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RIDOT has started work on a $24 million design-build project to replace the East Bay Bike Path bridges over the Barrington and Palmer Rivers. The bridges, which date back to the 1880s, have been closed since 2019 because they were badly deteriorated and it was not safe to keep them open.
The design-build team of Aetna Bridge and VHB will first seek the necessary environmental permits before starting demolition of the old structures. The commencement of work in the field is contingent on the permit process but could begin in spring 2023.
The design-build team will use prefabricated modular truss Acrow bridges that are quicker to install and have less impact on the environment as this lightweight design requires smaller foundational elements and piers. They also are easier structures to maintain, with a very long design life.
RIDOT also will be working with the design-build team to minimize shoreline impacts during construction and the use of retaining walls and piers in the final design, further supporting an environmentally sensitive design. The low profile of the bridge design and its installation method also minimizes the impact and high cost of relocating nearby utility lines.
Each new bridge will be approximately 300 feet long and 14 feet wide. More details on the bridge design will be available next spring once the design and permitting phase is complete.
Final completion is expected by the end of 2025. Riders will continue to use temporary bike path segments RIDOT built to provide a safe continuous bike path until the new bridges are open.
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 more than $20 million.
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 moved to create a plan to contain the cost and provide a permanent, safe bike path. While this was underway, RIDOT put forward a plan that provided a safe, continuous path for cyclists that could be installed quickly and cost about $2 million. The town officials of both Warren and Barrington concurred with this plan and construction began in June 2021 and the temporary path sections opened by the end of 2021. See video below for more.
Thanks to additional sources of federal funding of $14 million from Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, RIDOT had the funds to proceed with the project and replace both bridges – meeting the wishes of the East Bay community to replace both structures.