EAST PROVIDENCE — Representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) presented plans for the reconstruction of the Interstate 195 westbound on-ramp at the foot of Warren Avenue to the East Providence City Council at its meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 19.
The $3 million project would be performed under a relatively new RIDOT program called “accelerated replacement,” which means the on-ramp would be completely overhauled in just one month’s time. The project, currently in the end planning stages, would go out to bid and be finalized with eye towards implementation in the spring of 2015.
The roughly 60-year-old structure, officially referred to as Bridge No. 465, is in great need of repair. Those who are familiar with the on-ramp know wooden timbers have been installed to support the deteriorating pilings that hold up the bridge. According to DOT reps, some 8,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day and about 1,000 traverse the ramp during each of the morning and afternoon rush hour periods.
A significant portion of the project’s funding comes from a $500,000 grant the state received through the Federal Highway Administration’s “Every Day Counts” initiative, designed to identify and deploy innovation aimed at shortening project delivery, enhancing the safety of roadways and protecting the environment.
The replacement project’s scope includes full depth construction for bridge replacement, guardrail replacement , pavement milling and overlay of Warren Avenue, sidewalk replacement, wheelchair ramp upgrade and pavement milling and overlay.
To complete the project in just four weeks, rather than what would usually take at least a year, the accelerated replacement program calls for a majority of the on-ramp bridge to build off site in sections then put together on site. The bridge would be composed mainly of two sections of precast “superstructure,” the actually road surface, bonded together by a strip of adhesive concrete.
The project would be done in four phases: demolition, installation of the foundation, installation of sidewalls and abutments, installation of the superstructure beams and deck. Accelerated replacement has been used around the state in other similar scale projects as that of the I-195 on-ramp to “big” success, according to the DOT reps.
Part of allowing a project to be called a success includes having a minimal impact on motorists during construction. The DOT’s initial detour plans met with some skepticism Tuesday.
To lessen the burden on drivers, the plan proposed to close area in the low land of Warren Avenue during only the overnight hours of 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays. There would also be a need during demolition and final construction to close the location to traffic on two weekends from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.
Detours would shift traffic away from the construction area as well as that of Veterans Memorial Parkway to Purchase Street and Lyon Avenue. East Providence Police patrols of the area would be beefed up during construction and traffic signals would be modified to ease flow. Concerns were raised about speed and access, especially during nighttime hours. EPPD Chief Joseph Tavares said he would work with DOT officials to improve or tweak the existing detour plans.
Acting City Manager Paul Lemont broached the topic about tractor trailers attempting to navigate residential streets. He also called for the state to reinstall signage incorrectly removed by the DOT noting the 5,000-pound vehicle limit on Vets Parkway. In addition Mr. Lemont wants the limit to be enforced by local and state police, while limiting access of semis in the construction area.