Rhode Island Department of Transportation bridge engineer David Fish said the bridge will only be open to traffic traveling from the White Church towards Massasoit Avenue for roughly six weeks during staging for the project, which is currently slated to begin in October–November.
Mr. Fish said two-way traffic will be allowed through the morning commute, until about 9:30 a.m. He said this provision is spelled out in a traffic management plan and was implemented as a response to parents concerned about getting their kids to school.
Two-way traffic will be restored at the end of each work day.
Mr. Fish also said other periods of one way traffic may occur sporadically throughout construction on an as-needed basis.
Complete bridge closures, meanwhile, are expected to occur overnight for about two weeks later on in Phase I of the project, or the fall of 2014. Mr. Fish said these closures will be similar to what was implemented for the I-Way, when parts of Interstate 95 were closed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Mr. Fish said police details will be posted on-site during both the one-way traffic and complete closure portions of work to clear the bridge immediately if emergency vehicles need to traverse the span.
“We’d be able to do it instantly,” Mr. Fish said of clearing the bridge.
All the police details will be funded as part of the project, which includes 80 percent in federal funds and a 20 percent state match.
Fire Chief Gerald Bessette said he has been assured apparatus will be able to traverse the bridge as needed. The chief also said he’s looking forward to the project’s completion, when a weight limit will be lifted.
This weight limit currently prohibits ladder trucks from traveling either way across the bridge.
“I don’t like it but we’re living with it,” Chief Bessette said.
The limit also prohibits engines from using the bridge to return to Federal Road after a call has been answered. Rescues, Chief Bessette said, can use the bridge going both ways.
The White Church Bridge project is currently slated for advertisement this spring.