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By Chris Barrett
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – A Rhode Island School of Design student saved the R.I. Department of Transportation $2 million by suggesting it reuse the piers from the old Interstate 195 bridge for the new pedestrian bridge taking its place.
R.I. Department of Transportation spokesman Charles St. Martin said saving the granite piers will save the department in demolition costs and expenses associated with constructing a new foundation.
“It’s a way of not spending that money,” he said.
The bridge over the Providence River will ultimately connect two waterfront parks. The new bridge will also provide a link between the Financial District and the Fox Point neighborhood without the need to walk north toward South Water Street or use the Point Street Bridge to the south. Construction is expected to start in late 2011 or early 2012.
“That’s a really important link for pedestrians and it’s something that we’re really excited to do,” St. Martin said.
St. Martin said the DOT ultimately also hopes to design a traffic pattern that will allow bikers coming off the East Bay Bike Path at India Point Park to cross the India Point Park Bridge spanning I-195, travel city streets to the new bridge and cross it into the city.
The new bridge is the last of two pedestrian bridges associated with the Iway project, the other being the bridge at India Point. St. Martin said while bridgework on the project remains in the form of new ramps, the pedestrian bridge is the last nonramp related bridge of the project. DOT’s rough estimates show it could cost about $2 million, Martin said. The bridge is being designed by Exeter-based William D. Warner Architect Architects and Planners, which also led the design of the arch bridge carrying I-195 over the Providence River.