PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Heads up if you regularly drive through Providence using I-95 North.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will soon start shifting traffic onto the newly-constructed Providence Viaduct.
The high-speed lane will be the first to shift onto the new bridge beginning Sept. 16, according to RIDOT. The shift will be implemented using a lane split just after Exit 22.
“Drivers should not slow down or suddenly change lanes at the split, as this unsafe behavior will cause traffic delays and could lead to a crash,” RIDOT said in a statement. “Both sides of the split continue onto I-95.”
The remaining lanes will migrate onto the new bridge two weeks after the first shift.
In early October, RIDOT will link the Atwells Avenue to the new bridge via a temporary on-ramp.
The timing of the lane shifts is strategic, according to RIDOT, since it will remove traffic from the old bridge prior to the winter plowing season.
“This will avoid the frequent maintenance associated with the old bridge during winter storms and Rhode Island’s freeze-thaw cycles during the winter months which often led to potholes,” RIDOT explained.
Once all the traffic has been diverted off of the old bridge, RIDOT will demolish it and build a new roadway and ramps to separate merging traffic from I-95 through traffic.
“These improvements will maximize traffic efficiency and reduce vehicle emissions, utilizing the same footprint as the original highway bridges,” RIDOT said. “They will begin coming online for drivers in early 2024.”
The entire project is expected to be completed by fall 2025.
The Providence Viaduct Northbound Project, which costs roughly $265 million, began back in August 2020. RIDOT said the bridge is the third-most traveled part of the I-95 corridor in the Northeast and has been the subject of a lot of wear and tear over the years.