BARRINGTON, RI – The once-busy bicycle bridges that cyclists and pedestrians relied upon to cross the Barrington River and Palmer River as they traversed the popular East Bay Bike Path will soon be restored thanks to new federal funding secured by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse.

Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, and Whitehouse, who serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, secured a $5 million earmark in the fiscal year 2022 appropriations law and also helped free up another $9 million in additional federal funding this summer to fund the project, which is estimated to cost a total of $24 million.

After the old bicycle bridges were forced to close due to safety concerns in the fall of 2019, bike path users have had to detour a hundred yards to Route 114, negotiate two busy intersections, and cross the river beside car traffic.

Now that $24 million in financing is in place -- including a dedicated stream of $14 million in federal funds -- Senators Reed and Whitehouse today joined Governor Dan McKee and officials from RIDOT and the U.S. DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for a groundbreaking ceremony.

“The East Bay Bike Path turned 30 this year. It’s a tremendous community asset and I’m proud to help deliver over $14 million in federal funds to help replace these bridge sections and make it stronger and safer for the next thirty years and beyond,” said Senator Reed.  “The bike path gets so much use and when this section closed down it became a real safety issue.  Replacing the bridges is a major capital investment that will pay off for generations.  I’m proud to have worked at the federal level to help make it happen.  And I’m looking forward to the day when we can return to this spot and bike across this new, smooth, accessible and sustainable section of the East Bay Bike Path.”

“The East Bay Bike Path is a Rhode Island gem, and the bridges spanning the Barrington and Palmer Rivers are two of its highlights,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I'm very pleased to join Senator Reed in securing funding to replace both bridges, which had been closed for several years.”

The selected design-build team of Aetna Bridge/VHB will start work on the project once the necessary environmental permits are in place and will demolish the old wood structures.  The commencement of work in the field is contingent on the permit process.

The 14.5 mile East Bay Bike Path connects Bristol to Providence.  Construction began in 1987 and was completed in the spring of 1992.  It was the state’s first major multi-town bike path.

In the fall of 2019, the two aging wooden trestle bridges that carry the East Bay Bike Path across the Barrington and Palmer rivers were found to be structurally deficient.  According to RIDOT: In fall of 2019, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) closed the two aging wooden trestle bridges that cross the Barrington and Palmer Rivers because of severe deterioration which made them unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. Known as the East Bay Bike Path Bridges, they were built in the 1880s as railroad bridges and were converted to bike paths in the 1980s.