The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) recently announced the start of a $42.6 million construction project to rehabilitate bridges that carry I-295 at its interchange with Routes 6 and 6A in Johnston (Exit 9). This work will require temporary traffic pattern changes including ramp and lane closures that will create traffic congestion and travel delays.
The first set of traffic pattern changes go into effect the weekend of November 16 and will be in place until Summer 2019, after which additional changes will be needed. The greatest delay will affect travelers from Route 6 West to I-295 North.
Construction will be done in phases to minimize the impact to travelers. The work will involve the closure of service roads on both sides of the highway, which will add more volume to mainline travel lanes. This shift is necessary to move traffic away from sections of the bridges to be repaired first.
The bridges to be reconstructed include four large structures about 80 feet wide and 150 to 240 feet long. They carry an average of 76,000 vehicles per day on both through lanes and service roads at this interchange.
Details of the closures will be posted on RIDOT's website, www.ridot.net/295Bridges, and include:
• Closure of the northbound service road. Access will be maintained for ramps to Route 6 East to Providence (Exit 9A) and Route 6 West toward Hartford, Conn. (Exit 9C).
• Closure of Exit 9B, which allows traffic to reverse direction to I-295 South.
• These changes will create minor delays during peak periods. Exit 9B is seldom used and any travelers using it can follow a detour utilizing Exit 9C to an on-ramp to I-295 South.
• Closure of the southbound service road. Access will be maintained for ramps to Route 6 West toward Hartford, Conn. (Exit 9C) and Route 6 East to Providence (Exit 9A).
• I-295 South already sees heavy traffic during the afternoon rush hour, which causes an average of 10 minutes of additional travel time. RIDOT estimates that delay to increase by a minimum of 3 minutes during peak periods.
Route 6 West
• The ramp from Route 6 West to I-295 North will be reduced from two lanes to one. Traffic will have to merge again with mainline I-295 traffic given the closure of the service road.
• This change will create the greatest amount of travel time delay, adding a minimum of 10 minutes during afternoon rush hour.
Route 6 East
• For travelers using the ramp from Route 6 East to I-295 South, minor delays can be expected given the closure of the I-295 South service road.
Hartford Avenue (Route 6A)
• The on-ramp from Hartford Avenue West to I-295 South will be closed. Modifications will be made to Hartford Avenue to allow left turns onto the ramp to I-295 South used by Hartford Avenue East traffic. In addition to planning more time for travel, RIDOT recommends motorists consider alternate routes, or plan travel through this area before or after rush hour. The use of transit is encouraged. See www.ripta.com for more information.
These bridges are nearly 50 years old, and the superstructures are nearing the end of their service lives. According to RIDO, without this this work now they would continue to deteriorate to the point where a full bridge replacement would be needed, costing up to 30 percent more with longer and more disruptive traffic impacts.
Also as part of this project, RIDOT will decommission two bridges built to accommodate an expansion of the interchange that was never built. RIDOT will fill in under the bridge structures, which will avoid the need to fund maintenance for those bridges.
The I-295 Bridges Contract 2 project was is part of RhodeWorks, RIDOT's ongoing projects to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island's transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair. More information may be found at www.ridot.net/RhodeWorks.