standing road work

Work will start next week on the rehabilitation of the Wood River Valley Bridge, which carries I-95 over Mechanic Street and the Wood River on the Hopkinton-Richmond line, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation announced Friday. The structure is about a mile north of Exit 2.

The $16.8 million project is one of a dozen design-build projects underway this year and next, the department said. Initial construction activities will require a shift to the right for both northbound and southbound travel on the interstate. Lanes will be narrowed and shoulders will be closed.

No travel lanes will be closed during daytime hours, peak travel periods, weekends or holidays, with two lanes of travel open in both directions, RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin said. Single lane closures may be needed Sunday through Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Little to no delay is expected, although the department is urging motorists to reduce speed and drive carefully through the work zone.

The project is expected to be finished in the fall of 2019. For the duration of the work, traffic on Mechanic Street under the bridge will be reduced to a single-lane alternating traffic pattern, controlled by a temporary traffic signal.

The initial traffic shift will provide access to the median area of the bridge, which will be paved to accommodate future lane shifts, the department said. After about one month, all traffic will move to the I-95 North side of the bridge so RIDOT can begin work on the I-95 South side. In each phase, two lanes of travel in each direction will be maintained.

By next summer, the traffic pattern will change again so work can begin on the I-95 North side, with traffic then shifting to the I-95 South side.

During the project, the department will replace portions of the superstructure of the 270-foot-long bridge and perform concrete repairs. The bridge was built in 1953 and carries about 50,000 vehicles per day.

In its press release, the department said that performing the rehabilitation now would avoid a more expensive replacement project in the future, “which would cost at least 50 percent more and take another six months to a year longer to build with far more impact to the local community and the Wood River.”

The department also said that the design-build method allows faster completion of jobs when compared with the traditional approach of hiring separate companies to do design work and construction. For this project, the DOT contracted with a design-building team earlier this year to complete all the steps needed before breaking ground.

The team for this project is Aetna Bridge Co., based in Warwick, and the engineering consulting firm VHB (Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc.), which has professional offices throughout the East Coast, including Providence. 

The job is part of RhodeWorks, the transportation department’s effort to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair. More information is available at www.ridot.net/RhodeWorks.

blauxbachand@thewesterlysun.com