North Broadway Bridge Project in East Providence accelerates towards an even earlier finish
EAST PROVIDENCE — Referred to officially by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation as the "10-Mile River Project: Bridges Nos. 478 and 479," the twin spans being reconstructed on North Broadway are expected to finish ahead of their already-accelerated completion schedule.
The project, which began last winter, was well on its way to being done and dusted nearly one full year prior to its previously-expected near two-year build window: winter 2011 to late fall 2013.
Due to early construction schedule modifications, that changed dramatically. The bridges were then expected to be finished by mid-December of this year. As has been the case throughout the construction process, however, weather and relative good fortune smiled upon the $2.8 million project.
According to RIDOT Deputy Chief Engineer Frank Corrao, work is now expected to be completed and traffic will flow both ways over the spans by mid-November or about three-weeks time.
"Good weather has limited the number of days we weren't able to work. There's been very little down time," Mr. Corrao said.
Within the last few weeks, motorists have witnessed construction crews begin to put the finishes touches on the bridges. The cement perimeter barriers were poured and bolts for the guard rails put into position. Several neon orange construction barrels were also stacked and moved off site. Protective fencing was taken down.
Work on utility lines (water and electric) was completed about a week ago. Approximately 100 feet of pavement leading to the bridge north as well as west from Centre Street and east from Roger Williams Avenue was regraded then repaved a few days later on Monday, Oct. 22.
The span was safe enough and in good working order to allow for use by participants in the annual East Providence Firefighters Freaky 5k Road Race Sunday, Oct. 21.
"We have some minor paving left. We need to put the final traffic markings down. There's some landscaping that needs to be done around the river and spillway. And the railings need to be put up. That's just about all that's left," Mr. Corrao added.
The bridge, which was demolished last winter, really began to take shape in July when the support beams over the main span were put into place. The concrete subsurface was also laid at that time. Construction crews from project contractor D’Ambra of Warwick worked on the bridge structure and installed new sidewalks at and around the site. Ever since, continued near optimal weather has allowed the build to literally motor along.
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 span crosses an overflow spillway.
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. Weather conditions, the lack of snow and rain last winter, also helped expedite the process.
"I think this project has been very successful," Mr. Corrao said. "I thought we worked very well with the community and the contractor. The weather cooperated. It really couldn't have gone much better."
Pawtucket Avenue overpass update
Late last week, crews from RIDOT removed several jersey barriers on the north side of the Pawtucket Avenue/Interstate 195 overpass, which were deemed a danger to pedestrians especially students walking to and from nearby East Providence High School.
According to RIDOT Chief of Information and Public Relations Charles St. Martin, State Rep. Helio Melo intervened on behalf of city residents about the dangers of walking on the overpass with the barriers in place. City Department of Public Works chief Steve Coutu noted the removal of the barriers by a DOT work detail Thursday afternoon, Oct. 18, at the conclusion of the Budget Commission public hearing.
Mr. St. Martin said the reason why the barriers were there in the first place was to keep traffic away from the ailing portion of the structure and to make sure no cars jumped the sidewalks. In place of the barriers, reflective paddles were installed to keep drivers clear of the area.
Mr. St. Martin said an accident made the barriers necessary for precautionary reasons. At some point relatively recently, DOT don't know for certain, a tractor trailer made contact with the overpass, damaging support beams below the surface. The damaged beams were found during a routine inspection and the barriers then went up.
Though significant, the damage to the structure does not make it a priority on the DOT to-do list. It isn't scheduled to be replaced until spring 2014. When it is replaced, however, Mr. St. Martin said it's likely the complete span will be built off site then transported to the area and set into place over just one weekend's time, much the same way the I-Way Bridge was constructed.