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IN-PROGRESS: "Iway" 195 Relocation/Wash. Bridge

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Route 195 Relocation Project

Interstate 195 is a major east/west artery for southern New England. The highway runs from Providence through the southern Massachusetts cities of New Bedford and Fall River and on toward the Bourne Bridge to Cape Cod.

Like Boston's Central Artery, the elevated portion through downtown Providence was built before modern Interstate construction standards were put in place. The structure is showing it's age and needs to be replace. Also like Boston's Central Artery, Route 195 must remain open while it is replaced. The solution is to move the highway.


In this image you can see the new alignment of I-195 crossing the Providence River and meeting up with I-95. 195 currently goes through the sections shaded in orange. The highway essentially slices through the heart of Providence, slicing the Jewelry District off from the Downtown core. It also runs for a while along the riverfront seperating parts of the East Side from the river.

Everything seen in orange are development parcels that will be freed up once the highway is torn down. The large area of orange at the centre is slated to be an entire new neighbourhood to be known as Old Harbor. This area is currently the site of the downtown off-ramps.

The current structure features dangerous reverse curves, too many on/off ramps for it's length, and limited acceleration/decceleration lanes. It's connection to I-95 also features a dangerous left exit. The new allignment will provide a straighter route, less ramps, and a redesigned interchange with I-95.



In these two images you can see renderings of the new Providence River bridge which will be situated just outside the Hurricane Barrier. Work is currently underway on test pilings for the bridge as well as work on the earthen berms that will lead to the bridge. The bridges approaches will be on top of the Hurricane Barrier.

Video files of the project can be seen at the RIDOT Website.

Washington Bridge Linear Park


A seperate but related project taking place on Route 195 is the reconstruction of the Washington Bridge and a linear park on the bridge.

The Washington Bridge carries Route 195 between Providence and East Providence over the Seekonk River. It is a twin span structure, the origianl span predates the interstate highway. The second span was built to provide room to carry 195 over the river.

The older span is now in need of replacement and a new structure is being built between the two. Part of the old bridge will remain standing and become a linear park. This park will extend the East Bay Bike Path over the river and into the city of Providence.






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  • 8 months later...

The drive of the future: Rerouting 195

The first visible signs of progress in Providence's biggest road project have appeared, eight years before the project is expected to be complete.


Journal Staff Writer | August 10, 2004


Journal photo / John Freidah

The first visible signs of progress in the gigantic effort to reroute Route 195 have appeared, eight years before the project is expected to be complete.


Changing lanes

The map and aerial photo, taken a few days ago, show where Route 195 and its intersection with Route 95 are being relocated in Providence.

The photo shows the Providence River running north and south in the center, with the East Side on the right and the Jewelry District and Davol Square on the left. Route 95 runs up the left side of the photo, with the existing Route 195 coming in from the right, looping northwest across the river and then down to its intersection with Route 95.

On the river from north to south are the existing Route 195 bridge, the Point Street Bridge, the marina on the east side of the river and the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier.

The map shows how the new Providence River Bridge will cross the river just south of the Hurricane Barrier. On the east shore, above Fox Point and the docks, the new section of the highway will extend east from the bridge to meet the existing Route 195 above India Point Park, headed east towards the Washington Bridge and East Providence.

There's no sign of the bridge itself yet, but the photo shows as whitish lines a number of reinforced concrete retaining walls being built to support the embankment for the new section of Route 195 east of the river.

On the west bank, the ramps connecting the bridge to Route 95 will pass north of the big round tanks at the bottom center of the photo.

The Russian submarine on exhibit is barely visible docked at Collier Point, on the west bank of the river near the tanks at the bottom, center of the photo.

PROVIDENCE -- The skeleton of the new section of Route 195 is appearing aboveground on both sides of the Providence River, offering a rough outline of the Department of Transportation's massive construction project moving the highway and its intersection with Route 95 to the south.

On the river itself, there's no sign yet of the centerpiece of the project, a new bridge with a 400-foot-wide arch that will be built just south of the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier.

Even on land, a great deal of the work that has been done remains invisible, consisting of 100-foot-plus, steel-reinforced concrete piles driven down to bedrock to hold up bridge and highway structures.

But while it doesn't look much like a highway yet, an outline of the project is visible on both sides of the river, although it's easier to make out from some directions than others.

So far, said James R. Caroselli, the DOT's chief civil engineer, the project is moving along "very well." With an estimated cost of around $450 million, the project won't be finished until around 2012, when the new highway and bridge are built and the existing bridges and embankments removed.

Heading west into Providence from East Providence, Route 195 crosses the Washington Bridge over the Seekonk River into the city's East Side. Partway to the Providence River, it swings northwest, then crosses the river north of Point Street and the hurricane barrier, and curves southwest to meet Route 95.

The project will replace that half-loop with a relatively straight section of highway leading to the Providence River at Fox Point, just below the hurricane barrier, and the bridge that will cross the river, landing just below the power plant on the west bank.

The new intersection is designed to be easier to drive through and safer.

Without the bridge, it's harder to make out the overall shape of the project from many directions. The easiest way to see the project's future is to look at it from its ends.

From the west, looking from the northbound lanes of Route 95 below the existing Route 195 exit, a break in the gas tanks to the right, just past a big green tank, offers a clear view down the right-of-way toward the hurricane barrier and the Providence River.

There, the most obvious sign of the project's eventual location has been unchanged for months. That is an elongated, mostly flat-topped mound of fill, with some grass growing on top. That is where the ramps will fan out from the new bridge where it comes ashore just to the right, or the south, of the hurricane barrier.

That dirt pile headed toward Route 95 is about 40 feet high, Caroselli said, and was put there to "pre-load" -- squash, that is -- the silty peat underneath. That's so it won't settle later, when the highway ramps are built on top. The weight of fill, he said, has forced the ground down by about two feet.

On the east end of the project, in the Fox Point section, some of the vertical, concrete retaining walls are visible, along with piles of fill that stick up above the highway. They point the way to where the bridge will be built.

To see the project's outline from the east, a good vantage point is at the north end of the pedestrian bridge across Route 195 to India Point Park. That footbridge starts at George M. Cohan Boulevard, a local street that runs next to but above Route 195 near Tockwotten Home and Gregorian Elementary School.

From there, looking west across Route 195 toward the river and Rhode Island Hospital, Route 195's future path is marked by concrete retaining walls that will support the embankment under the new section of highway. The dirt piles will be used for fill, and the graffiti decorating the retaining walls will end up mostly underground, Caroselli said.

For a bulldozer's-eye view of the retaining walls at the east end of the project, drive south on Gano Street, the local street on the Providence bank of the Seekonk River, pass under 195, turn right on India Street and drive the length of India Point Park toward the river.

The first signs of the new bridge will appear shortly, Caroselli said, in the form of a temporary structure built to support equipment or hold up the permanent structure while it is being built.

Caroselli said the temporary work in the Providence River will be structures to support the machinery that will drill eight-foot-wide holes into the river bottom, down to and into the rock beneath for perhaps 20 feet.

A steel drill casing encloses the hole as it's drilled, and will be filled with steel reinforcement and concrete. Drivers passing through regularly will recall similar material -- enormous sections of pipe you could walk through, big green cylinders of reinforcing steel to go inside -- sitting on the Washington Bridge the winter before last, while construction crews there built the foundation for a new eastbound section of the bridge.

The only part of the project that is seriously behind schedule, Caroselli said, is the replacement of the Point Street overpass, which carries that local road across Route 95. Delayed by unexpected sub-soil conditions that forced some redesigning, that bridge is about a year behind schedule, he said.

A major target of the 195 relocation project is improved highway safety. The existing junction of 195 with 95 is relatively inhospitable to drivers, with entrance and exit ramps on the left and right, and relatively sharp curves.

One of the project's safety goals is to eliminate "weaves," where drivers who enter on one side of the highway must exit shortly afterward on the other side by shifting across lanes in a hurry.

For example, driving westbound on Route 195 from East Providence and heading for Rhode Island Hospital now involves entering Route 95 southbound on its left side, then crossing the whole highway to exit from the right lane.

The new intersection is supposed to eliminate that kind of situation, which is at best awkward and at worst traumatic, while also replacing the relatively tight turns of the ramps' curves with wider curves and better visibility.

For a look at how things are supposed to appear at the project's conclusion, the DOT has animated views of the drive through the new intersection from various directions on its Web site.

The designs show smooth curves that can be negotiated easily. For example, one animation depicts a trip through the intersection from the East Side to the new exit for Rhode Island Hospital with a single lane change.

From The Providence Journal

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  • 5 months later...


Piece by piece, a 1,240-foot bridge takes shape

The most dramatic element is the arch: three curved steel beams that will rise 120 feet above the Providence River.

BY BRUCE LANDIS Journal Staff Writer | January 18, 2005

PLAINVILLE, Conn. -- In an unassuming cluster of industrial buildings, a few dozen skilled craftsmen are slicing slabs of steel into the parts of a giant's Erector set, one big enough to assemble a new bridge to carry Route 195 across the Providence River.

Right now, armed with computer-controlled cutting torches and welders, cranes, and a remarkable number of bolts, craftsmen at the National Eastern Corp. are starting to cut and assemble sections of the new Providence River Bridge's most dramatic element: the arch, three curved beams spanning 400 feet, and rising to 120 feet above the water.

That section of the interstate highway will hang from the arch beams: one over each edge of the roadway, and one above the middle. A network of cables will drop down from each beam to hold up the steel-and-concrete bridge deck, and the traffic on it.

Crossing the river, just south of the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier, the bridge will be the most eye-catching part of a bigger state Department of Transportation project now well under way -- the relocation, southward, of a section of Route 195 and its intersection with Route 95.

The new bridge will be 1,240 feet long, with the arch making up the eastern 400 feet, near the Fox Point shore, where the tugboats dock.

The arch will leave an unobstructed space under the bridge, allowing watercraft, including the Newport ferry, clear access to the gates through the Hurricane Barrier. The rest of the bridge will be built on horizontal steel beams supported by piles going down into the river bottom.

The state Department of Transportation hopes to open the bridge in 2007.

A woodworker building a cabinet might throw a sheet of plywood onto a pair of saw horses, cut out the pieces, and assemble them with glue and screws.

National Eastern does something similar, but it starts with steel plates as big as the steel mills can make them -- up to 110 feet long, 10 feet wide, and more than 2 inches thick.

A cubic foot of steel -- a cube 12 inches on a side -- weighs 495 pounds.

The plates arriving at National Eastern can weigh 50,000 pounds. Their size helps to explain the company's location: on a railroad siding straddled by a traveling crane 65 feet tall that can pick up 90,000 pounds.

The three arch beams look slender in illustrations, but they will be long, curved steel boxes about 4 feet high by 3 feet thick.

Last week, a gracefully curved piece of steel plate, 3 feet wide and about 50 feet long, with its edges beveled, lay in National Eastern's steel receiving bay, a space big enough to play soccer. It will be part of the side of one of the arch beams, the bevels accommodating a weld down each edge.

It was cut out of a rectangular steel plate on a computerized 170-foot-long "table torch," where several cutting torches are mounted on a car that rides above the table, from one end to the other. Jacob Herman, a burning technician, programs the machine and then keeps watch as it rides along over a plate, slicing it into strips at just under 9 inches per minute.

National Eastern's craftsmen had set a 3-foot-wide plate that will become the top of this section of the arch, and another 4-foot-wide section of the arch's side, on edge next to it, with its ends curving up.

In the middle, they had started to "tack-weld," or weld the edges together in scattered spots, to hold the pieces until they could be welded permanently.

Even steel this massive can wiggle if unsupported. One of the remarkable sights inside the plant is a steel plate weighing thousands of pounds, hanging on edge from a crane, rippling along its length.

Bob Battaglino, National Eastern's senior project engineer, said the top of the arch beam will bend enough to follow the curve of the sides. Welded together, the "box" will be much stiffer than its pieces.

Further stiffening will come from rectangular "diaphragm plates" sitting crosswise inside each arch beam, welded to all four sides.

Part of each diaphragm plate's center is cut away, leaving the plates U-shaped. That's to allow inspection from the inside.

The arch span, the 400-foot section with the arch, will by itself contain almost 5 million pounds of steel, Battaglino said.

National Eastern is a collection of buildings sized to fit its products. The largest space, the main girder bay, stretches longer than two football fields. From one end, work at the other fades into the haze.

These huge spaces range from moderately noisy to occasionally thunderous, punctuated by an occasional shower of sparks when a workman grinds a rough edge. But much of the work is surprisingly undramatic, especially considering the size of the steel and what the workers are doing to it.

When President Rudy K. Walz describes his facility, he says it has 260,000 square feet, about six acres, "under crane," referring to the gantry cranes that ride overhead on rails running the length of the most of the buildings. His products are so big and heavy that floor space not "under crane" is less useful.

There are surprisingly few workers. Less than four dozen work at the facility now, officials said, a number that may grow a bit as the Providence bridge job picks up speed.

Automation increases their leverage. National Eastern workers do some handwork, but computer-controlled gas torches and arc-welding machines do most of the cutting and make welds that are more consistent than those done by hand. The devices are called "CNC" machines, for "computer numerically controlled."

One machine, for example, can hold a wide steel plate vertically, and a narrower one horizontally, making a T shape, and then haul the whole business past a stationary pair of welders.

They weld both sides of the seam at once, avoiding unbalanced heat that could warp the steel. The T assembly, in turn, becomes the side of a wide tub beam, like the ones that will hold up the non-arch portion of the Providence bridge.

Where the upper, arch sections will be welded together, the box beams holding up the bridge deck are fussier. The heat from welding could damage the steel, so the lower beams will be bolted together.

That means drilling thousands of holes -- holes every 6 inches along both edges of all four strips of plate making up the top, bottom and sides of the beam. Pieces of angle iron, shaped like the letter L but with sides of equal width, will run the length of the beams, holding each corner together. That means eight bolts every six inches.

How many bolts? National Eastern had to count, if only to bid for the job, and Battaglino looked it up: 65,000 bolts for the arch section of the bridge alone.

The bolts are mostly an inch in diameter -- and several inches long, to reach through the thick steel plates. They have to be tightened the right amount, measured in foot-pounds, like the bolts holding a car engine head block to the cylinder block.

National Eastern will put the parts together into sections from about 50 feet to about 100 feet long, to fit on trucks, officials said, and then temporarily bolt each pair of those pieces together, to make sure everything fits.

Even that takes care, Walz said.

Some of the assembly is done outside, sometimes with the end of a long section sticking out from under the roof into the sun. On a hot day, the steel may expand, making the beam inches longer, something that has to be accounted for, in making sure it's the right length.

James R. Caroselli, the Rhode Island DOT's chief civil engineer, said the steel parts National Eastern is making will be trucked to Quonset Point, North Kingstown, in early 2006, and assembled into the bridge, probably on a pair of barges linked together.

Then, with the bridge on top, the barges will be towed up Narragansett Bay to Providence for the installation.

It should be quite a show. "You'll look out your window and see a bridge floating past your house," Caroselli said.

From The Providence Journal

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When I read they were hoping to have the bridge opened in '07, I was surprised. I thought they were targeting '09, and having the old highway completely erased by '12. But if the bridge is opening in '07, I can't imagine it would take 5 years to get rid of the old highway.

Though considering the speed at which work seems to be proceeding, '07 seems reasonable. Though I wonder if perhaps the bridge will be structurally complete in '07 and there may be some more time before 195 can be rerouted over it. There'll be a lot of work involved in building the new 95/195 interchange.

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Actually, upon further reflection, I think I remember part of the plan is to open the new route in one direction, while work continues on building the connections with Route 95 in the other direction, so we could see the bridge open one way in '07 or '08, and still have one way traffic on the old highway for a couple years. That would put it at '09 for the new 195 fully open, then a couple years for tear down. I think the '12 date is the completion of the relocation, the removal of the old highway, and the reconfiguration of the surface streets under it. I can see all that taking 3 years from '09.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well it has some of the same challenges as the Big Dig. Working in an urban environment, keeping 195 and 95 open while the work proceeds. They need to build everything and tie it all together without interupting traffic. The road should be open by 2009. The tear down will continue through 2012. A big challenge of tear down will probably be taking down the old Providence River Bridge and barging it's remains out through the hurricane barrier, it's a tight squeeze.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, only the true die-hard Providence and Urbanplanet junkies will get excited by this one, but here is a view of the Providence Bridge construction progress thus far from high up in Rhode Island Hospital this past weekend.

It's going well!


- Garris

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It'd be awesome if you could get some progress pics from that location once the bridge's structure starts going up.


No problem. I only wonder if I'll be here that long! My position ends in the Summer of '07. I guess the bridge will be mostly done by then...

- Garris

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  • 2 weeks later...


Journal photo / Andrew Dickerman

Paulo J. Palrao works in mid-December on a stone wall that will be part of the riverwalk and park that willl line the west bank of the Providence River, stretching south about a third of a mile from the Crawford Street Bridge. The project is one of many related to the relocation of Route 195.

From ProJo







Riverwalk marching toward finish line

The $5.3-million project, originally slated to be finished by the end of last year, had been slowed by the discovery of PCBs in the soil.

BY KAREN A. DAVIS Journal Staff Writer | March 22, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- Contractors for the state Department of Transportation are inching toward completion of a project creating a riverwalk and park along the west bank of the Providence River, begining at the Crawford Street Bridge.

Begun in fall of 2003, the $5.3-million project originally was slated to be completed by December 2004. The project ran into delays when contractors found that PCBs, from power generators at the former Narragansett Electric Co. facility, had seeped into the soil and would have to be cleaned up, according to Jim Caroselli, DOT's chief civil engineer for construction operations.

The riverwalk is part of a beautification initiative launched by DOT in conjunction with its massive realignment of Route 195.

Caroselli has said the goal of the project is to make the river area more attractive and accessible, after a section of Route 195 through the city is realigned and the Providence River Bridge is moved south of the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. The change will open up a waterfront area that has long been overshadowed by highway off-ramps and overpasses.

Continue reading at: ProJo.

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Excellent! Uncovering the river was the best idea city planners could have had.

As an aside, check out this building that used to be on the waterfront (from 1958):


In your third photo down, you can see the building that now stands in its place. The building in the old photo that says "Roitman and Sons" at the top is still there, to the right.

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I read in the Journal today that there are plans to include the new section of the riverwalk in future Waterfires. I wonder if the intention is to extend the fires closer to the hurricane barrier. I also wanted to bring up something I always wondered. Why does the riverwalk end at Waterplace park? Wouldn't it make sense to start building from the other side of the mall out to the west (say at least to Eagle Square area eventually)? You can't tell me that places like the Jefferson and the Foundry wouldn't be much more enticing if the riverwalk went by them as well. The current state of river seems like a sort of developmental limbo, there are spots where you can walk over it and hang out but nothing alongside it. The rivers aren't really appreciated/used by anyone else but pedestrians, it's nice to see that there is work being done but there needs to be work done where people live, not just where people visit. Is that an unreasonable desire?

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It is sort of developed through the Promenade and along Kinsley Street to Eagle Square. But it's really half-assed and not maintained. I wouldn't put anymore money into it beyond Dean Street until that area is developed more, there's really not many people in the area to use that section of river as an amenity. But the section between the mall and Dean St. should be fixed up. However I'd like to see the Foundry and Jefferson Place developers take charge of it. It benefits their residents the most, they should pay for it.

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I agree, and to add to it... in front of Jefferson place and in between the mall the water is so shallow. I would also think that because of the location Water Place Park is in, it directly benefits the local establishments. The only benefit with pushing it out towards Jefferson is maybe the mall... I haven

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