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Pinpoint Traffic Blog: Bridge Work Could Slow You Down

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Work on the Newport Bridge Could Slow Your Commute

During the winter months in New England a lot of construction projects go into hibernation, understandably it can be brutally cold. But maintenance work on the Newport Pell Bridge doesn’t ever end.

Joseph Levesque, Chief Engineer or the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority says, “It’s a metal bridge and it’s almost 50 years old, it needs constant maintenance.” Levesque tells me that they have gotten into the routine of moving the barriers on the bridge every two weeks and sweeping underneath them.

“We make sure the drainage is clear, it can prevent ponding on the bridge.”

Ponding is pooling of water on the roadway and it can cause potentially dangerous driving conditions. If it is cold that water of course will freeze and create slippery driving conditions. When the barrier placement project is underway it typically starts at 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

After a couple Eyewitness News viewers inquired about the delays I called to get to the bottom of it.

Levesque says most of the lane closures due to construction starts at 9 a.m. He tells me in some cases it is necessary to start even earlier around 7 a.m. affecting rush hour traffic.

This is only done if completely necessary, Levesque said.

“If we need extra time, we may take the left lane heading west because there’s less traffic heading out of the city at this time than into Newport.”

He says bridge bearings, which are components between the bridge deck and piers that allow movement and reduce stress on the bridge, are being replaced. The replacement process requires workers to get underneath the bridge.

“We have to jack up the bridge and remove the old one and replace it.”

What else is being done on the bridge this winter?

Once the “weather breaks” crews will continue to do painting and touch up work on the bridge.

“We are still doing some work under the bridge. It should be wrapped up by the end of the month (February) or earlier March.

The 2018 outlook for bridge construction looks promising – with no major delays related to bridge work planned.

The RITBA is planning to do a cable inspection this summer.

“The cables that give the bridge its iconic look – we will inspect them take samples and send them to a lab for testing,” Levesque said.

He continued, “Probably some lane closures, but nothing like last summer.”

      Melissa Sardelli ( is the Pinpoint Traffic Reporter for WPRI 12 and FOX Providence. If you have a traffic concern or question reach out to me on Twitter @MelissaSardelli or find me on Facebook. 

  • Summer 2014: Construction begins with focus on the new Veterans Memorial Drive Extension
  • Fall 2014 – Summer 2016: Construction of roundabout at Post Road at Williams Corner in three phases
  • Winter 2015 – Summer 2015: Relocation of a section of the Apponaug River
  • Spring 2015 – Fall 2016: Construction of roundabout at Centerville Road and Toll Gate Road in six phases
  • Summer 2015: Summer 2016: Construction of roundabout at Veterans Memorial Drive and Post Road Extension in four phases
  • Fall 2015- Fall 2016: Construction of roundabout at Greenwich Avenue and Veterans Memorial Drive in five phases
  • Fall 2016 – Spring 2017: Construction of roundabout at Apponaug Four Corners in four phases
  • Spring 2017 – Summer 2017: Reconstruction of Post Road in Apponaug village center, Veterans Memorial Drive to Williams Corner
  • Fall 2017 Substantial completion of the entire project

Click here for Real-Time Interactive Traffic Map, Drive Times & Live Traffic Cams »

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