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By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – The first new span of the Interstate-95 Pawtucket River Bridge will open to northbound traffic Friday, ending the 18-ton weight limit that has been detouring northbound trucks through local streets, the R.I. Department of Transportation said Thursday.
With the new span open, workers will start to demolish the old northbound bridge and build the permanent replacement, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Shifting traffic to the new span will require lane closures Thursday starting at 9 p.m. and at midnight all of I-95 North will be closed as crews re-stripe the highway. The highway is expected to be fully open on the new span by 5 a.m. Friday along with Exit 28 (School Street), which has been temporarily closed.
“This is a big milestone, a day we have been working hard toward ever since construction began on the new Pawtucket River Bridge,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis in a news release.
“All northbound trucks will be able to remain on I-95 and the northbound detour through Pawtucket will no longer be necessary,” he added.
When the new permanent northbound span is finished later this year, southbound traffic will be temporarily moved to it, ending the current 18-ton weight limit for southbound traffic.
In 2013, the old southbound span will be demolished and a permanent replacement built to allow traffic in both directions to be moved to permanent routes.