Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation this afternoon announced that the new Sakonnet River Bridge is scheduled to open to Route 24 southbound traffic on Friday, Sept. 28. This opening will remove the 18-ton weight limit for all vehicles.
“With thanks for the patience and perseverance of the two host communities of Tiverton and Portsmouth, and the dedicated efforts of RIDOT, we welcome the full opening of the new Sakonnet River Bridge,” said Governor Chafee.
RIDOT broke ground on the new Sakonnet River Bridge in April 2009. Through a $163.7 million contract with Cardi Corporation, RIDOT is providing an improved structure that is 2,265 feet long and approximately 96 feet wide. There are two 12-foot lanes in each direction with wide shoulders.
“In opening the remainder of the Sakonnet River Bridge, the Department has reached its goal of eliminating the weight limit for this vital link to Aquidneck Island,” Lewis said. “We look forward to finalizing this project next year and moving ahead with the removal of the old bridge.”
Once all traffic is shifted to the new bridge, work will continue on the approach roads on both sides of the span. As part of this work, the department must temporarily close the ramp from Route 138 (Main Road) to Route 24 south for approximately two months until temporary ramp construction is complete.
RIDOT expects construction activities on the segments of Route 24, approaching the bridge to continue through Spring 2013.
All construction on the new bridge should wrap up in 2013, including the opening of a shared-use path for bicycles and pedestrians along the northern edge of the new bridge and the connections to the local streets in Tiverton and Portsmouth. Also in 2013, RIDOT anticipates advertising a construction project for the demolition of the old Sakonnet River Bridge.
At that time, the state Turpike and Bridge Authority — which now controls the Sakonnet, Mount Hope, Newport Pell and Jamestown bridges — is expected to implement a toll to defray the costs of maintaining the four spans. The Sakonnet and Mount Hope bridges have been considered for a toll, despite strong resident objection.