Above: The temporary bridge last winter, when work was largely halted.
After more than a year of revisions and more revisions, the temporary Division Street bridge over Route 4 opened Wednesday (11/17) night, shifting traffic from the existing bridge – built in 1967 – so that it can be torn down and replaced, starting in December.
The temporary bridge ran into problems in September 2020, when a sag was detected in the southbound arch. The material used as fill between the arch and the roadway was removed and eventually it was decided to try a lighter “fill” but the sag reappeared so again the fill was removed and engineers went back to the drawing board.
In September, during a visit to WPRO’s Gene Valicenti, state Dept. of Transportation head Peter Alviti spoke about the problems with the temporary bridge after someone called in about it, referring to “the Quonset Hut bridge” because of its resemblance to that form. (Find the clip HERE, with remarks about the Division Street bridge at the 5:10 mark.)
“The contractor for the Division Street Bridge has come forth with a plan to be able to proceed with the project and they are proceeding with it. It has cleared the review of our engineers, a consulting firm that we hired to look over the shoulder of the contractor, and the Federal Highway Administration. Although we all have some concerns, we are allowing them to proceed and will be monitoring it very closely. Work should be starting out there very shortly.
“One of the two arches has been fine all along. The other buckled a bit and when they unloaded it and took the fill out, it regained its shape – enough so that we can give them the green light to go ahead. They are using a lightweight fill instead of the heavier soil fill that had been used previously. Their engineers and consultants say this will remedy the problem. We will be keeping a close eye on it to make sure that it does remedy the problem and are hopeful they can go ahead full-speed.”
Traffic over the bridge – which carries 14,000 vehicles a day – is being shifted onto the temporary bridge between the on-ramp from Division Street to Route 95 North and the off-ramp from Route 4 South to Division Street. The speed limit has been lowered to 20 miles per hour through that area.
The temporary bridge features two through lanes for westbound traffic. For eastbound traffic, the right lane will be designated for through traffic while the left lane will be used for motorists wishing to use the on-ramp to 95 North.
The cost of the project remains $22.9 million, with any of the cost overruns relating to the temporary bridge borne by the contractor, Cardi Construction, according to RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin.
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