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In fall of 2019, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) closed the two aging wooden trestle bridges that cross the Barrington and Palmer Rivers because of severe deterioration which made them unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. Known as the East Bay Bike Path Bridges, they were built in the 1880s as railroad bridges and were converted to bike paths in the 1980s.
In 2014, RIDOT commissioned a design study as a precursor to replacing the two bridges and in 2016 allocated $10 million in its ten-year-plan for this project. The 2019 closure prompted a second evaluation of the bridges which found that the deterioration of both bridges was far worse than originally believed and that the cost of moving utilities was high. The cost to rebuild grew to about $20 million.
RIDOT is moving to create a plan that will contain the cost and provide a permanent, safe bike path. As this new plan develops, RIDOT put forward a plan that provided a safe, continuous path for cyclists that could be installed quickly and cost about $2 million. RIDOT suggested this as an interim solution as the department works toward a permanent solution. The town officials of both Warren and Barrington concurred with this plan and construction began in June 2021.
RIDOT is moving quickly to expedite a permanent, safe route across the two rivers that will be consistent with available funds.
Temporary Bike Path
Today we opened the boardwalk sections of the bridges over the Barrington and Palmer rivers. These eight-foot-wide bikeway segments connect to other sections of the temporary path and create an entirely off-road bikeway around the closed bridges. Flaggers/police details will remain through the next week until school is out for the Christmas break, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to assist those using crosswalks along the route.
RIDOT is in the review process of the conceptual design phase for this project, with a goal of having a decision this summer.