RIDOT Employing Accelerated Bridge Construction Techniques for Rapid Replacement of Key East Bay Bridges
Governor Gina M. Raimondo joined with Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) officials today to tour RIDOT’s accelerated bridge reconstruction project for the East Shore Expressway and McCormick Quarry bridges in East Providence, two examples of the many deficient bridges which RIDOT is going to fix as it moves forward with its RhodeWorks program.
The bridges serve as a vital link in Rhode Island’s highway system, providing direct access for the East Shore Expressway (one bridge for each direction of travel) over Warren Avenue and connecting all of Rhode Island’s East Bay communities (East Providence, Barrington, Warren and Bristol) with I-195. Both bridges have structural deficiencies that cannot be addressed without a complete replacement. Already, area businesses and residents have been disrupted by a 17-ton weight limit for the bridge carrying off-ramp traffic from I-195 East onto Route 114 South. The weight limit has been in effect for more than four years, requiring trucks to detour onto East Providence city streets.
“When we took action to rebuild Rhode Island’s crumbling roads and bridges, we also committed to rebuilding RIDOT to be ready to manage these projects and deliver results on time and on budget,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Today’s project update was a good opportunity to see firsthand the new methods RIDOT is putting in place to innovate in the department, move more quickly, and get the job done. We’re going to keep fixing bridges like this that are so important to the communities they serve, and we’re going to keep putting Rhode Islanders back to work in the process.”
RIDOT will reconstruct the bridges by using precast foundation elements and by constructing the new bridge decks on large supports adjacent to the current bridges. When the new bridge decks are finished this fall, RIDOT will temporarily close the first structure (East Shore Expressway Bridge) and the road underneath and in one 80-hour extended weekend closure, will remove the old bridge and install the new one. The process will be repeated in approximately two weeks for the second structure, the McCormick Quarry Bridge.
Using accelerated bridge construction methods, RIDOT will dramatically shorten the overall construction timeframe, completing the bridge one year earlier than would be possible using conventional construction methods. Additionally, if RIDOT had not taken this approach, the travelling public would have been impacted over the course of a year with each ramp only opened at half capacity.
“Rhode Island has the worst bridges in the country, and with a great sense of urgency we are exploring all options, including innovative accelerated bridge construction methods like we’re using on this project,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. “With careful and diligent oversight through our new project management approach, we are committed to delivering the project on time, on budget and with the highest quality.”
These two bridges, originally built back in 1959, are being replaced through a $16.7 million project with a $663,000 budget contingency. The East Shore Expressway Bridge, which carries traffic from I-195 East to Route 114 South, carries 20,600 vehicles per day. The McCormick Quarry Bridge services 17,000 vehicles per day making the return trip from Route 114 North to I-195 West.
The East Shore Expressway Bridge is classified as functionally obsolete, with significant concrete cracking that limits its ability to service large vehicles, resulting in the bridge’s 17-ton weight limit. The supports on the McCormick Quarry Bridge are severely deteriorated, and are supplemented with large wooden timbers to carry the bridge’s structural load.
Pre-construction activities to relocate utilities and minor drainage work began last fall, with full construction resuming last month. Ongoing operations include excavation of the soil behind the bridge’s current supporting columns to make room for the construction of foundations for the new bridges. RIDOT also is making use of geosynthetic reinforced soil walls for the bridge’s abutments, which utilize layers of crushed stone and reinforcing fabric to quickly assemble the these foundation elements.
In the coming weeks, motorists will see construction begin on the supporting structures for the new bridge decks, followed shortly by the delivery of large steel beams for the decks. Work will progress through the summer in completing the decks to the point where they can be installed using self-propelled modular transporters – multi-wheel dollies capable of lifting the bridge decks off their temporary supports, driving them toward the bridge’s foundations and setting them into place. Once installed, RIDOT will pave the bridge and approaches and open the road to traffic.
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