PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Transportation is starting the construction of a new linear park and bikeway over the Washington Bridge between Providence and East Providence.
Due to the construction, the portion of the East Bay Bike Path that crosses over the Washington Bridge will be closed for approximately two years starting Monday, July 9.
No formal bike path detour will be established during the closure, but the DOT recommended that experienced cyclists who commute to work by bike use the Henderson Bridge to cross the Seekonk River.
“Given the popularity of the East Bay Bike Path, we know this closure will inconvenience some cyclists, especially those who bike to work,” DOT Director Michael P. Lewis said in a statement. “When construction is done, however, cyclists will have a vastly different experience riding into Providence.”
“We eagerly await the reopening of this bridge as not only a first-class bikeway, but as a new park and destination for the city,” added Lewis.
Similar to the 2008 reconstruction of the India Point Park Pedestrian Bridge, this project will replace what the DOT calls a “sub-standard bridge.” On the existing Washington Bridge bikeway, the crossing is so narrow that when cyclists approach each other from opposite directions, one must stop to let the other pass safely, according to the DOT.
Through a $22 million contract, the DOT will rebuild the remaining section of the original Washington Bridge that carries the existing bikeway and a section of the original highway bridge.
The completed bikeway, which will be in the same place, will feature a separate bikeway and walking path, scenic overlooks, park benches, flag poles, decorative lighting and landscaped planters.
The project also calls for restoration of the Washington Bridge’s historic multi-arch granite facade and the two operator’s houses from which an original drawbridge was controlled.
Once complete, the new scenic bikeway will be named the George Redman Linear Park, after the East Providence resident who helped make the East Bay Bike Path a reality 25 years ago.
As part of the project, the DOT will also reconstruct the Warren Avenue Ramp Bridge, which carries off-ramp traffic from I-195 East to the Veterans Memorial Parkway. This ramp is scheduled to close in the Fall and reopen in late Summer 2013.