We’re from RIDOT. We’re here to replace a bridge.
There isn’t anything that will strike more fear in the heart of a Barrington resident than those words, said Michael Lewis, director of the RI Department of Transportation on Wednesday evening, Oct. 30.
Lewis opened a community briefing in the Barrington library auditorium on the newest bridge-replacement project in town with those words. RIDOT started replacing the 73-year-old Central Bridge or “White Church” bridge over the Barrington River about a month ago.
“We have a lot to make up for in this community,” Lewis said, reminding a sparse crowd of the 12 years it took to replace the Andreozzi Bridge on County Road over the Barrington River. “We all have a lot to overcome from that experience here.”
Lewis said: “I have made a commitment that I want to wipe out all the past history of that other bridge. When we are done, we will celebrate and forget about everything in the past.”
Lewis brought with him to the community meeting several of the highest ranking officials in RIDOT and the team that will be overseeing the project, including Mike Swift of Barrington, the project manager.
Swift provided a timeline for the project.
“The new bridge will be fully open to traffic by October of 2016,” Swift said. “It will be substantially complete by May of 2017.”
The bridge will be built in several phases, he said, so that it will never have to be closed to traffic. Demolition and closure of the westbound lane is expected to be done by December.
The phase between December and July of 2015 will produce the most noise and vibration as piles are driven and sheeting is laid, Swift said. That will also mean some intermittent lane closures.
The next two phases between August of 2015 and October of 2016 will mimic the first two phases. The final phase between November of 2016 and May of 2017 will involve landscaping and environmental, storm water and wetland mitigation.
“It’s about firm construction management,” Lewis said in pledging to get the project done on time and under budget. “There could always be problems. But to the best of our ability, we have eliminated all the problems we had with the other bridge.”
That includes using a different contractor. The Cardi Corporation has the contract for this project.
RIDOT also pledges to provide weekly updates to the community on project progress on its website.