EAST PROVIDENCE â€” A state project to replace the Ten Mile River Bridges at the intersection of Broadway, Roger Williams Avenue, and Centre Street is under way, but members of the City Council say they want to see the $2.8 million project finished well ahead of the state's estimated completion date of November 2013.
In his report to the council Wednesday, City Manager Peter Graczykowski said he received official notification from state Department of Transportation Resident Engineer Tony Mawad that the state construction project to replace the bridges, which has been closed since Dec. 29, has begun.
The bridges carry North Broadway over the Ten Mile River and over a nearby small stream in East Providence. The weight limit on the bridges was posted at 3 tons in July of last year, but the results of an inspection last fall revealed deterioration significant enough to prompt the state to close the spans.
The bridge project will include demolishing the entire bridge superstructure and portions of the existing bridge abutments located on North Broadway. The new superstructure will replace the old one, according to Mowad.
In addition to the bridge work, the project also will include reconstruction of the roadway from Dewey Avenue to the south of the bridge approaches. The road work portion of the project will include pavement, curbing, sidewalks, wheelchair ramps, new signage and pavement markings, and new water lines.
Mowad said the state anticipates the project to be done by Nov. 25, 2013 and that the spans will be closed for the duration of the project with the existing detour remaining in place.
"We expect the bridges to stay closed until that date," Mowad said in his letter to the city.
Concerned about the length of the project and the impact it will have on the neighborhood residents, the council unanimously voted Wednesday night to adopt a resolution crafted by Councilman William J. Conley Jr., which asks the state to expedite the project by establishing a shorter construction schedule.
"The Nov. 25, 2013 date is just not an acceptable time period," said Conley. "What this resolution does is cite the difficulties being experienced by the city and its residents as well as some of things the city can do to help the state expedite the project. This resolution represents the collective will of the City of East Providence."
The council's resolution specifically cites the many problems the various detour routes have caused since the spans were closed in December.
According to city officials, these detour routes have resulted in significantly increased traffic and public safety issues on Centre Street, Wilson Avenue, Roger Williams Avenue, North Broadway and Pawtucket Avenue.
"It is manifestly unfair for the neighborhoods being adversely impacted by the detour to accept this intolerable situation for that period of time," the resolution states.
Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, DOT Director Michael P. Lewis and members of the city's legislative delegation, including Senators Daniel DaPonte and Frank A. DeVall, Jr. and Representatives Christopher R. Blazejewski, Roberto DaSilva, Joy Hearn, Helio Melo, Mary Duffy Messier, and John A. Savage.
Mayor Bruce Rogers informed the council that DPW Director Stephen H. Coutu
has also requested a shorter construction schedule in a letter his office sent to the Department of Transportation last week.
On Wednesday night, Councilwoman Katie J. Kleyla updated the council on a neighborhood meeting held Feb. 8 to discuss the traffic problems that have resulted from the closing of the bridges. The meeting was attended by city and state officials, including local police and representatives of the DOT, as well as several neighborhood residents.
As a result of that meeting, a uniformed police officer has since been posted at the intersection of Roger Williams and Bourne Avenue to help direct congested traffic during peak hours.
"The meeting was quite successful and I'm sure the people who live in Rumford have noticed the presence of the police officer," Kleyla said. "It was a good opportunity for the DOT to hear our concerns and to hear first hand how this has impacted our neighborhoods."
In a related matter, the council Wednesday agreed to defer a decision on Coutu's proposal to reduce the speed limit to 20 mph on streets impacted by the detours until the Police Department can determine whether or not the remedial measures that are already in place have been effective.