It’s almost here: On Monday, June 23, the Dept. of Transportation contractor Cardi Corporation will begin work on the Middle Road bridge over Route 4, closing the bridge to all traffic for the two months.
DOT said it waited until school was out to lessen the inconvenience that will be caused by shutting down a major town artery – but it will still be very inconvenient for many who live on Middle Road or are accustomed to using it.
The bridge is being closed to repair the deck and joints and to reconstruct sidewalks on the bridge, according to a press release from the DOT. “This work is being completed through a $2.9 million contract with the Cardi Corporation that covers bridge repairs in nine communities,” the release read.
“Closing the bridge for this two-month period allows us to complete the work much more quickly and cost effectively than if we worked on half of the bridge at a time and restricted travel to one lane,” said DOT’s Rose Amaral last week. “It also provides a much safer work zone than phased construction, with workers positioned so close to live traffic.”
Signs for the detours are being installed this week and some preliminary work has started.
“The closure of the Middle Road bridge will add vehicle traffic to Division Street, Route 4 and Frenchtown Road. I was told that RIDOT will be monitoring traffic on these roads,” said police Lt. Brian Clement. Howland Drive – which will be used as part of the detour route – will also see increased traffic.
Clement said the police response times will not be as affected as one might think.
“Police and fire work commonly work around road closures due to traffic accidents, storm damage, flooding, and construction. Our patrol officers are assigned districts to patrol. We divide the town into districts so that town is fully covered and all residents receive similar response times to calls for police service,” he said.
Unlike fire personnel, who respond from a particular station, police are usually on the road.
“The police car is basically a mobile police station with a radio and a computer for reports, paperwork, and messaging,” Clement said.
“Taking out the ‘middle’ route through the town will have an effect but the dispatchers will send officers to calls based on the location of the call and the location of officers,” he said. “For example: An officer driving on Cindy Ann Drive (just east of Route 4) would normally be the closest officer to send to a call on Spring Valley Drive (just west of Route 4). With the bridge closure, dispatch would send the officer who is already on the west of Route 4. Officers responding from other districts would know to use Division Street, Route 4 or Frenchtown Road. The roving officer will spend more time on the west side of Route 4 until the bridge is reopened.”
Fire Chief Russell McGillivray said the fire service separates the town into two sections – east of Route 2 (South County Trail) and west of Route 2, with trucks from Station One (Main Street) as first responders for all calls east of Route 2 and trucks from Station Two (Frenchtown Road) as first responders for those calls west of Route 2. So that initial responder will arrive as quickly as it does now, with Middle Road open.
But he said, “It may take longer for the second truck to show up because it’s going to have to drive around.”
McGillivray emphasized that every firefighter is a trained EMT-cardiac personnel and every truck is, in fact, a rescue truck.
“The fire trucks are licenced as non-transporting advanced life support ambulances so they carry all the same equipment as the ambulances,” he said.
He said admitted there will be inconvenience, but said he didn’t think it would present a threat to public safety.
“We’ve already been training about and talking about it,” he said.
DOT said detour routes will be set up using South County Trail, Division Street and Howland Road.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this work may cause,” said DOT in its release. “Please contact us at 401-222-2450 or [email protected] if you have any questions or need assistance. Information is also available on RIDOT’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RIDOTNews or Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/RIDOTNews.”