PAWTUCKET — More green space will be coming to the city later this year, as a piece of land on Division Street adjacent to the Mayor James E. Doyle Pawtucket River Bridge will soon be converted into a handicap-accessible municipal park.
As part of the Pawtucket River Bridge project in 2014, an $81 million span which restored full use of Interstate 95 by replacing a deficient bridge, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation designed and constructed a water quality basin on a portion of the parcel at 20 Division St. and as part of the construction, RIDOT agreed to design and construct the handicap-accessible Pawtucket River City Park.
The proposal from RIDOT for the park includes amenities such as a three-car parking area with handicap-accessible parking, a walking path, solar lighting, park benches, and associated landscaping.
Over the past few months, RIDOT has worked in collaboration with officials from Pawtucket’s Planning and Public Works departments in development of the scope of work for the park. RIDOT has dedicated approximately $200,000 toward the construction of the project and has completed all design and bidding documents on the park, anticipating going out to bid within the next few weeks, according to city officials.
RIDOT will be responsible for all design and construction costs and will also maintain responsibility for the water quality basin, while Pawtucket will assume responsibility for the park, sidewalks, lighting, and landscaping, city officials noted.
Construction on the city park is expected to begin this September and work should be completed by late October, officials noted. In anticipation of the construction’s commencement, RIDOT requested from the city the use of a municipal lot at 45 Division St. – across the street from the proposed park – to be used as a construction staging area.
“We are pleased that this long-awaited project is proceeding and that in partnership with RIDOT a new public amenity near the city’s riverfront will soon be in place,” Public Works Director Eric J. Earls said in a July 1 communication to members of the City Council.
Added Mayor Donald R. Grebien, “Another state/city project moves forward. This project has been many years in the making with input from our local artists, engineers, members of the Riverfront Commission and the community at large.
“The work on overlook park on Division Street will begin to transform this open space to include handicap accessibility, green space, and a public area to the James E. Doyle (Pawtucket River) Bridge project. The City thanks RIDOT for partnering with us on this project, in which they have completed the design and bidding documents.”
The public park near the intersection of Division Street and Portuguese Social Club Way – formerly Water Street – will include picturesque views of the bridge, which is notable at night when it is lit in a variety of colors, as well as a view of the Pawtucket River, which flows beneath the bridge.
The park will be situated directly next to the span that replaced the aging Pawtucket River Bridge, which dated back to 1958 and carried I-95 over Taft Street and the Pawtucket River. The rehabilitation project earlier this decade involved the construction of three separate structures: a bridge to carry I-95 northbound, a bridge to carry I-95 southbound, and a bridge that serves as an access road on which the on- and off-ramps to George Street and School Street would be located.
The iconic bridge was renamed the Mayor James E. Doyle Pawtucket River Bridge in 2016 prior to the former mayor’s death. A ceremony officially renaming the bridge was held in November 2016, three months after he passed.
Jonathan Bissonnette on Twitter @J_Bissonnette