RIDOT is beginning a project to transform the old bikeway across the Washington Bridge between Providence and East Providence into a first-class bikeway and linear park. Due to construction, RIDOT must close the existing bikeway on Monday, July 9, 2012.
The bridge, which carries a portion of the East Bay Bike Path, will be closed for approximately two years.
Recreational bike riders heading south on the East Bay Bike Path are encouraged to start their rides at one of the path's many parking areas.
Like the reconstruction of the India Point Park Pedestrian Bridge as part of the Iway project in 2008, this project will replace a sub-standard bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.
Through a $21.2 million contract, RIDOT will rebuild the remaining section of the original Washington Bridge that carries the existing, narrow bikeway and a section of the original highway bridge. In the same footprint will be a much wider bikeway and linear park. It will feature a separate bikeway and walking path, scenic overlooks, park benches, flag poles, decorative lighting and landscaped planters.
The project also calls for restoration of the historic, multi-arch granite façade of the Washington Bridge and two operator’s houses from which an original drawbridge was controlled at this location.
When opened, the new linear park will be named the George Redman Linear Park after the late East Providence resident who was instrumental in making the East Bay Bike Path a reality 25 years ago, and who advocated for bike path development across the state.
During the closure, experienced cyclists who often commute to work by bike may use the Henderson Bridge to cross the Seekonk River. RIDOT, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council and the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen have partnered to establish a signed detour route from the East Bay Bike Path where it meets Warren Avenue to the Henderson Bridge. The detour makes use of the new extension of Waterfont Drive in East Providence, which was still under construction when the bikeway on the Washington Bridge was closed in 2012.
Cyclists also may make use of RIPTA’s Rack ‘n Ride service, which is available on all regular buses. For no additional charge beyond the normal fare, cyclists can load their bikes on racks mounted on the front of all RIPTA buses. RIPTA’s 33, 34 and 60 bus routes utilize I-195 and the Washington Bridge while Buses 32, 35 and 78 provide service over the Henderson Bridge.