Washington Bridge Getting Additional Travel Lanes Amid Closure Of Westbound Side


EAST PROVIDENCE, RI — In an effort to reduce traffic congestion and travel times caused by the closure of the Washington Bridge’s westbound side, 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 on I-195.

“Rhode Island remains committed to addressing concerns at the Washington Bridge and providing relief to drivers and travelers,” Gov. Dan McKee said. “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 officials, engineering consultants and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) certified the bridge’s eastbound side can handle the load of carrying the extra lane. McKee said the added lanes will increase motor vehicle capacity by 50 percent and will be safer and more efficient than the current configuration.

State officials said work will begin Monday 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 about two months, according to state officials.

RIDOT officials said the 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 eastbound during rush hour.

Once the three-lane configuration is put into place, RIDOT officials said they will remove the lane reduction on I-195 westbound 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, according to state officials.

See a video rendering of the plan for new lanes on the Washington Bridge below:

Read more on the Washington Bridge situation

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