DOT: Sakonnet, Escape bridges to open mid-September
SAKONNET AREA — The latest prediction from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) is that both the Sakonnet River Bridge (northbound) and the Escape Bridge should open in mid-September.
DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin said Friday that Sakonnet River Bridge progress had been slowed a bit during August by frequent thunderstorms. Waterproofing work required for the concrete deck subsurface requires dry conditions and the daily downpours complicated that process, he said.
"But the weather has been much drier lately and they are making up for lost time," he said.
Still on the northbound work list is some final concrete waterproofing, application of base coat asphalt in a few stretches toward the Portsmouth side, and asphalt top coating of the entire span. Some last bridge railing work is also unfinished.
The southbound lanes will likely be opened overnight when traffic is light because the transition involves lane changes and barrier removal.
Mr. St. Martin said that contractor Cardi Corporation then expects to be able to open the southbound lanes to vehicles about two weeks after the northbound lanes are in use.
The bridge was supposed to be ready for traffic on May 11, 2012, but that deadline was missed because of earlier problems with bad concrete in a couple of the support pilings and substandard metal brackets used to support the piling caps.
Then a late July finish date was projected, which was changed to the end of August/first week of September.
Under terms of the contract, Cardi could be fined up to $26,500 per day late although the actual fine has yet to be determined.
The bridge won't be entirely finished until sometime next year. Remaining work beyond this fall includes completion of the bicycle/pedestrian lane, landscaping work on the bridge approaches, the boat ramp on the Tiverton side, and demolition of the old bridge. Tolling won't happen until after the bridge is transferred to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, also sometime next year — probably summer.
The Escape Bridge (aka Cove Bridge) is also a couple weeks away from opening to vehicles, Mr. St. Martin said.
The remaining work list is similar to that on the Sakonnet River Bridge — waterproofing and sealing of concrete, final paving, completion of safety railings, and striping.
Mr. St. Martin said the bridge is now at a stage that it could be used in a hurricane-type emergency if there is a need to evacuate people from Island Park.
It is plenty strong enough at this stage, and temporary traffic during an emergency would not do it any harm, the engineers have said.