Governor McKee Announces Plans For Third Travel Lane for I-195 Approaching The Washington Bridge

In a bid to alleviate congestion and reduce travel times resulting from the westbound closure of the Washington Bridge, Governor Dan McKee announced today that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will implement changes to temporary traffic patterns in East Providence and Providence. This initiative aims to provide a welcome relief to commuters by opening up three lanes of travel in both directions of I-195.

“Rhode Island is dedicated to addressing concerns at the Washington Bridge and offering relief to drivers and travelers,” stated Governor Dan McKee. Expressing gratitude, he acknowledged the collaborative efforts of Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Almond, Director Peter Alviti, Rhode Island DOT, and partners at the Federal Highway Administration for their role in making this adjustment possible.

RIDOT, in collaboration with traffic and structural engineering consultants, along with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) traffic experts, has certified the structural adequacy of the eastbound bridge to accommodate the additional lane. This strategic move involves maximizing the entire paved width of I-195 East with narrowed lanes, resulting in a 50% increase in motor vehicle capacity and a safer, more efficient configuration than the current setup.

Commencing on Monday, February 26, the project will kick off with the design and procurement of materials, followed by construction to relocate the start of the bypass lanes in East Providence approximately 3,000 feet west of their current location. The entire process to implement the three-lane configuration and open it to traffic is anticipated to take around eight weeks, with the schedule subject to adjustments due to supply chain issues, adverse weather conditions, and temperature variations. RIDOT assures continuous reporting on the progress of the project.

The anticipated impact of this change is a reduction in travel times on I-195 in both the eastbound and westbound directions, aiming to alleviate traffic on local streets in East Providence that have experienced increased congestion from motorists seeking alternative routes.

As part of the three-lane configuration, lanes in both directions will be narrowed from 12 feet to 10 feet. Trucks will be limited to the far-right lane in each direction, which will be 11 feet wide. Appropriate signage will be installed to mandate truck usage of the far-right lane exclusively. Additionally, the speed limit on I-195 through the bypass lanes in both directions will be lowered to 40 mph.

Motorists entering the highway from South Water Street and India Street eastbound will be required to yield, potentially causing delays during rush hour. However, RIDOT emphasizes the overall benefit of the three-lane configuration.

Upon the implementation of the three-lane setup, RIDOT will remove the lane reduction on I-195 West, just east of the East Shore Expressway near the state line, which was initially installed in early February. This adjustment will no longer be necessary with the introduction of the three-lane configuration.




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