East Providence residents hear about Henderson Bridge reconstruction concepts

Will provide greater access to Waterfront Drive, add walking and biking lanes

By Mike Rego
Posted 4/25/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — Residents on both sides of the Seekonk River heard about proposed concepts for the reconstruction of the Henderson Bridge, which connects the cities of East Providence and …

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East Providence residents hear about Henderson Bridge reconstruction concepts

Will provide greater access to Waterfront Drive, add walking and biking lanes

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — Residents on both sides of the Seekonk River heard about proposed concepts for the reconstruction of the Henderson Bridge, which connects the cities of East Providence and Providence, at the first of several planned public meetings on the matter held Wednesday night, April 23.

The gathering was conducted in East Providence at the Riviera Restaurant, a business that sits at points of egress and ingress from the bridge on North Broadway.

“This project means so much to our community and will pretty much change the way people use the waterfront and have access to Waterfront Drive,” said East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva.

Added his counterpart from Providence, Mayor Jorge Elorza, “I see this as amazing opportunity to stitch our two communities together.”

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation announced in February of this year it had received an influx of federal funding thanks in part to the effort of U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who was able to help earmark almost $55 million for the project through the Senate Appropriations Committee. The newfound cash accelerated plans to replace the 52-year-old structure, which was slated to occur by 2025 as part of the DOT’s “RhodeWorks” plan. Replacement of the structurally deficient bridge is estimated to cost between $60-70 million.

“This is a really important project to the DOT,” said David Fish, Administrator of Project Management for RIDOT.

Mr. Fish said the Henderson Bridge has largest deficient deck area of those spans that haven’t been fixed to date as part of the state's “RhodeWorks” infrastructure initiative. He continued, “We feel we have a really solid conceptual design plan in place.”

The key elements to the initial phase of planning for the new Henderson Bridge include: adding walking and biking lanes; maintaining connection on Waterman Street from the East Side of Providence; introducing new roundabouts on both sides of the river; developing a new access points in East Providence to Waterfront Drive while maintaining the current ones to Massasoit Avenue, trimming the travel lanes from 12 to 11-feet wide, which is now the standard acceptable size; and lowering the bridge slightly on the E.P. side to accommodate, in part, the new access points and also making the bridge more symmetrical.

Anthony Pompei, project manager for RIDOT, said, though only two weeks into the process and after meeting with representatives from both municipal administrations, “I think we’re in a really good place right now.”

The new bridge will be narrower, with just one lane of travel in each direction to include the addition of some bike and pedestrian lanes. RIDOT noted the original bridge was "overbuilt" because the officials at the time anticipated a highway would eventually connect the end of the bridge in East Providence to Interstate 195. Obviously, that never happened.

The first phase of the project is the actual replacement of the bridge, which is expected to begin sometime this year. Mayor DaSilva, however, was already anticipating the benefits the new structure would provide to each municipality in the future.

“The reason both of us (he and Mayor Elorza) are so excited about this development is the way DOT envisions this and the way we envision this is opening up greater access to the waterfront, opening up greater pedestrian access to the waterfront, opening up greater bicycle and bike traffic access to waterfront. We see this streamlined process as benefitting both communities very well. It will enable development of huge tracts of land on our side of the river that right now aren’t developable and difficult to get to,” Mayor DaSilva said.

The next meeting on the matter is scheduled to take place sometime in May or early June and will be held on the Providence side of the river.

Photos by Richard W Dionne Jr

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