The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is announcing upcoming traffic pattern changes on I-95 South at Exit 21 (Atwells Avenue) as part of the ongoing Providence Viaduct Replacement Project. This work will transition all travel lanes on I-95 South to the new bridge, which is being built immediately adjacent to the old bridge, over the next three months.
The Department will be utilizing pavement striping, traffic signs, and later concrete barriers, to implement the change over the course of three phases. The approximate schedule of these changes include:
- Phase 1: Scheduled to be in place tomorrow, Tuesday, October 18, there will be two lanes on the old bridge and two lanes on the new bridge. Traffic will be split with two lanes to the left and two to the right. Traffic taking Exit 21 will need to use the far right lane (which is an exit-only lane for Atwells Avenue).
- Phase 2: Approximately one week later, in late October, there will be one lane on the old bridge and three lanes on the new bridge. Traffic will be split with one lane to the left and three to the right. Again, traffic taking Exit 21 will need to use the far right lane (which is an exit-only lane for Atwells Avenue).
- Phase 3: In early November there will be no traffic splits, with all lanes on the new bridge – three through lanes and one exit-only lane designated for Exit 21.
RIDOT will be closing the right lane on I-95 South at Exit 23 (Charles Street) and the left lane on Route 146 South near the I-95 merge tonight at 9 p.m. as preparation for installing the new traffic pattern. At 10 p.m., RIDOT will close the middle lane on I-95 South at Exit 23, and Exit 21 will temporarily close (motorists can use Exit 22 to detour). Motorists can expect delays late tonight on both I-95 South and Route 146 South. All lanes and exits are scheduled to reopen by 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Once implemented, the lane shifts will be gradual and almost imperceptible to drivers. However RIDOT encourages all motorists to reduce their speed and drive safely through all work zones. All schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change.
The Providence Viaduct is an eight-lane highway consisting of two bridge structures that carry I-95 through the capital city. Built for an average of 57,500 vehicles a day, the Viaduct currently carries 220,000 daily vehicle crossings – making it one of the most heavily traveled stretches of interstate on the East Coast. In addition, it is a key access point for several downtown businesses and attractions.
The bridge has significant deterioration to its deck and steel supporting beams, and is inspected regularly to monitor its condition. Work on the southbound bridge began in 2013, with final project completion forecast for May 2017.
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