Westbound lanes on the eastbound Washington Bridge will open this weekend, according to state officials

The recent closure of the westbound side of the Washington Bridge in Rhode Island has caused significant disruptions and necessitates a deeper look into the implications and responses to this event. This closure, as announced by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), is due to the discovery of a critical failure in some of the bridge’s components, parts of the original span built in 1968. This discovery was made during ongoing reconstruction efforts on the bridge.

The closure’s immediate effect was the complete shutdown of all westbound lanes, with traffic being diverted to alternative routes. RIDOT plans to redirect traffic to two lanes on the eastbound side within two to three weeks, allowing for the commencement of permanent repairs on the westbound side. This phase of the repair process will lead to the closure of two lanes on I-195 East near Exit 1A (India Street).

RIDOT Director Peter Alviti highlighted the seriousness of the situation, stating that urgent safety issues discovered during the reconstruction could cause a critical deficiency on the bridge’s westbound side. As a result, this side of the bridge will remain closed until it can be made completely safe.

The extent of the repair work and the duration it will take depend on the severity of the damage found in the initial stages of the work. The repairs could potentially take three months or longer. In light of this, RIDOT has informed emergency vehicle operators and officials in adjacent cities and towns about the situation.

To mitigate the impact of the closure, specific detour routes have been suggested for different traffic groups:

  • Local traffic in East Providence is advised to take Exit 2 to Broadway, follow detour signs to the Henderson Bridge, and then rejoin I-195 West at Gano Street.
  • For traffic from Southeast Massachusetts west of Fall River, the recommended route is Massachusetts Exit 1, following Route 114A onto either Route 114 (Pawtucket Avenue) or Route 1A (Newport Avenue) to I-95. This route is preferred for trucks.
  • Traffic from Southeast Massachusetts east of Fall River, including from Cape Cod and the New Bedford Area, should take Massachusetts Exit 14B to Route 24 North, then to I-495 North to I-95.

The closure of the Washington Bridge’s westbound side presents significant challenges for commuters and transport authorities alike. The necessity for extensive repairs underscores the importance of continuous infrastructure maintenance and the need for timely interventions to ensure public safety.

The detour routes provided aim to alleviate some of the traffic congestion resulting from the closure, but the situation highlights the broader issue of aging infrastructure and the need for ongoing investment in transportation systems

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