Roads and infrastructure in the Ocean State are frequent topics of conversation, although typically not in the way anyone would hope.
We hear it all the time, whether at home, at the office, out with friends or during news reports and pitches from political candidates. Our roads are in rough shape. Our bridges are in disrepair. Other key facets of our infrastructure are outdated and in need of major investment.
Within that context, the recent announcement of an innovative bridge project set to kick off next week stands out.
Starting Aug. 18, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation will replace the Barton Corner Bridge, which carries I-95 over Route 2 on the Warwick-West Warwick line, as part of an accelerated bridge replacement project.
The new bridge is currently being built in two halves near the site, and the sections will be moved into place by the same self-propelled modular transporters used in the loading of the Iway Bridge onto barges at the Quonset Business Park in 2006. The project is set to be complete by Labor Day.
While a portion of Route 2 will be temporarily closed at several points during the work, perhaps the most notable aspect of the Barton Corner Bridge project is that travel along I-95 will be maintained throughout the 11-day span. Given that tens of thousands of vehicles cross the bridge each day, ensuring access will continue – and that impediments to travel will be contained to a short timeframe – is a welcome development for Rhode Island commuters and businesses.
Aside from limiting traffic delays and detours, accelerated bridge projects, made possible through new technological advancements, offer a broad range of benefits. The environmental impacts are far less than those seen in typical construction, and the economic effects common to major roadwork are significantly mitigated.
Accelerated bridge projects are becoming commonplace in many parts of the country, and their spread hopefully bodes well for further advancement in road construction. In a state like ours, where infrastructure problems are widespread but resources are very limited, any new innovation can make a major difference.