To further reduce congestion and travel times caused by the Washington Bridge westbound closure, Governor Dan McKee today announced that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will adjust the temporary traffic patterns in East Providence and Providence to provide three lanes of travel in both directions of I-195.
"Rhode Island remains committed to addressing concerns at the Washington Bridge and providing relief to drivers and travelers," said Governor Dan McKee. "I'd like to thank my Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Almond, Director Peter Alviti, Rhode Island DOT, and our partners at the Federal Highway Administration for working to open this third lane, which will cut back on travel delays and reduce congestion around the bridge."
RIDOT, along with traffic engineering and structural engineering consultants and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) traffic experts, have certified that the eastbound bridge structure is sufficient to carry the extra lane. The maximization of the entire paved width of I-195 East with narrowed lanes will increase motor vehicle capacity by 50% and will be safer and more efficient than the existing configuration.
Work will begin on Monday, February 26 with design and ordering materials, followed by construction to move the start of the bypass lanes in East Providence about 3,000 feet west of its current location. The entire process to implement the three-lane configuration and open it to traffic will take approximately eight weeks. The schedule is subject to changes brought about by supply chain issues, adverse weather, and temperature. RIDOT will continuously report on its progress.
RIDOT expects this change will reduce travel times on I-195, in both the eastbound and westbound direction, which will help alleviate traffic on local streets in East Providence that have been busier because of motorists seeking alternate routes.
With the implementation of the three-lane configuration in both directions, lanes will be narrowed from 12 feet to 10 feet. Trucks will be restricted to the far-right lane in each direction, which will be 11 feet wide, and RIDOT will post signage that trucks must use the far-right lane only.
The speed limit on I-195 through the bypass lanes in both directions will be reduced to 40 mph.
Because of the three-lane configuration eastbound, traffic entering the highway from South Water Street and India Street will need to yield when entering the highway. This may cause delays for motorists using this ramp to enter onto I-195 East during rush hour.
Once the three-lane configuration is put into place, RIDOT will remove the lane reduction on I-195 West just east of the East Shore Expressway near the state line, which was installed in early February. This will no longer be needed with the three-lane configuration.
View Press Release
February 16, 2024 Update
In the past week, we did underwater inspections of the bridge piers and continue to undertake structural inspection for other bridge components. We’re also doing formwork and concrete placement for wall reconstruction at Piers 6 and 7.
Our travel time charts continue to be utilized on a regular basis and we are working to develop additional methods to reduce these travel times for motorists. The charts are a historical record of the prior week travel times. On the same page we have an interactive map for real-time travel times for various routes.
February 9, 2024 Update
To support Rhode Islanders traveling through the East Bay, RIDOT created additional Washington Bridge travel time tools on its website, which now has an easy-to-remember URL: www.washington-bridge.com
These charts show the change in travel times on different days and hours of the day on nine different routes compared to the travel times motorists were accustomed to before the bridge closed. There is also specific data on actual travel times observed as well as the actual travel times for the week prior to the bridge closure. The Administration will be sharing these new tools with businesses, organizations and other stakeholders impacted by the bridge closure.
To develop these travel charts, RIDOT uses the same data that is shared among all popular navigation and GPS services, such as Google, Waze, Apple Maps, etc. This is called probe data, a measurement that tracks vehicles based on signals transmitted by cell phones. The data provides information on the speed of the vehicles carrying those cell phones on specific segments. All speed data is computed into travel time based on the length of all segments in each route. These charts will be updated every weekday.
February 6, 2024 Update
RIDOT is closely monitoring the effects of the traffic change put into place Friday night to alleviate congestion and expedite travel for those entering I-195 West from the East Shore Expressway, Pawtucket Avenue and Broadway. Initial data are showing the traffic pattern change instituted Friday night may be having a positive effect on the neighborhoods adjacent to the on-ramps. RIDOT will maintain the traffic pattern for at least another day to collect more data.
RIDOT will continue meeting weekly with legislators from the East Bay area to provide them with information for their constituents. Late last week we restriped the westbound crossover to make travel lanes more visible and added more signage in East Providence and Providence to help travelers negotiate I-195.
February 2, 2024 Update
Over the next several months, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will be testing new traffic patterns with the goal of alleviating some of the congestion leading up to and on the Washington Bridge. These new patterns will be based on traffic modeling by RIDOT engineers.
Starting at 10 p.m. on Friday night, February 2, the department will begin reducing the number of lanes on I-195 West, from three lanes to two lanes, starting east of the East Shore Expressway entrance to I-195 West. This will expedite travel for those entering I-195 West from the East Shore Expressway, Pawtucket Avenue and Broadway. The department has modeled this traffic pattern and the model appears to show that creating a merge east of the East Shore Expressway should reduce travel time. This pattern will allow those using the East Shore Expressway, Pawtucket Avenue and Broadway ramps to merge more easily.
As is done with other traffic pattern shifts, RIDOT will test the new pattern on Friday night, monitor its impact closely throughout the weekend and the beginning of the work week (Monday and Tuesday). At the end of the test, RIDOT engineers will decide whether to keep the pattern in place or reverse it based on its effectiveness. RIDOT will use barrels to mark the new pattern to allow for any necessary changes or reversal to be made swiftly.
January 24, 2024 Update
This week, RIDOT traffic engineers revised the traffic signal timings at the I-195 East on-ramp from India Street in Providence. This change has lessened the congestion of vehicles on South Water heading toward the I-195 East on-ramp.
As a reminder, RIDOT has a travel time dashboard on its website with current travel times for I-195 and many other travel routes being used by motorists during the Washington Bridge westbound closure. The data is updated every five minutes, and the dashboard records travel times by hour and day, so you can plan ahead, giving yourself enough time for your trip or traveling when average commuting times are shorter.
January 22, 2024 Update
RIDOT continues to expedite the inspections and analysis of the bridge. This analysis is complex and it takes time. The Department, working in conjunction with several engineering consultants, is working 24/7 to assess the condition of the full bridge and develop an analysis that is comprehensive and will result in a bridge that will be safe.
The findings of this evaluation will determine the scope of the work that needs to be done, as well as the schedule and cost. Until that is done, RIDOT does not have an estimate on the time to reopen the bridge.
The analysis could come to a number of conclusions, including repair of the existing structure, or a more extensive reconstruction. A decision will not be made until the analysis is complete. Whichever course of action the Department will take, accelerated bridge construction methods will be used to repair the bridge as quickly as possible.
Regardless of the scope of work, RIDOT is strategizing various construction scenarios to determine how we can phase the work to open new lanes and maximize the flow of traffic as soon as possible. The Department also is developing contingencies for funding to be redirected to this project to assure that it has priority.
January 19, 2024 Update
Work continues on enhancing the pier walls that support the anchor rods and the evaluation of the bridge’s condition overall. Additionally, today (January 19) is the last day of service on the Bristol to Providence Ferry.
Today our traffic engineers updated the traffic signal times at Point Street and Eddy Street and Point Street and Richmond Street. They are now running in coordination, which should help ease congestion on these streets during rush hour.
January 9, 2024 Update
RIDOT this week is continuing installation of the steel components for the bridge repair. We are also installing formwork and rebar for the first concrete repair components for the pier walls. The first concrete placements for this work are scheduled to take place later this week. We also will be restriping a portion of Warren Avenue in East Providence to assist the city with better moving congested traffic. It will be installed as soon as possible, weather-dependent.
RIDOT has announced the last date of service on the Bristol to Providence ferries, which is January 19. Ridership data shows it is the appropriate time to wind down the temporary service. Learn more here.
January 8, 2024 Update
East Providence Mayor DaSilva announces a portion of Warren Avenue will be restriped to assist the city with better moving congested traffic. It will be installed as soon as possible, weather-dependent.
January 3, 2024 Update
DOA announces the hiring of a process of hiring the specialty engineering firm of McNary Bergeron & Johannesen to conduct a peer engineering review of the investigation into the failure of the tie-down rods on the Washington Bridge, which is being performed by the firm WJE.
January 2, 2024 Update
The first steel components for the bridge repair project were installed this past weekend. RIDOT also is building access platforms that will allow crews to perform concrete wall repairs.
RIDOT also has created a dedicated webpage to provide the public up-to-date and accurate information about the condition of all 1,200 bridges throughout the state. The interactive dashboard allows users to click on bridges near them to learn more information about their condition, whether they are posted for weight, and when they were last inspected.
Since its inception on December 21, ridership on the Bristol to Providence ferries has reached 2,814 (through December 31).
December 27, 2023 Update
We have cut holes in the top of the bridge to allow access for the repair materials to be lowered down to the installation locations. The contractor is also constructing access platforms below the bridge deck so that crews can work at the elevation needed to perform the repairs.
Steel components begin to be delivered this week, both plates and anchor rods, for the bridge repair.
We will continue ferry service for the week.
December 25, 2023 Update
Steel components begin to be delivered this week, both plates and anchor rods, for the bridge repair. Contractor also cuts holes in the top of the bridge to allow access for the repair materials to be lowered down to the installation locations.
Additionally, the contractor begins building access platforms below the bridge deck so that crews can work at the elevation needed to perform the repairs.
December 22, 2023 Update
Today is the second day of ferry service between Bristol and Providence. On its debut Thursday, 162 people took the ferry. The service continues seven days a week (with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s Day) with three ferry companies providing regular service approximately every half hour. A dedicated website with ferry and RIPTA bus schedules is available at: www.bristolprovidenceferry.com.
RIDOT implemented the ferries as part of a multi-modal solution to the Washington Bridge event. On a daily basis, we will monitor the volume of users in each of the multi-modes, including bikes, pedestrians, transit buses, ferries and highway vehicles and will make adjustments to each as the data guides us.
RIDOT yesterday launched an interactive travel time dashboard. It includes near-to-real-time travel times on common travel routes in the East Bay area to and from Providence and I-95. The information will be updated regularly, and includes hourly reported travel times. This affords commuters the information they need to plan their trips – either to give themselves more time to get to their destination or plan their travel when travel times are lower.
December 21, 2023 Update
Today RIDOT began ferry service from Bristol to Providence, with three ferry companies providing regular service approximately every half hour. A dedicated website with ferry and RIPTA bus schedules is available at: www.bristolprovidenceferry.com.
Today RIDOT also launched an interactive travel time dashboard. It includes near-to-real-time travel times on common travel routes in the East Bay area to and from Providence and I-95. The information will be updated regularly, and includes hourly reported travel times. This affords commuters the information they need to plan their trips – either to give themselves more time to get to their destination or plan their travel when travel times are lower.
Also today, RIDOT closed the lane on I-195 West that was used for emergency vehicles only. This was necessary to begin reconstruction work on that part of the road. Travelers using the bypass lanes will notice that emergency vehicles are now blended into regular traffic and should slow down and move over for ambulances, police cars and other emergency vehicles. RIDOT thanks you for your patience and consideration.
RIDOT closed emergency vehicle access lane on the old bridge. With improved travel times, vehicles can utilize the bypass. Additionally, construction begins on areas used for the access lane.
December 20, 2023 Update
In order to give travelers an alternate mode of transportation from the Bristol area into Providence, RIDOT will start ferry service on Thursday, December 21, 2023. The ferry will run from Bristol to the ferry dock on India Street. For schedule information and shuttle service from the parking area, please go to www.bristolprovidenceferry.com.
We made repairs to the concrete on the westbound side to prepare the surface for installation of the steel components that we will need to install. The steel components, both plates and anchor rods, are being fabricated this week and will be delivered next week. Because much of this work takes place under the bridge deck, travelers may not see large numbers of workers on the bridge, but they are at work.
December 18, 2023 Update
The bypass lanes RIDOT opened on Friday worked well over the weekend and traffic has been flowing smoothly. As expected, traffic volumes and delays were up this morning. RIDOT recommends that drivers continue to use detour routes that work best for them to minimize delay. With the heavy rainfall and wind storm today, including localized power outages, we ask motorists to drive with reduced speed and provide additional time for travel.
RIDOT announces the start of Bristol to Providence ferry service.
Read Full Release Here
The three ferry providers - SeaStreak, Rhode Island Fast Ferry, and Block Island Ferry will provide temporary ferry service between Bristol and Providence while the bridge is being repaired. Ferries will run at half hour intervals from the Maritime Center in Bristol to India Point Park in Providence, with shuttle bus service from Colt State Park to the ferry dock in Bristol and from India Point to Providence Station. All services will be free. RIDOT estimates it will operate the service until late March. Further information on the ferry will be posted here as it becomes available.
Fabrication begins of steel components, both plates and anchor rods, for the bridge repair.
December 15, 2023 Update
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has closed the west bound side of Washington Bridge due to finding a critical failure of some bridge components. In order to alleviate traffic congestion on other arteries, RIDOT opened two bypass lanes on the east bound side of the Washington Bridge as of early morning on December 15, 2023.
This temporary traffic pattern will allow two lanes of travel westbound and two lanes of travel eastbound – all operating on the eastbound Washington Bridge.
Read Full Release Here
RIDOT will reopen most ramps that had been closed. However, the Gano Street off-ramp (Exit 1D) will remain closed as will the on-ramps to I-195 West from Veterans Memorial Parkway and Taunton Avenue. RIDOT will continue to maintain passage on the westbound bridge for emergency vehicles only.
Governor McKee holds press conference to provide update on Washington Bridge response.
December 14, 2023 Update
Round the clock work on creating two lanes on the eastbound side of the bridge has had good results. We now plan to open the lanes to traffic by this weekend, December 16 at the latest. Travelers are urged to keep using the routes they have identified even though the lanes are open, at least for a week or so to avoid massive congestion of the two open lanes.
We will still have on ramps closed. The Gano Street off ramp will remain closed and the two ramps that feed Route 95 as well. These are the Veterans Memorial Parkway and the Taunton Avenue ramps.
As travelers access these lanes, we urge them to maintain a reasonable speed. The lanes are posted at 45 MPH.
Governor McKee holds press conference to provide update on Washington Bridge response.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) closed the west bound side of the Washington Bridge due to the finding of a critical failure of some bridge components. These particular components are part of the original Washington Bridge which was built in 1968. They were uncovered during the reconstruction of the Washington Bridge.
The failing components called anchor rods were identified by RIDOT consultants during an inspection of the ongoing work but in an area that was not part of the reconstruction project. The consultant’s report can be viewed here. RIDOT’s plan to restore the westbound side to full function is documented in the press release below. Please see maps following the press release for full detour details and instructions.