft Street and the Pawtucket River. Three separate structures will be built: a bridge to carry I-95 Northbound; a bridge to carry I-95 Southbound; and a bridge on which the on and off ramps to George and School Streets will be located.
“Innovative construction staging will allow us to maintain all travel lanes throughout construction posing a minimal impact to the motoring public,” said Lewis. “Our innovative bidding process will also provide us with the shortest possible construction period at the best price.”
In addition, RIDOT will make some intersection improvements along George Street and Marrin Street, and the Department will also rehabilitate three additional bridges: the Garden Street Bridge, the Pine Street Bridge and the George Street Bridge.
Recognizing the significance of this project, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Jim Langevin secured additional funding to advance it. Through both Senate and House bills, the delegation secured a $2.26 million federal appropriation to help repair the bridge. They had also secured $1.9 million for the bridge in 2009.
“The Pawtucket River Bridge is a critical link for Rhode Islanders and our nation’s interstate highway system. I am pleased to have secured federal funding to help replace this bridge so it can be opened to all traffic. This is a smart investment that will improve safety, ease traffic congestion, create jobs, and get our economy moving again,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.
“This project to restore the Pawtucket River Bridge will help ease the strain on Rhode Islanders’ daily commute, generate local construction jobs, and keep this important artery safe and strong for years to come,” said Whitehouse. “I was proud to work with our delegation to obtain federal funding for the project and I will continue working to support improvements in our state’s transportation infrastructure.”
“Many drivers are reminded daily of the urgent need for a new bridge,” said Langevin. “I am so pleased to have worked in Washington with my colleagues to secure this funding so construction may begin, making one of our state’s major thoroughfares safe for all vehicles.”
Pawtucket Mayor Doyle and his design committee, created decorative pylons in an Art Deco style to replicate design elements at Pawtucket City Hall. The bridge will also include some decorative LED accent lighting.
“I am very pleased with the cooperation between the city’s Bridge Design Committee and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. Furthermore, I am relieved that the new design will eliminate the long existing problem created by the short distance between the George Street on ramp and the School Street off ramp,” said Mayor Doyle.
The current 18-ton posting is expected to be removed by Spring 2012. A $106 million contract with S&R/Pihl, Inc., a Joint Venture, sets the project completion date at Summer 2013.