By DANIEL KITTREDGE Traveling east or west along Park Avenue on the eastern side of the city? Expect more detours and delays - likely through early next year. The anticipated reopening of the Park Avenue railroad bridge, which carries the road over rail
Traveling east or west along Park Avenue on the eastern side of the city? Expect more detours and delays – likely through early next year.
The anticipated reopening of the Park Avenue railroad bridge, which carries the road over rail tracks between Elmwood and Wellington avenues, had been expected to reopen this month after a four-month closure.
The 115-year-old bridge, which has been designated as structurally deficient for years and required emergency closure for repairs in 2015, is being fully replaced at a projected cost of $11.7 million.
But in an email Tuesday, Charles St. Martin, spokesman for the Department of Transportation, confirmed that the agency’s difficulty in securing a sufficient number of hours from specialized Amtrak personnel has pushed back the reopening date for the bridge.
“RIDOT has been working closely with Amtrak to complete this project,” he wrote. “Amtrak provides highly trained personnel during construction and, at times, they have not had as many hours available as previously. For safety reasons, RIDOT cannot work without the supervision of these people. This, coupled with utility work delays, has pushed back the opening date. Both RIDOT and Amtrak are working in tandem to resolve any delays … RIDOT will work diligently to finish the bridge as soon as possible.”
St. Martin indicated no firm reopening date has been set. But Peter Alviti, RIDOT’s director, told the Providence Journal last week that it is unlikely the bridge will reopen before spring 2022 “unless, miraculously, Amtrak personnel begin flocking back into their jobs.”
“[Amtrak] is feeling a pinch in the number of people they have available,” Alviti told the Journal. “They’ve been affording us as much time as they possibly can, but it’s not as much as we expected pre-pandemic.”
St. Martin said RIDOT’s community liaison office “has been in regular communication with all the adjacent businesses as well as with the mayor’s office, local officials, and the school department. This bridge is included in our weekly project updates and has a project page on our web site that is updated.”
During the extended closure, he said, RIPTA will continue to provide a free shuttle along the detour route, which runs up Wellington Avenue to Elmwood Avenue. He also said RIDOT is funding an additional bus for Park View Middle School to ease detour-related delays. The bus carries about 25 students on both its morning and afternoon runs.
St. Martin said the project remains on budget. He also said the new bridge structure, which is being built through an expedited process that utilized pre-constructed components, remains in progress.
The Park Avenue railroad bridge, which was built in 1906 and carries an estimated 15,000 vehicles a day, drew statewide attention in the summer of 2015 when it was temporarily closed for emergency repairs.
At that time, an inspection found “significant deterioration” in the wooden deck of the bridge, which had been last rehabilitated in 1991. The emergency closure also came during legislative debate over former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposed RhodeWorks program, which was signed into law months later.
The project is RIDOT’s latest in recent years involving bridges that carry Park Avenue over natural and man-made featured through the eastern and central part of the city.
In 2016, the agency performed repairs on the portion of Park Avenue that crosses Interstate 95. And last year, the bridge carrying the road over the Pocasset River near the Dyer Avenue intersection reopened after a months-long partial closure.
Updates on RIDOT’s schedule for the Park Avenue railroad bridge work can be found at ridot.net/traveladvisories/#WestBay.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here