EAST PROVIDENCE — The North Broadway Bridge Project is well on its way to completion nearly one full year prior to its originally anticipated time frame, Rhode Island Department of Transportation Deputy Chief Engineer Frank Corrao stated recently.
The $2.8 million project is expected to be finished by mid-December of this year, well ahead of the November 2013 date believed to be needed when it began in earnest in early 2012.
The bridge, which was demolished last winter, really began to take shape in the last few weeks when the support beams over the main span were put into place. The concrete subsurface was laid last week. Construction crews from project contractor D’Ambra, of Warwick, continue to work on the bridge structure as well as the new sidewalks being installed at and around the site.
“As of right now, all of the structural components of the bridge are in place,” Mr. Corrao said. “The box beams and concrete slabs have been installed. The contractor continues to work to secure those elements. And the sidewalks in the area are about 90 percent complete.”
Mr. Corrao also said traffic congestion has lessened since the project started. While East Providence Police officers remain a presence, they haven’t been stationed at the intersection of Wilson and Roger Williams Avenues since its early days.
“We see that happen with just about every project we do,” Mr. Corrao said of the snarls. “Once people figure things out, change their driving patterns, it usually settles down. It has less of an impact on their daily commutes.”
The reason for the original anticipated length of the project, according to Mr. Corrao, had to do with the fact that though the bridge appears to the naked eye as being only one structure it actually has two distinct parts. The main span of the bridge crosses over the 10-Mile River. Another smaller portion crosses an overflow spillway.
The RIDOT and the contractors, at first, didn’t believe the two structures could be rebuilt at the same time, which meant the project was expected to take nearly two years to complete. However, because of vociferous concerns expressed by neighboring residents and motorists, the two entities sought out a way to do the necessary construction projects concurrently.
“The issue was we had two bridges to build and we originally believed we could only do just one at a time,” Mr. Corrao explained. “But because of the public outcry, we were asked to reassess the situation and come up with some other measures. We sat down with the contractor and attempted to accelerate the process, which we eventually did.”
Weather conditions, the lack of snow and rain during its duration, also helped expedite the project. And some minor environmental issues concerning the spillway span halted work for just a few days.
The changes in the plan did come at a cost, an additional $240,000 to the price tag. The project is being 80-percent funded by U.S. Department of Transportation dollars and 20 percent from the RIDOT.
“It did cost more, but the project will be done at least six months earlier than expected,” Mr. Corrao said.
The next step in the process most North Broadway travelers saw was the milling of the approaching stretch of road so it can be repaved to coincide with the bridge deck. Of note as well, the separate sidewalk project being done along the adjacent part of North Broadway will able to be completed prior to the street being resurfaced as well.