Expect traffic slowdowns and detours as repairs to a bridge on Interstate 195 in Rhode Island could take as much as three months, according to that state's department of transportation.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation Tuesday, Dec. 12, closed the westbound side of the Washington Bridge between Providence and East Providence when workers found what the department said was "a critical failure of some bridge components." These particular components are part of the original Washington Bridge which was built in 1968, according to RIDOT.
The department said the damaged components were uncovered during the reconstruction of the bridge, which carries some 96,000 vehicles a day over the Seekonk River.
RIDOT said, "Initially, all the westbound lanes will be closed and traffic diverted to alternate routes. In the next two to three weeks RIDOT will move traffic to two lanes on the eastbound side at which time permanent repairs will begin on the westbound side. Two lanes of Interstate 195 East in the area of Exit 1A (India Street) were closed by RIDOT Tuesday, Dec. 12."
Beginning immediately and during the time that it takes to make the repairs and reopen the westbound side, travelers are asked to take the marked detour routes which are:
- Local traffic in East Providence: Take Exit 2 to Broadway. Follow detour signs to the Henderson Bridge and rejoin I-195 West at Gano Street.
- Southeast Massachusetts west of Fall River, MA: Take Massachusetts Exit 1 and follow Route 114A to Route 44 West. Follow onto Route 114 (Pawtucket Avenue) or Route 1A (Newport Avenue) to I-95. This is the preferred routes for trucks.
- Southeast Massachusetts east of Fall River (including traffic coming from Cape Cod and the New Bedford Area): Take Massachusetts Exit 14B to Route 24 North. Follow to I-495 North to I-95.
Depending on the severity of what RIDOT finds in its initial work, the repair could take three months or more, according to a statement from the agency. RIDOT said it has alerted emergency vehicle operators and officials in the adjoining cities and towns.
RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said, "In the process of reconstructing the Washington Bridge, our consultants found urgent safety issues that could cause a critical deficiency on this side of the bridge. We are closing the westbound side until we can make it completely safe."